It’s here! 2015 is fast fleeting by, and suddenly, it’s Opera Season! We’re very excited at Brava! to see so many items from our Performance Attire Collection assembled in one orchestra! This Season’s favorites include the Diana Dress, Shirred Ankle Pants, Wrap Pants, 3/4 Sleeve Flower Crop Tops, Flower Skirts, 3/4 Sleeve Cowl Neck Tops, Eight-Panel Skirts, and Long-Sleeve Boat Neck Tunics.
We’re making our Orchestra member clientele feel cool, comfortable, while looking so elegant in their Brava! Performance Attire! This can only have a positive affect upon overall morale, which means we’ll be making beautiful music! We look forward to a wonderful 2015 Season!
I don’t know why people, including me, always say about a new season’s trendy color, that it’s the “New Black“. There isn’t any color which can replace black; you can’t beat it. It has always been the standard for elegance, versatility and style. At Brava!, black is our most important color; not our only color, but certainly our raison d’etre.
After all, the original idea for Brava! came to me while I was attending a concert of solidarity, performed by the San Francisco Opera Orchestra last year. Amidst the appalling orchestra lockouts in Minnesota, and Atlanta, they had been negotiating their own contracts, unsure of the future. There seemed to be an ever-eroding respect for the Performing Arts, and especially music education, creating an apprehensive atmosphere among professional musicians on a national level. The Orchestra came onstage at the Concert Hall, relieved about the results of their successful negotiations with the Union. The men looked fine in their tuxedos; the women wore their concert blacks.
I knew, of course, that orchestral musicians must wear black in the orchestra pit, but hadn’t really thought about this. There are about thirty female musicians in the S.F. Opera Orchestra, and each one has to come up with a concert black outfit for every performance. There are ten operas scheduled for the 2015-2016 Season, which runs from September – December, then May through June, for a total of 68 regular opera performances, plus any other events the Orchestra is required to perform. This means that each of these women must come up with at least sixty-eight concert black outfits each year. Sixty-eight! Even with double performance days, and switching around the same outfits every week, you’re still looking at a big need for black performance attire.
I saw that the gentlemen looked pretty good in their tuxedos, but the poor ladies were wearing any black they could find. They clearly had issues with matching dye-lots, shrinking, fading, and fit. A lot of them looked uncomfortable. These women were world-class musicians, and I thought they deserved better, especially in this alarmingly pervasive atmosphere of disrespect for the Arts.
When I worked backstage for some of the Lamplighters Music Theatre productions, I had also been required to wear all-black. Being an ex-New Yorker, I certainly owned plenty of black pieces, but always struggled to find comfortable and appropriate black outfits. I laughed to myself, because these days, if I need to wear appropriate, comfortable and stylish black these days, I have my bamboo clothing by Carole Wang.
“I could help them dress.” I thought.
This was no fleeting thought. I decided to see if providing a working wardrobe for female orchestral musicians was a viable idea. I took an informal survey of my friends in the Performing Arts, and found It was as I’d thought; the respondents all faced the same wardrobe dilemmas. I was surprised to find that half of these women were professional singers and actresses. It seems it’s also difficult to find the appropriate audition outfits, or stunning dresses for big events and recitals. I knew I was definitely onto something, then.
About six months later, during my opening event at the Lamplighters Music Theatre rehearsal space, I was further surprised. After our fun, informal fashion show, there was a rush to purchase. And, these women weren’t only buying concert black, but also in these same pieces in colors, for elegant casualwear. The final surprise was that these clothes had a such a wide appeal, to ages 25-65, and to a variety of body types.
Real clothes, for real women.
Brava! has the “New Black“ – Concert Black.
I think we all need some help at times. I know I do. I always feel bad when I am not in a position to help someone when they really need it. Brava! is not just a company that sells clothing; it’s a company with a conscience. I want to help people. I want to pay it forward.
For this reason, I’m attaching links to some websites my friends own. I believe these links are relevant to the Brava! creed, and I encourage people to check them out. If you look, you’ll see a pattern here. One of my favorite companies is The Lamplighters Music Theatre. I became involved with these wonderful, talented people over ten years ago, through my daughter’s love for the performing arts. They’re like family to us now. I serve on the Lamplighters Music Theater Guild, happily, and lend my fund-raising efforts towards this excellent theatre company with my whole heart. I love their educational programs which introduce children of all ages to the magic of Gilbert & Sullivan, and musical theatre, the best kind. My daughter’s life was changed forever the first time she saw “H.M.S. Pinafore” at Yerba Buena. Little did she know at the time that she would appear in “Pinafore” on that very same stage within a few years. Happy days!
Every time someone spends with Brava! the Lamplighters Music Theatre receives a percentage of my sale. It’s a win-win situation. Check out this season’s fabulous production of “H.M.S. Pinafore“! If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a treat. If you have, some of your old favorites are back, and some new stars are in the making. Photograph by Craig Hudson Photography, 2010.
Back to my sister, Evelyn, who was so much a part of me. We were always on each other’s side, always loving, but honest with each other. We had a saying about someone who seemed to have thrown together an outfit which shouldn’t have worked, but somehow did. “She gets away with it!” This meant that neither of us could wear something that outlandish or in such poor taste, but that other woman could. I can still see her pronouncing this dubious compliment, a wry smile on her lips.
Getting away with it. Was this something to be envied? Sometimes. And yet…
Then there are the people who manage to do more than just get away with it. Sometimes, while on shopping expeditions, Evelyn and I used to follow people with whom we became intrigued. We weren’t stalking, and we weren’t being catty. We merely wanted to further study these people to see why their outfits worked so well.
Which all leads me back here. Just why do some people have the ability to seemingly throw on a couple of pieces of clothing and have it all come together and look perfect? I have, on rare occasions, possessed this ability. I was told so, but not by my sister. If we were going out somewhere, Evelyn would work on me until I passed inspection. “All right,” she’d say, adjusting a scarf or lapel. “You’ll get away with it!”.
These days I want more than just to get away with something. I want to look my best, feel comfortable, and feel confident. I really don’t care about fashion trends. I know who I am. My sister told me. I have forsaken most of my other clothes to wear, almost exclusively, the Carole Wang Collection from Brava!