More than 1500 costumes will find new homes at the two-day sale in late September. From the high kitsch (sequinned nun’s habits, Gaultier-esque cone-bra corsets, beaded belly-dancing costumes) to the utterly gorgeous (ballet dresses that invoke water nymphs, Dior New Look-inspired costumes from Boulevard Solitude), there’s a rich archive waiting to be fathomed.
What seems most remarkable about the intricate costumes is their hardiness. The designs come from 14 operas and one ballet that won’t be performed again. Regardless of the source production, all of the garments were designed to endure the exertions of nightly performances, without restricting opera stars’ gestures or singing.
‘This is such a varied, special collection of costumes,’ Mal Barton, the ROH’s Costume Workroom Manager, said. ‘They are all couture garments not only designed but made for the particular performer.’
Plus, they’re downright dazzling. One red satin gown from Masquerade wouldn’t look out of place at the Met Ball. For true divas only, of course...
The ROH Costume Sale takes place from 24-25 Sept. at the new Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop in Purfleet, Essex. Prices range from £20-500.