Last Saturday morning, while most New Yorkers were pulling up the covers to fend off 2012’s first blast of snow, the singer Antony Hegarty was standing in the atelier of Ohne Titel, easing his Gentle Giant frame into a gossamer silk georgette gown. Ohne Titel is the label of designers Alexa Adams and Flora Gill, who created the costume Antony will wear Thursday night in his first-ever concert at Radio City Music Hall.
Radio City Music Hall! Home of the Rockettes! Antony couldn’t quite believe it. “I started out in the East Village at the Pyramid Club, “ he told Adams as she helped him into the long columnar tunic whose tapered thirties silhouette and billowy sleeves curiously put one in mind of Wallis Simpson. Given that the transgender singer stood 6’2 in his stocking feet and that his dyed black hair fell like a macramed curtain across his face, the effect was striking. “Radio City has always been a dream of mine,” he said. “I’m thinking of calling up all my drag queen friends from the old days and having us do a fan kick.” Antony, who sometimes makes his own clothes, cast an unsparing eye on the gown and the long knit sleeves of the undergarment, examining their seams, neckline, and the way the whole thing moved. He raised his arms on high and starting singing, giving the ensemble a test drive. “That’s the song of the dress,” he joked. “It’s very Isis.”
Dressing an artist for the stage is always a tricky business because both artist’s and designer’s style have to align. The last designer to make a costume for Antony was Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, who, for Antony’s 2009 summer tour, used as inspiration the death of Antony’s cat in creating an operatic jacket studded with skeletal plumes and layered to form the impression of a cat’s head curling around his shoulder.
“The costume was meant to work in relation to the set, which is inspired by crystal formations,” explained Antony, whose exhibition of sketches and collages just opened at UCLA’s Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. “This dress is super subtle. It’s the opposite of a showstopper. It’s really built to help to immerse me in the environment.”
Photos: Darren Hall/ darrenhallphoto.com