New York Fashion Week 2017: 5 Iconic Fashion Designers Who Have Dressed Today’s Divas

By Francisco Salazar

Today the fashion world gets together to display the latest trends for the upcoming spring season. Designers will show off everything from concept designs, gowns to regular clothing for everyday use. The week may be attended by some of opera’s biggest superstars and they may just get a new dress designed for their upcoming recital or concert. To celebrate Fashion Week and in collaboration with OperaFashion,  OperaWire will put out a set of of articles that will inform audiences about fashion and the operatic world.

To begin we look at some of the designers that have stepped in to dress some of opera’s greatest divas.

Rubin Singer 

Rubin Singer debuted his collection at the 2007 New York Fashion Week and has since then rose to fame. His breakout came in 2013 when he dressed Beyonce for the Superbowl halftime show. The designer has since developed nine different clothing collections.

However, before becoming a successful designer he became a lover of opera. The designer said on his blog “I became an Opera fanatic at the age of 12 when my mother took me to see The Ring by Richard Wagner at the Met… She said ‘If you love these 3 operas, you will love all opera for the rest of your life.’ She was right.” Since then Singer has frequently posted pictures of going to the opera on his Instagram account.

Since becoming a renowned designer, Singer has made gowns for many great divas. In 2013 he designed two dresses for Ailyn Perez’s Richard Tucker Gala. In 2015 Anna Netrebko wore a Singer gown to the Sky Arts Awards in London where she also performed. His latest operatic conquest was Russian Soprano Albina Shagimuratova who wore two of his designs to her role debut as “Semiramide” at the Royal Albert Hall.

Zac Posen 

Zac Posen is most famous for his work on Project Runway and for his outspoken character. He has also become a favorite to such celebrities as favorite of Natalie Portman, Rihanna, Amanda Seyfried, Kate Winslet, Claire Danes, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Mischa Barton and Beyoncé Knowles.

The designer has been to the opera numerous times particularly on opening night at the Metropolitan Opera. He attended in 2008 when Renee Fleming headlined the gala and in 2013 when Anna Netrebko opened the season with Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore.”

As a designer he has frequent made gowns for Anna Netrebko, who he has sited to be on his playlist and who he has invited numerous times to his fashion week runways. Posen has made two very famous black gowns for Netrebko. The first came in 2013 for the opening night red carpet at the Metropolitan Opera and the second came in 2016 when he designed Netrebko’s Richard Tucker Gala gown which was seen on medici TV. During Netrebko and Posen’s meeting, Posen uploaded a video on Instagram that went went viral.

The designer has also dressed rising star Nadine Sierra numerous times. Most recently she was seen wearing a Posen gown at the David Gockley gala at the San Francisco Opera. Posen designed a yellow gown for Sierra for the 2016 Richard Tucker gala.

Vivienne Westwood 

Vivienne Westwood is a British fashion designer and businesswoman who is largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream.

Throughout the past years Joyce DiDonato has championed her gowns as she has worn them for many of her recent costumes including the recent Richard Tucker gala and for her album cover. She also used Westwood’s attire onstage for her tour and album – “In War & Peace – Harmony through Music.” Two outfits were created for the cover and tour. Westwood also created 5 previous gowns exclusively for DiDonato, including two “transformer dresses” that contain multiple looks.

Another soprano who has championed the gowns of Westwood is Renee Fleming. Westwood has designed gowns for the diva for recitals, Richard Tucker galas and the Barbican. She also designed a dress for Fleming’a concert performances of Capriccio at the Royal Opera House and for the Last Night at Proms.

Other stars who have worn Westwood include Anita Hartig, Danielle Di Niese and Kristine Opolais.

Oscar de La Renta

Oscar De La Renat was a frequent opera goer before his passing in 2014 and became known for his luxurious gowns that many celebrities have worn and continue to wear. As a lover of the arts he served as a board member of the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall and WNET.  So it is not a surprise that he dressed some of opera’s most famous superstars.

Anna Netrebko most recently wore De La Renta at the Bastille in 2014. The yellow gown was later used for a photoshoot for the New York Times when she revealed her newly extended apartment. She then wore the designer at her Beaver Creek Recital For Colorado and in 2016 for concert tour with her husband Yusif Eyvazov.

Renée Fleming also wore De La Renta, most famously when she sang for Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. In an interview in 2012, she commented on how the dress that she wore was so huge that she had to find somebody who was flying there to transport it.

The glamorous Angela Gheorghiu was also known for wearing a number of his gowns and when he died in 2014, she posted on Facebook stating “I am so sorry to hear of Oscar de la Renta’s sudden death. Style, elegance and delicacy are trademarks of his lifetime creations. ‘My job is to make a woman feel her very best’ he said once. And so right he was, I confess! He was loved and apprecitaed by all who knew him. Rest in peace, my dear Oscar, a unique designer and friend!”

Vera Wang

Vera Wang needs no introduction as she has become one of the most iconic fashion designers in America. A frequent operagoer, the designer probably has one of the most famous dresses ever created for an opera singer. Wang designed Renée Fleming’s iconic Super Bowl outfit that was later put into the Smithsonian’s collection. According to Wang, “the black dress was constructed from a fabric used for athletics, two-way stretch and incredibly comfortable as singing is a very physical act. The weather was a huge concern so the ivory faille capelet was interlined for freedom of movement, and warmth, as a huge snowstorm was actually predicted for that night… How to define an icon of culture at one of America’s defining sport events? For me, it was about sleek, no distractions, and a certain subtle drama to both celebrate her talent and the significance of the event for all Americans and New Yorkers as well!”

Wang dressed the soprano for her wedding and Fleming, who is a good friend of hers, said, “she designed a gorgeous floor-length dress.”


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