Operatic Fashion on the Runway

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Beneath belting vocals and tear-jerking storylines, the opera stage has long served as fashion’s playground. Originally opening its doors on 39th Street and Broadway in New York City, the Metropolitan Opera House has served as an incubator for some of the most daring fashion trends since its original establishment on October 22, 1883. Although the first structure (now known as the Old Met, pictured above) suffered from a fire 1892 and reopened after several renovations, by the mid-20th century, the inaugural location could no longer serve the company’s growing repertory, production staff, and audience. The current Metropolitan Opera House, the centerpiece of the Upper West Side’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, opened in 1966, replacing the Old Met and hosting a new era of classical and modern opera backed by one of the most technologically equipped stages in the world. To this day, audiences enjoy fantastical productions on the Met’s stage, featuring stunning costumes that are ripe with inspiration for designers. From ultra-cinched waists and bustling skirts to sky-high collars, or the eponymously named opera coat, the dramatic motifs of opera costumes have echoed throughout fashion’s finest since day one‚Äďand most recently as one of Spring/Summer 2020s standout trends. In honor of the anniversary of the Old Met’s opening, CR rounds up the sartorial impact of opera on runways old and new.

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