Flights of fan­tasy

Talk­ing wings, party dresses and La Travi­ata with cos­tume de­signer Cait O’Con­nor.

ELLE (Canada) - - Radar -

There are many rea­sons to go to the Cana­dian Opera Com­pany’s new pro­duc­tion of La Travi­ata (an event where peo­ple­watch­ing with glo­ri­fied binoc­u­lars is con­doned? #yesplease). First, it’s a tragic tale (the ti­tle trans­lates to “The Fallen Woman”) about a cour­te­san with a fa­tal dis­ease told through Verdi’s won­der­ful melodies. Sec­ond, it fea­tures cos­tumes by Cait O’Con­nor, a rock star of the stage style world whose pre­vi­ous cred­its in­clude Cirque du Soleil. We chat­ted with the 34-year-old New

York City na­tive about what went into cre­at­ing a show that’s all about “ex­ag­ger­ated deca­dence.” What is the over­all vibe of the pro­duc­tion’s cos­tumes? “The hero­ine, Vi­o­letta, lives in a world of ex­treme fan­tasy. The opera opens on a mad mock court, where ladies are pulling to­gether a

vi­sion of Ver­sailles. This cel­e­bra­tion is pow­dered over and play­ful. It’s sug­ary ’til your teeth ache. The sec­ond gala in­vites the un­der­side of the il­lu­sion: These clothes are dark and dan­ger­ous; fan­tasy has turned to hal­lu­ci­na­tion. All of the colours are pulled from the iri­des­cent spec­trum found in crow’s feath­ers and the acidic rain­bow of an oil slick.” What are some of your favourite de­tails on the cos­tumes? “Vi­o­letta’s first look is ethe­real and light, evok­ing the ce­les­tial im­agery of stars and nightin­gales. I love the lus­tre of the silks we used, painted to sug­gest the dark un­der­cur­rent of the world Vi­o­letta is trapped in. Vi­o­letta’s Act

III gown is an en­tirely dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tion of se­duc­tion. For the 12 lay­ers—each one a dif­fer­ent fab­ric—we used rich vel­vets and yards of jew­elled trim to cre­ate an el­e­gant

yet-dan­ger­ous look.” Is there a “wear­able” look from the show? “I think it’s all wear­able! What I love about the cos­tumes in La Travi­ata is they cel­e­brate fan­tasy, de­sire and fragility. But I think the per­fect pair of golden wings is the ul­ti­mate ac­ces­sory.” La Travi­ata opens in Toronto on Oc­to­ber 8

and runs un­til No­vem­ber 6 (

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