Vivienne Westwood seems like a natural candidate for opera design: Her clothes are ornate and dramatic, with touches straight out of the 18th century. In fact, last year, Westwood costumed a production of Handel’s Semele in Sydney. And earlier this week, Westwood dressed mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato for her performance in Alcina, another Handel opera, at Carnegie Hall. Now the designer is sharing her sketches exclusively with us.
The designer told the Cut, “Alcina is a witch who turns people into animals on her island. The dress helps to tell her story of the loss of her power over her lover.” For the design, adapted from a gown she showed at couture, Westwood opted for tones of “dirty sea green and anthracite with a fish-scale motif outlined in silver.” The dress comes in three layers, all of which become more and more undone over the course of the production’s three acts. Westwood was also a fan of DiDonato’s piled-high hairdo, which she described as a “triumph.”