Iris van Herpen designs costumes for Opera Ballet Vlaanderen

Dutch couturier Iris van Herpen has designed the costumes of Opera Ballet Vlaanderen’s Pelléas et Mélisande show. The performance premiered on Friday in Antwerp.

Costumes designed by Van Herpen - Photo: Annemie Augustijns

For the opera, Van Herpen created costumes that feature traditional materials such as silk fabrics, wool and leather as well as s special 'stripe material': a material produced through laser-cut technology. The dancers are wearing silver web suits that resemble glittering armor.

Van Herpen commented that she was inspired by several factors for this project. “On the one hand, of course, by listening to the music and reading the libretto, and on the other hand by the many conversations with Damien [Jalet], Larbi [Cherkaoui] and Marina [Abramovic], so that I could understand how they saw the piece, their view on the show. I quickly understood that the dancers in the piece embody a kind of unspoken energy, they constantly transform.  With that information I could quickly resume my designs,” Van Herpen said.

The costumes characterize Van Herpen’s signature work, which combines new forms and methods of expression with traditional and radical materials to create a unique artistic vision. In October 2017 the Dutch couturier was acknowledged for this technique, as she received the prestigious Johannes Vermeer Award, a 100,000 euro prize, awarded by the Dutch government, encouraging artistic talent in various disciplines.

Additional creative team members of the Pelléas et Mélisande opera include conductor Alejo Pérez; Damien Jalet and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, direction and choreography; and Marina Abramovic, stage design and concept. The show will run in Antwerp, Ghent and Luxembourg.

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