Author: Ryan

The Hours: A tribute to William Ivey Long

The Hours: A tribute to William Ivey Long

Costuming ‘The Hours’ at the Met: Vintage Wallpaper and ’90s Calvin Klein Hairstyles

When it comes to The Hours, it’s not a period that is as widely known as, say, The Scarlet Letter or The Great Gatsby. But if you’re interested in understanding the book and the character of its protagonist, it’s well worth a read. If you’re just interested in the aesthetics of the costumes, well, that’s just decoration.

The set for the new adaptation of The Hours, on view at the Metropolitan Opera from October 28 through the 30th, is a tribute to the late costume designer William Ivey Long, who served from 1987 to 1995 — and who helped design the costumes for the Met’s productions of Verdi’s opera Rigoletto and Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Sleeping Beauty (with Anna Moffo). Long, of course, also designed the costumes for the Met’s 2006 production of Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten, which was the first production of the Strauss opera mounted at the Met since 1969.

“William Ivey Long taught us to dress for beauty and for love. And in his life—he was a person who spent a lot of time with his head in his hands—he was devoted to his art. He was a genius,” Daniel Sullivan, who is in charge of the costumes for The Hours, told Vogue. “In a way it’s a bit like the Met has given us William Ivey Long’s body, because it’s his voice inside the opera house.”

The costumes were created by a team of 70 Met employees led by Sullivan, and a handful of them were given each to the actors in the show, who also help design their clothing. The costumes are simple and gorgeous: they’re based on the period costumes of Long’s youth, which he learned to play up in dress-up. There are some elaborate sets, like the baroque chapel of the Belvedere and the Sistine Chapel, but those sets had to be recreated using digital technology (which is why you see no trace of the building’s original Renaissance woodwork).

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