Vivienne Westwood seems like a natural candidate for theatre and opera design. Her clothes are ornate and dramatic, with touches straight out of the 18th century. She is one of fashion’s greatest, most fearless nonconformists. She’s built an empire with her subversive, statement-making approach to clothing. Her work has been iconized in the Victoria and Albert Museum numerous times in London, and to the untrained eye, her provocative creations, with their swags of fabric and specific historical references, might be interpreted as costume. Earlier this week, Westwood dressed mezzo opera singer Joyce DiDonato for her performance in Alcina, at Carnegie Hall.
The designer explained 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."