Monday, August 9, 2010

Act Two Costumes: the Magic of Ombré

Many commenters on our Tristan und Isolde production have noticed how, in his costume design, Robert Israel has leeched away the color from Isolde's vibrant red dress in Act One, over the course of the opera, so that she and Tristan are both in white by the end of the opera, when they enter the world of night.
In Act One, Isolde wears red.

In Act Two, she is fading to white.

And in Act Three, there's only a little bit of red left.

Lia Nouwen (above), Crafts Supervisor at Seattle Opera's Costume Shop, explains how she used an effect called "ombré" for the subtle gradient that distinguishes Tristan's and Isolde's Act Two Costumes. "In ombré, the dying is graded so that it’s very, very dark in this example at the bottom of the dress and then slowly and gradually fades away into white. It's a very challenging process, not necessarily to do it, but to do it cleanly and smoothly and well. In this instance it’s a bright red dye and a screaming red dye and if you get one spot in the wrong place, if you splash even a little bit, it’ll ruin the effect. So that’s pretty stressful."

All photos by Rozarii Lynch.

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