Opera Chic: The Five Best-dressed Opera Singers
Maria Callas aside, Opera Chic has long wept over the poor fashion choices of her favorite opera singers. On stage (and especially off) many if not most of the great stars of the past were quite often downright dowdy. From gawky Joan Sutherland to massive Montserrat Caballe and the late Luciano Pavarotti, we saw way too many singers who simply didn’t care, and probably considered themselves to be somewhat above things such as fashion. But looking good on stage is not simply about looks –it’s about being believable on stage, whether its as a dashing womanizing nobleman or the hottest woman in Paris. Opera Chic has lately been delighted to applaud a handful of singers who just say no when it comes to ill-fitting off-the-rack eveningwear. Here, the Five Best-Dressed Opera Singers, according to Opera Chic.
Polished and sophisticated (with a seriously killer body at age 51 that the tightest costumes hug in all the right places —how could we forget the skintight Christian Lacroix gold dress she wore in Massenet’s Thaïs at the Metropolitan Opera in 2008?), the elegant American soprano is always lavishly styled, coiffed, and discreetly bejeweled. For concert and gala performances, Renée has been dressed by Bill Blass, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Christian Lacroix, Karl Lagerfeld, Issey Miyake, Oscar de la Renta and Vivienne Westwood. For less formal occasions, under-the-radar American couturier Maggie Norris is her go-to designer. At the Metropolitan Opera’s season opening gala in September 2009, Renee showed up in a stunning white princess-cut gown by Angel Sanchez (also a favorite designer of Eloisa Dudamel, wife of Gustavo). Renée is The Highlander of Opera: In the end there can be only one. Get used to it.
Juan Diego Flórez
Thirty seven-year-old Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez is such a man of style that L’Uomo Vogue featured him in an eye-popping photoshoot, a rare honor for opera singers. JDF, as he’s known to his fans, is currently in New York at The Metropolitan Opera where he’s singing one of his signature roles, Tonio in La fille du régiment (the role that includes the famous nine high C¹s that the late Luciano Pavarotti, Flórez¹s mentor, made famous in his time). Flórez is a “music ambassador” for Ermenegildo Zegna and on stage, he’s known to wear a near-total look by the Italian fashion house. “Always Zegna,” JDF tells Opera Chic. “I wear a frac almost always, and sometimes a “concert” [with a jacket that looks Korean-style] in black, of course.” As JDF and his stylish wife, Julia Trappe, keep a home near Bergamo, not far from Milan, they do some of their best shopping in the city.
The English tenor made headlines in Milan’s newspapers a couple years ago when he gave a recital at La Scala. The Milan critics weren’t only raving about his excellently-executed Schubert-on-Schubert program. They approved of his twist on the standard recital uniform: white tie literally without the white tie, Bostridge’s dress shirt opened a few inches under his tux. He described it to us as “Hollywood black tie—very George Clooney.” The tall, lean tenor could definitely give Hollywood’s leading men good competition. On stage he wears either a Kenzo suit (in a wool and mohair mix, which shows richer color under the often harsh stage lights) or a handmade blue suit by longtime favorite Paul Smith. Off stage, you may catch him in his cashmere sweaters and corduroy suits, quite befitting the former Oxford and Cambridge scholar.
The fiercely sexy (but sweet as honey) American mezzo soprano with superb vocal skills leads the new school of opera acting, no longer affecting the “park & bark” opera acting methods of the past. And she has a youthful, sophisticated personal style to match. The 36-year-old (who’ll be sizzling onstage in Carmen at The Metropolitan Opera this Spring) has fabulous cache of performance gowns by Max Azria, New York designer Seduis, Nicole Miller and Lisbon-based designer Alves Goncalves. She tells Opera Chic that she looks for gowns with “a lot of texture and in really rich and warm colors.” She gets her Adriano Goldschmied jeans in New York; her stilettos in Rome; and most recently, she says, she splurged on a beautiful black satin dress from Dolce & Gabbana.
Opera fans swoon over his cleanly brilliant voice (he’s currently in Zurich channeling Offenbach’s anti-hero lead in Les contes d’Hoffmann) and the opera crossover fans adore his romantic looks (tall, dark, and handsome) and dreamy “popera” ballads (like the songs found on his 2006 self-titled solo CD). Onstage, the Arezzo-born tenor loves to dress up: As he tells Opera Chic, give him “high boots, vests, and jacket with big collars/sleeves,” and he’s psyched. In recital the singer prefers a streamlined, elegant look: he wears Gucci white tie, which has been handmade and tailored to fit his sizzling body. He knows the value of good shoes, which are provided onstage and off by Berlutti. He’s also known to rock John Varvatos and Gianfranco Ferre. Offstage, the singer, who’s based in Los Angeles, says comfort rules his world: Abercrombie & Fitch, Nike and Adidas. Opera Chic demurs at his self-professed predilection for Uggs, but trusts that he’s got enough style to pull them off.
Look for regular dispatches from our favorite (and anonymous) opera blogger, the Milan-based Opera Chic, every Wednesday. See her previous W posts HERE.
Follow W magazine on Twitter and stay in the know!