TAILOR TAKES ON OPERA AT THE MET
January 28 2012
The British invasion of New York culture continues apace, the latest successes seen in opera and films.
Andy Kapetanos is the tailor who has recently completed projects for the Metropolitan Opera House and the movie 'Hyde Park on Hudson', seeing him flit back and forth across the Atlantic over the past year. At the Met, he worked under the talented English costume designer Irene Bohan, on this occasion costume supervisor for designer Brigitte Reiffenstuel.
Following his success in making clothes for Colin Firth in ‘The King’s Speech’ last year, Kapetanos was all set to launch his own label collection last Spring but his American work, and the opportunity it provided to network, put that on hold.
“It offered the opportunity to become established there,” he explains. “The work for the Met was particularly challenging. I made some 40 dress outfits for the ‘Un Ballo in Maschera’ opera which premiered in New York last November, tail suits and tuxedos, in sizes ranging from 36 inch chest to 56 inches. That was quite entertaining,” he admits. There were also 18 topcoats.
Cutting and making for opera singers and the chorus entailed taking into account their often exuberant movements on stage, requiring extra depth in the sleeve, while keeping the body close. “You have to allow for the fact that these costumes will have a long life, will have to be altered for other singers,” he emphasises. “They need extra inlays and have to be cut in a way that will simplify letting out.”
“The setting was around the 1930s period, and to get the right period feel, I looked at Fred Astaire pictures. The Met thanked me for doing such an authentic job, so I hope I may work for them again.”
At top, showing some of the extent of Kapetanos's tailoring for 'Un Ballo in Maschera' at the Met. Right, Bill Murray playing President Roosevelt in the film 'Hyde Park on Hudson'.
Below, Colin Firth wears a Kapetanos overcoat in 'The King's Speech'. Above, the man himself.
His eye for period detail was acquired early on in his career when he worked at theatrical costumiers, Berman & Nathan. From there, he joined Huntsman, under Colin Hammick. A period in Hollywood followed, with ‘tailor to the stars’ Anthony Gasbarri, before he returned to the UK, where he continued to make bespoke clothes for men and for top women’s wear designers. His experience and application to research makes him a particularly versatile talent.
There are more films in the offing. He enjoyed working with Bill Murray for ‘Hyde Park on Hudson’, due to be released in the UK early February. “It’s a pity it didn’t get nominated for an Oscar,” he says wryly, though Murray has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Roosevelt.
With so much attention focused upon new young designers, it is important to recognise that there are designers and tailors out there who have been building their careers over some years, steadily honing skills and business acumen. They may not get so much media coverage but they do get the business.
The women’s collection under the Andrew Kapetanos label will be launched in May, mainly tailored wear, some dresses. He believes that there are enough ready-to-wear collections on the market for men, so prefers to keep to bespoke for them. He plays a hands on role, coming up with the ideas, cutting the original patterns and choosing cloth.
“I want to concentrate upon the UK for this launch,” he explains.”In future, I hope to sell in Japan, where I already have contacts, and in the Middle East perhaps, as well as some interested boutiques in the US.” He is determined to maintain a steady development, at this stage preferring to go to customers rather than take on the expense of a Savile Row premises but with the Row much more female friendly these days, may arrange a link up there for his women’s wear.