Monday, May 21, 2012

Unexpected Inspiration

On Friday, Tom and I went to an opera at the Kennedy Center. We'd gotten a deal where, if you're in a certain age range, you can get pretty decent seats at a lower price, if you go to three shows. I'm new to the opera, have never really had an opinion about the genre in general, and find my appreciation for everything I've seen a bit surprising.

I mean, I'd fully expected to find the performances impressive (duh) but I did not expect to really fall in love with any of it. I guess in opera, like with any performance art, the costumes (along with set design) really pack a punch and have a huge impact on how the overall performance is conveyed. In this most recent show we attended, Nabucco, I was really struck by the costume design. The story is mainly set in ancient Babylon, which I'd say is not my favorite era for fashion inspiration. In fashion, I'm drawn to cutesy and quirky and those words don't seem to have any relationship to ancient Babylonian style - the costumes were dramatic and rich, elegant and functional all at the same time.
(all performance images are from the Kennedy Center's site)

Now, I do realize that the costumes seen in a show like this are not meant to be 100% historically accurate reproductions, but rather focus more on conveying a certain look and feel. The dress I found most inspiring, for example, is obviously made from modern fabrics and materials and appeared to be constructed around a built-in (non-ancient-style) corset-thingy, with outer layers of flowy, sparkly chiffon(?) strategically draped upon one another, all coming together with a single zipper in a rather elegant way. The blue and teal shades with gold accents created a very striking ensemble.

favorite costume - blurry :(

Another similar and inspiring outfit also seemed to have an inner support structure, with fabric arranged and draped across it (please excuse my obviously non-expert descriptions!). These gowns didn't just look awesome, but also looked like they'd be fun to wear. I'd think it would feel pretty good to strut around in a custom-made gown with built-in support that holds everything in place on your upper half while the lower part of the dress' skirt swishes and flows around you as you move. I also really found myself fascinated by the diagonal gold, sparkly accents across the hip area on both dresses. It kind of made me think of a belly dancer...but in a good way.

Well, that was Friday's unexpected inspiration. Saturday's was at the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival. Tom and I checked it out with his parents and I was really surprised by how many artists' pieces I was drawn to. I've been to the festival many times over the years and worked as a volunteer there with my mom when I was younger, but have never come close to buying any artwork. Though I didn't end up buying anything myself this year, there was a lot to get excited about. I think my favorite artist there this time was Dolan Geiman

market stroll
I was really attracted to this pair, but they were a little bit out of my price range. The cool thing about them that you can't quite tell for sure from this picture is the backgrounds in the wood cutouts consist of real labels and rulers and pieces of things layered on each other in stripes, kind of. I love how the artist incorporates a rustic vibe into his work that often has a vintage feel as well.

He also uses a lot of tree and bird imagery, which is something I always like. I came close to buying a print of this yellow bird on a red nest, but once I found out he's on Etsy, I convinced myself I didn't have to make a purchase right then. I can always go online if there's something it turns out I must have. Also, we have a lot of wall art in our house already, so I'm not even sure where any new additions could go. Especially since Tom did end up bringing home one of the prints we saw.

The Bookmobile - Tom's print

Anyway, it was a fun, busy, and inspirational weekend. I feel like I got my creative juices flowing since I'd been kind of in a little funk lately. It's been a busy month so far, but hopefully I can take some time to CREATE something soon.

How was everyone's weekend? Sew anything?


  1. I love that bird-and-nest picture...the textures are really awesome!

  2. Its so nice to get inspiration from unexpected sources! The opera looks amazing - costumes are always fun to look at.

  3. Sounds like you had a fun weekend! I love the second of your inspiration dresses, and the artwork looks lovely!


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