From Punk to Purcell: Vivienne Westwood Outfits Monteverdi Choir

Tuesday, August 02, 2016 - 10:49 AM

Members of the Monteverdi Choir, clad in their new jackets, pose with the designers Andreas Kronthaler and Vivienne Westwood. Members of the Monteverdi Choir, clad in their new jackets, pose with the designers Andreas Kronthaler and Vivienne Westwood. (Courtesy of Vivienne Westwood)

Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, who dressed the Sex Pistols and forged a punk style, has recently funneled her attention in a different direction: Baroque vocal music.

Late last week, the Monteverdi Choir, a period ensemble founded by Sir John Eliot Gardner in the 1960s, unveiled a new jacket that Westwood designed for its female singers along with her husband and design partner Andreas Kronthaler. Made of a gray silk-cotton blend, it wraps around in a striking asymmetrical form, though it's a bit tamer than the S&M inspired garments that made her name in the 1970s.

Awarded an OBE in 1992 (she infamously went to the ceremony overseen by Queen Elizabeth II without her knickers), Westwood has become a frequent collaborator with singers and ballet companies over the past decade.

“I went to a church school so we did a lot of singing when we were little — and I loved it,” Westwood professed in a release.

Westwood has become the designer of choice for mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, for whom she created a red ball gown for the Drama Queen tour. An Arte documentary about the singer shows the two in discussion (at 8:30).

More recently, DiDonato dressed in a green number that nearly upstaged the vocalist during a concert version of Handel’s Alcina at Carnegie Hall.

At the 2013 Sydney Festival in Australia, Westwood inspired a production of Handel’s Semele, which took place on a catwalk with the performers and models wearing designs from her 2011 collection.

And balletomanes may recognize her aesthetic from recent dance collaborations. The English National Ballet reached out to her for a rebranding initiative in 2013.

And she dressed the Vienna Ballet all in plaid for its 2014 New Year’s concert with the city's philharmonic.


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Comments [3]

Janet from NJ

Not one performer looks good-or comfortable-in those jackets. Too much fabric around the neckline, too much clinching at the waist. Good Lord, how are they to take a deep breath? I can't believe these women are actually pleased with their appearances. Did they have any input at all? Did that designer even ask the women what would work best for them?

Aug. 03 2016 06:24 PM
Carol Luparella from Garfield, NJ

I agree. The jackets look like they don't fit well at all. I would feel embarrassed to have to wear something like that!

Aug. 03 2016 03:59 PM
David Wynne from New York

While I feel that her work has merit, THESE costumes are laughable and accentuate how overweight the performers are. All that yardage is distracting and tacky. She missed the boat on this one. As a performer, I wouldn't come near such a messy look.

Aug. 03 2016 08:51 AM

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