Fashion makes progress with link to opera

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The Independent Online
THEY rolled around the stage like demonic sex dolls, dressed in their glam-trash S & M outfits designed to thrill.

This was fashion as theatre, or rather opera, as the two fused on stage for the first full dress rehearsal of The Rake's Progress.

For this latest, typically avant-garde Opera Factory production, four young fashion designers, Dexter Wong, Vivi, Vicky Martin and Fleur Oakes from Hyper Hyper in London have contributed to the quirky costumes.

Stravinsky's opera, based on a series of paintings by William Hogarth, has been updated from its original 18th century setting to contemporary London. Hence the S & M-style brothel scene where the chorus performs in red velvet conical bodice tops, PVC hot pants and silver lurex mini skirts. This is the first time Opera Factory has worked directly with fashion designers although they were careful to choose relatively unknowns, whose fame would not eclipse the production. 'Using famous fashion designers is really a cunning marketing ploy,' said David Roger, the production's designer. 'There's a raging debate about this at the moment, it can fill seats but a performance can get too saturated with the glitz and glamour.'

Such high-profile collaborations between performing arts and fashion have been steadily growing.

Since the Eighties, Gianni Versace has worked closely with the Milan Opera and in 1990 he lavishly costumed Strauss's Capriccio. His fellow Italian, Valentino, has just provided costumes for the Washington Opera.

In Britain, Jasper Conran and Katharine Hamnett have worked with the Royal Ballet and the Ballet Rambert respectively.

The Rake's Progress opens on Friday 22 April at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.

(Photograph omitted)