Darlinghurst Theatre Company have partnered with demi-couture designers Nicol & Ford to create a stunning collection of costumes for their Australian debut of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. The two creative companies bring the fashion and theatre world together showcasing their aligned values of embedding inclusivity, innovation, diversity, and creativity. The collaboration will come to life on stage at the Eternity Playhouse from Sunday 9th July until Sunday 20th August.
With designers Katie-Louise and Lil Nicol-Ford recently having their work acquired by the Powerhouse Museum as a part of their permanent collection, it was a natural decision to work with the talented pair.
Darlinghurst Theatre Company Artistic Director:
Nicol and Ford’s design practice pays homage to historic costuming, infusing the classic with the contemporary to create exciting fashion-forward designs. This bold boundary-pushing practice makes them the perfect duo to embark on a modern retelling of a slice of classic literature.
Along with their combined backgrounds in costume design and art history, Nicol & Ford and Darlinghurst Theatre Company share a passion for subverting traditional discourses. Since 2020, the theatre organisation has stood for radical empowerment and inclusion and champions historically excluded humans in adventurous cross-genre artistic exploration.
Lil Nicol-Ford on Nicol & Ford’s alignment with Darlinghurst Theatre Company:
We were thrilled to be approached by Darlinghurst Theatre Company for this project, contributing to their work in challenging expectations of contemporary theatre and breaking down barriers in the creative industries to work with new and innovative interdisciplinary designers.
The launch of the production follows the Thursday May 18th runway presentation of Nicol & Ford’s ‘Comet’ at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week (AAFW) at Carriageworks. While the design of the stage costumes draw inspiration from the AAFW show, all pieces will be produced with each character’s persona taken into consideration. Nicol & Ford is working closely with Director Dean Drieberg as well as the cast themselves to ensure the execution of a shared, collaborative vision.
Director Dean Drieberg on working with Nicol & Ford:
The concept of this production was to ground the world in 1812 whilst also pulling it into the present day, therefore Nicol & Ford were the perfect designers to execute this vision. I imagined the characters of Great Comet being dressed in their finest couture. Lil and Katie have incorporated details into their iconic designs that subtly contribute to the ”storytelling.
Based on Tolstoy’s War and Peace, the production focuses on the young and spontaneous Natasha (Grace Driscoll), her affair with Anatole (Jules Pendrith) and Pierre’s (Zoy Frangos) search for meaning in his life. Promising a visceral experience, the impressive cast will don Nicol & Ford’s costumes to bring to life their characters, challenging the socially rigid setting of the 19th century alongside Brendan Yeates’ liberating choreography.
On the direction of the costume design, Lil Nicol-Ford adds:
Nicol & Ford’s costume designs for Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s production of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 continue their investigation into the possibilities of Regency dress. Researching the Empire line and the influence of Grecian references on the period, we have deconstructed and subverted the constraining forms of historic dress to liberate bodies and revisit the codified and class-laden expectations of the public promenade on the stage.
With the performance combining acts of singing, dancing, acting, and playing musical instruments on stage, these unique requirements have been considered throughout the costume design process, ensuring they withstand the demands of physical stage performance.
Amylia Harris further adds:
The collaboration with demi-couture fashion designers, Nicol & Ford, opens up an exciting possibility to create a visual spectacle of costuming that transcends the traditional boundaries of theatre for this bold new production.
Experience fashion and theatre colliding with the on-stage marriage of Darlinghurst Theatre Company and Nicol & Ford. The upcoming Australian debut of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 at Eternity Playhouse opens on Sunday 9th July running until Sunday 20th August.
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Photo Credit: Anna Hay