First Sight Is All Right

Designers promise out-of-sight creations for Dallas Opera season opener

Designers promise out-of-sight creations for Dallas Opera opener

Elizabeth Anyaa, Dallas Opera First Sight
Designer Elizabeth Anyaa works on her interpretation of the 2014-2015 Dallas Opera season, debuting at First Sight Fashion Show on October 23. Photo by Celeste Hart
Rhonda Sargent Chambers, Abi Ferrin, Dallas First Sight
Fashion show producer Rhonda Sargent Chambers stops in to visit with Abi Ferrin at her studio. Photo by Celeste Hart
Jeffrey Horn, Dallas Opera First Sight
Jeffrey Horn, event architect for the First Sight, reviews his plans for the event. Photo by Celeste Hart
Elizabeth Anyaa, Dallas Opera First Sight
Rhonda Sargent Chambers, Abi Ferrin, Dallas First Sight
Jeffrey Horn, Dallas Opera First Sight

Dallas’ most stylish arts patrons will be lined up at Winspear Opera House on Thursday, October 23, for a fashion presentation unlike any other: First Sight Fashion Show and Luncheon. The show, which features Roberto Cavalli and six gowns custom-made by various Dallas-based designers, introduces the Dallas Opera’s 2014-15 season titled “Heights of Passion.”

Each designer has been tasked with creating a gown inspired by an opera. This year’s matchups include Elizabeth Anyaa and La Wally; Abi Ferrin and Salome; Khanh Nguyen and La Boheme; Nicolas Villalba and The Marriage of Figaro; Michael Faircloth and Iolanta; and, creating a men’s garment for the first time, Edo Popken and Everest. All pieces are later auctioned off by Heritage Auctions to raise funds for the Dallas Opera.

 “It’s so rewarding to be a part of the Dallas Opera community,” Abi Ferrin says. “It is one of the rare occasions when designers get touted as artists.”

Fashion show chair and producer Rhonda Sargent Chambers says “it’s like Christmas” when she sees the gowns for the first time, but it’s much more than that for the creators of these couture pieces.

“It’s so rewarding to be a part of the Dallas Opera community,” says Ferrin, who, even after four years, still gets goose bumps when she sees her designs onstage. “It is one of the rare occasions when designers get touted as artists, when we just get to be creative and have fun because there is no pressure to create something that is sellable or can be mass produced.”

Anyaa seconds that sentiment, adding that the freedom to create a piece straight from her imagination, with no real restrictions, is a dream come true for any designer. However, Anyaa promises you will always see her signature details even in the most abstract of creations.

“I do a lot of texture, and most people know me creating things that are black and white,” Anyaa says. “This year will be white. It’s still going to be very neutral with the snow, death and avalanche that I have to incorporate into my look.”

The designers are not the only ones hard at work preparing for First Sight. Event architect Jeffrey Horn, adopting the theme of Everest, promises a beautiful, frosty blue lobby, which will serve as the backdrop for this memorable affair. Equally memorable will be the high-tech runway — used in a fashion show capacity for the first time — with designers’ names, sponsor logos and unique lighting illuminating the part of the floor designated as the runway.

After the fashion show, guests will stay in their seats for a lunch catered by Wolfgang Puck. The evening of October 24, the “Heights of Passion” season kicks off officially with First Night, which includes a pre-performance dinner, The Marriage of Figaro and a lively after-party.

Tickets for both First Sight and First Night are still available on the Dallas Opera website.