Monday, February 29, 2016

Behind the Costumes at Boston Ballet's Onegin

Raw, romantic and riveting are the choice words I would use to describe Boston Ballet's Onegin. Just like when I was a little girl, my mother and I made our way to the theater Saturday afternoon to nourish our souls in art and history. Although attending Boston Ballet has been a mother-daughter tradition for nearly three decades, this was our first time experiencing the artistic grace and spellbinding emotion that is this tragic Russian love story.

The ballet follows Tatiana, a demure country girl infatuated with romantic novels, who falls madly in love with Eugene Onegin, an elusive aristocrat from St. Petersburg. Consumed by her wild fantasies with the debonair gentleman dressed in black, Tatiana declares her love for Onegin in an impassioned letter that he tears apart and mocks as an naïve outburst.

In the early 1960s, South African-born ballet dancer and choreographer John Cranko transformed Alexander Pushkin's verse-novel, Eugene Onegin, into a mesmerizing three act production and pitched it to the Royal Ballet in London. When the acclaimed British ballet company denied his proposal, Cranko took his masterpiece to the Stuttgart Ballet in Germany where it premiered on April 13, 1965. The Royal Ballet would later debut the ballet, but not until 2001. In 1994, Boston Ballet became the first American ballet company to perform the work with subsequent performances in 1997 and 2002.

With fashion and style from decade's past always top of mind, I couldn't help but wonder about the origin of Onegin's costumes. How and where were the fluid, pastel-colored dresses and aristocratic high-collared jackets created, I asked myself. To learn more about how Boston Ballet worked to emulate the grandeur that was imperial Russia in the early 19th century, I spoke with Charles Heightchew, manager of costume and design.

Heightchew, who learned to sew at a young age, has been overseeing Boston Ballet's costume and design department for 16 years. This veteran couturier leads a team of nearly a dozen costuming professionals and admits what he loves best about his job is the visual beauty he and his team create on stage.

Boston Ballet's production of Onegin is leased from Dutch National Ballet. From time to time, the Company will rent existing productions (which includes costumes and sets) from other ballet companies provided they're in exceptional condition. Alternatively, Boston Ballet creates productions from scratch (Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake are both Company originals) and loanthem to other ballet companies. "It is a long term decision on whether we rent or create a production," Heightchew said.

The dazzling set and elegant costume design audiences will savor on stage at the Boston Opera House is the work of the late Elisabeth Dalton, a visionary in the world of ballet and opera design. Onegin's original set and costuming was created by acclaimed German designer, Jürgen Rose who collaborated with Cranko on numerous ballets including Romeo and Juliet.

With Act I and II set in the early 1820s, audiences will see men wearing slim waist jackets with enhanced lapels and collars while women bear clothing evocative of the long, loose fitting empire style of the Romantic era. "Women are in very light dresses. You will see very slim silhouettes without obvious corseting. The empire just falls from under the bust," Heightchew explained.

Act III opens a few years later when the Biedermeier style is quite prominent. During this period of economic impoverishment that lasted until approximately 1835, audiences will notice women are clad in corsets and full skirts that are dropped low on the waist while men's clothing remains practically the same. Personally, this is my favorite act in terms of style because gowns are lavished with detail. The striking red dress Tatiana wears to a grand ball at the palace she shares with her husband, Prince Gremin, is a testament to Biedermeier.

Boston Ballet's Onegin runs until Sunday, March 6. 
For tickets, click here and experience the art, history and style for yourself.

Photos // Gene Schiavone

My tickets were courtesy of Boston Ballet

Monday, February 8, 2016

Classic Valentine Gifts for Him

He is one of the most important men (if not the most important man) in your life. For me, it's that dapper advertising executive with a taste for fine cigars and an appetite for stirred Manhattans named Mr. Chat. He dons a shawl collar tuxedo like nobody's business and sports a classic fedora straight out of 1942. Call him old fashioned if you will, but his charming personality and "ladies first" approach has gotten him this far and that's why I love him. Who isn't attracted to the Humphrey Bogart and Frank Sinatra type?! It's so classic.

Whether your Mr. Right is your husband, fiance, boyfriend or lover be sure to pamper him this Valentine's Day with a gift that radiates finesse and channels a bit of that old world charm. If he's anything like Mr. Chat, he'll love you for life. Here's a look at three of my favorites for men this year.

Launched in 2015, BOSS THE SCENT is the newest men's fragrance from German luxury brand, Hugo Boss (Mr. Chat's go-to for classic tuxedos). The evocative scent boasts the aphrodisiac Maninka fruit, an exclusive ingredient from Africa resembling passion fruit and rum, while the captivating aromas of lavender, leather and spicy ginger make for a magnetic ménage à trois. BOSS THE SCENT is available exclusively at Macy's for $85 (3.3 oz). 

The Art of Shaving Lexington Power Collection includes the must-have razor of the year. I love, love, love when Mr. Chat is freshly shaven. I'll admit, I kiss him for hours. The Lexington is the perfect tool to sustain that smoothness. The exclusive New York inspired design emits gentle micro-pulses to deliver a clean shave and embraces a Flexball technology to pivot along the contours of a man's face. The set, complete with badger brush and versatile stand, is available for $400 at The Art of Shaving stores.

The 4 Elements of the Perfect Shave Kit is one of my favorite all-inclusive grooming kits for men because it includes these product and accessory essentials: pre-shave oil, shave cream, after-save balm and a badger shaving brush. The full-size collection is available for $120 at The Art of Shaving stores.

Happy Valentine's Day!
This post was sponsored by Nike Communications

Monday, February 1, 2016

Bienvenue 2016

With 2016 in full swing now that February has arrived, I'm etching my ambitions and fostering my dreams for the forthcoming 11-month stretch. What does the new and unknown horizon hold for me, is a question I ask myself every December 31 when the bell tolls twelve to usher in anew.

This year looks to be filled with major change in my personal life and some beautiful assignments in the world of lifestyle writing. This month, you'll find me in the glossy pages of South Shore Living magazine - uncovering a resurgence in the comedy scene south of Boston. In March, I'll profile two entrepreneurs who are making a splash on the local and national fashion scene. I'll admit, my piece for next month's issue about influential women has been one of the most enriching assignments I've had the pleasure of writing.

I'm infatuated with writing about individuals who have their pulse on what's au courant. When I have the opportunity to speak with like-minded ladies who are noteworthy in their field and skilled at their craft, that's when I, too, excel at mine. Connecting with women who pursue their passion full-time and without regret is truly a driving force and constant reminder that I can take my own leap of faith. Speaking of leap, 2016 is a leap year so maybe, just maybe "I have arrived." You''ll have to keep up with me to see what unfolds.

I've been hungry to take my writing career to the next level for what seems like an eternity at this point. With the connections I've made through the years, I'm confident 2016 is the time to "really get my name out there" within the right networks and circles. I started the year off by joining two networking groups: Boston Women in Media & Entertainment (founded by Candy O’Terry and Dayla Arabella Santurri as a members-only network of accomplished women working in the media space) and Boston Business Women (a network of more than 2,000 savvy entrepreneurs doing big things in Boston - founders Kristina Tsipouras and Megan Marini will host their first annual conference on May 9 with keynote speaker Arianna Huffington - this is not to be missed!).

This year, I hope to bolster my portfolio to include some of the many publications I so admire. Yankee has been a treasured regional magazine for years and who wouldn't love to pen a piece for Town & Country?! The Huffington Post has been high on my list, as well. In 2015, I had the pleasure of writing my first online piece for Boston Common and this year, I look forward to collaborating with them again. But my creative appetite doesn't cease where the glossy pages begin. Writing a novel or children's book has longed reigned deep within my dreams. I'll leave you with this - if you've never read The Story of Mademoiselle Oiseau by Andrea de La Barre de Nanteuil,
you must. Talk about an introspective look into the realm of deep imagination.
photos // Carol Evans