Medea’s Near East



Mary Martha Henderson


(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

One of my most passionate hobbies is designing and sewing costumes to wear to the Metropolitan Opera's "Live in HD" series (I call it "cosplay for sophisticates"). With an inaugural production of Cherubini's "Medea" first on the docket of the 2022-2023 season, I knew I needed to draw from a different vein than the dark, tormented promotional images that were released by the Met. Having read Euripides's namesake play over the summer, I was captivated by Medea's foreign occupation in the Near East of Corinth and its natural surroundings: the pelagic sapphire seas, the wild vegetation of exotic fruits and vines; and from a gorier perspective, the scarlet blood pouring forth from Medea's murdered sons at the end of the play. Tragedy most often follows the forms of sanguine shades.

Outline the construction…

While I was reading "Medea" in the summer, a friend gifted me with a bag full of high end upholstery samples from an interior design firm in Ft Lauderdale, FL. Among the array of jacquards and brocades was a sumptuous piece of cobalt velvet and a yard of mesmerizing embroidered linen. Immediately, I had my vision: a boxy crop top out of the velvet and a column skirt showcasing the flamboyant pattern of the linen. Simplicity was of utmost importance.
Using the free Agustina Top from fabrics-store com as my base, I altered the blouse to be more of a bateau neckline and shortened the sleeves, which occurred not only as a fashion decision, but out of enforcement; my yard of velvet was meager and hardly a scrap was left. However, the top on its own looked too much like an unfinished sloper and therefore I decided to form architectural pleats at the center front.
To preserve the embroidery of the skirt, I did not cut the one yard sample into gores, but rather sewed a center back seam, leaving a slit at the bottom for movement, and then fitted the fabric with side seam darts. A stashed wad of red linen in a perfectly coordinating color formed the curved waistband. Together, the crop top and skirt made for a haute couture ensemble that could rival any fashion magazine cover. Who knew that the natural beauty of the ancient Near East could be so interpretive ?!



1 Comment

  1. Constance MacKenzie Constance MacKenzie on May 10, 2023 at 8:14 am

    Your dramatic choice of skirt fabric is really well shown off in the elegant yet simple design. Its lovely that you dress for the operatic occasion.

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