Sandy D’Andrade, a veteran costume designer from Philadelphia, has been creating handmade knitwear for well over 30 years. With her rich-colored collection of skirts, scarves, jackets and gowns, D’Andrade has turned her artistry to supporting the Chautauqua Opera Young Artists through the Chautauqua Opera Guild for the last 12 years.
And, as it turns out, the bond with opera-going folk was a perfect fit.
“There has always been a connection between wonderful clothing and opera, whether it be the costumes or the clothes that one gets dressed up in,” D’Andrade said.
Although one may not find any Baby Doe-like gowns or feathery outfits, D’Andrade said that her opera-themed clothing is “definitely an entrance kind of outfit” for frequenters of Norton Hall.
In 2005, when she began this style of clothing, D’Andrade crafted a Madam Butterfly array of shirts and gowns, some with kimono sleeves, others with pastel wing patterns — all made individually and by hand.
Her latest, a collection around the theme of Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma, she said, takes influence from the “naturalistic images” and the Druid ministry one would find on the main stage. Her pastel pink gowns and bright blue dresses, she said, are “something we imagine a Druid priestess might want to wear.”
From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in the parlor of the Athenaeum Hotel, D’Andrade and her husband, Matt Alperin, will be presenting this display of clothing, along with her 2013 lace collection, continuing a series of trunk shows. Other than raising money for the Guild, she hopes to prove that dressing up for the opera is still a fun occasion and an art in itself.
Yet D’Andrade’s intentions with her knitwear aren’t meant to entirely distract operagoers from the show in front of them.
“We try not to make things that are too fancy, but mainly clothing that is comfortable to wear,” she said.