Discoveries Behind the Scenes
In June 2023, I, Saskia, participated in a joint exhibition of 30 artists at Atelier Néerlandais, the cultural branch of the Dutch embassy in Paris. I decided to invite an acquaintance of an acquaintance, Jane Govodin, who works at the costume atelier of Opera Garnier. It was particularly nice to finally meet her live in Paris, after we had spoken to each other several times via Whatsapp. But I did not suspect that this meeting would take me the next day into the world behind the scenes of the opera’s costume atelier … a dream come true!
Couture and Costumes in the world of Opera and Theatre
In the heart of Paris stands the majestic Opera Garnier. An iconic symbol of splendor steeped in the history of the opera world. It is a place where the magic of music, drama and couture come together to create an unforgettable experience for audiences.
Opera Garnier, built in the 19th century, is a masterpiece of architecture and a hotspot of creativity. It opened its doors in 1875 and has enchanted generations of artists, performers and visitors ever since. From its magnificent ceiling paintings to its opulent interiors, every corner of Opera Garnier exudes a rich history and an unmistakable elegance.
World of Creative Imagination
Behind the scenes at Opera Garnier is a hidden treasure: the costume workshop. This is where the visions of designers come to life and are transformed into beautiful staging on stage. During my visit to the atelier, I was immersed in a world of colorful fabrics, delicate embroidery and world-class craftsmanship. Each creation, each costume, tells a story and contributes to the overall atmosphere of the performance.
Couture vs. Theatre Costumes: a Comparison
While couture and theater costumes both require craftsmanship and creativity, there are some crucial differences between the two. Couture often focuses on creating unique, custom-made pieces for individual clients, emphasizing luxurious materials and refined craftsmanship. On the other hand, theater costumes are designed with functionality and durability in mind, taking into account the needs of the performers and the demands of the production.
The Enchantment of the Old Ballet School in the Attic
Besides the costume workshop, my visit to Opera Garnier offered another surprise: the old ballet school in the attic in the domes. An enchanting space (that made me wistfully recall my ballet class as a child) but where the opera’s talented dancers are still being trained. As I wandered the halls and felt the echoes of the past, I could almost tangibly feel the passion and dedication of the artists who study here.
Conclusion: a World of Beauty and Imagination
Exploring the world of couture and costumes at Opera Garnier was an experience that touched me deeply. From the glittering costumes to the mesmerizing sets, every aspect of the opera world is thoughtfully and beautifully crafted to last for years. It reminds me of the power of art to transport us to other worlds and inspire us as only theater can. And as I said goodbye to Opera Garnier, I took a piece of its magic with me, knowing that I can always return to this enchanting place where dreams come true.
Boom! Another view of the work in the studio
Upon returning home, I looked through the photos again. Truly a feast! And yet … I knew that deep inside me something had changed.
Remember in a previous post I talked about letting go of things to make room for what really suits us? This is such a moment for me. Again. Because while I see how beautifully everything is made, the costumes are meant to last. Longer than just one production. And that means, that the work in the studio involves not only making new things, but also (a lot of) reworking every design for a better fit for a new dancer. Adjustments have to be made as players change, as the same costume is given a new purpose, and so on. And although I look at the works of art with admiration, deep down I feel that this is not my place. Pfffiew! Feels strange, because I thought it would feel as nice as making couture.
So understand me well: the work in these studios is of high quality. It just doesn’t suit my personality to do this work. And that’s totally OK.
Flourishing in Couture Craftsmanship
Do you also want to flourish in couture craft? Then I believe it is essential to look for your interface of interest, craftsmanship and personality.
Soon I will organize an event around finding your own niche. Are you interested? Then send me a message via email or below this blog post. I will keep you informed!
At Dutch Couture Academy you will find a program aimed at helping you find your unique niche within the fashion profession, specializing in couture craft and linking that to your personal interests, knowledge and skills. In the process, you’ll also explore how you can use this to generate different sources of (passive) income so that you can live your dream of creating.
Curious about what we can do for you? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for information!