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Opera Meets Project Runway

February 11, 2011

student fashion sketch of dress design for opera company

We all know the story of Shakespeare's classic tale of star crossed lovers, but Romeo and Juliet gets a couture fashion twist in the Philadelphia Opera Company's current production which is playing this month at the venerable Academy of Music.  Manfred Schweigkofler's production of Charles Gounod's opera pits the Montagues and Capulets against each other as dueling couture fashion houses. Juliet is the face of her family's brand, appearing on billboards and in magazine spreads. To give the play the genuine feel of high fashion the Opera Company enlisted our fashion design students, along with students from Moore and Philadelphia University, to create the clothes for a scene featuring a runway fashion show.  Our nine student designs represent the majority of the 16 designs chosen for the production. Congratulations to our student designers Jacqueline Ryan, Harrison Johnson, Cassandra Kane, Prisca Millance, Sarah Meuller, Kristin Eissler, Samantha Gebhard, Anna Karinna Lake and Heather Royal.

Our student designers attended the Opera Company's annual fundraising gala, this year appropriately titled L'Amour & Couture, this past weekend, at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, where there was a preview runway show of all of their designs in front of a room full of 250 of the Opera Companies biggest supporters. They joined their models on stage and met with Eliana Papadakis, former first lady of Drexel and this year's Opera Company honoree, and her daughter Maria.

Richard St. Clair, the Opera Company's costume designer, gave the students some direction: Juliet's house should be over-the-top, with a neutral and black color scheme. Romeo's house would feature urban Italian street wear in reds and blues. The Opera Company has cast fashion models to wear the winning designs, which will travel with the production to three Italian cities after the Philadelphia run from February 11th through the 20th. Click here to see sketches of our student designs, watch videos of each student on what inspired their design, and to learn more about the Philadelphia Opera Company.  If you're interested in seeing the opera, visit for more information.