March 2021: L'incoronazione di Poppea

Costume design for the opera L'incoronazione di Poppea by Claudeo Monteverdi.

This project was part of my studies at Edinburgh College of Art. The assignment was to independently research, develop and present costume designs for the ten characters of the opera. This included presenting textile samples, a project book with research and development files, finished costume illustrations as well as technical drawings of the garments, and a basic idea for scenography.

A digitally collaged lineup of ten character illustrations. They have various outfits but all of them resemble 1970s pop- and rockstars such as Bianca Jagger, Farrah Fawcett, Robert Plant or Chaka Khan.

Character lineup from left to right: Mercury, Drusilla, Seneca, Ottavia, Nerone, Poppea, Ottone, Fortuna, Virtue. Amore laying down.
Below: pages from project book detailing the final designs of Nerone and Poppea.

L'incoronazione di Poppea concerns itself with how love makes fools of us all, forcing nations to step aside to accommodate the desires of two lovers. With the framing of Amore proving his complete power over mortals to his fellow deities, this iteration of Poppea views the corrupt emperor Nerone and his entourage through the lens of 1970s' pop and rock stars, examining the relationships between power and aesthetics.

I contrasted the pairing of the rich baroque music and the lavish aesthetics of the 1970s, with the aesthetics of greco-roman antiquity, evoking it with symbols of the culture and water marbling. Much of this project was dedicated to getting the textil techniques right in order to use them to establish a language of design. For instance, Amores influence on a character can be seen in the use of gold and surface prints, whereas Fortunas mark is the use of embroidered embellishment and animal materials such as fur and beetle wings.

Textile samples, left to right: water marbled leather, beetle wings and beads embroidered onto black fabric, water marbled and quilted cotton.
Below: pages from project book describing the development phase, with sketches and samples of water marbling. A basic sketch of the scenography.