From opera to hats, a fresh twist on old traditions? Hear about Frank Gehry and Rodarte's Don Giovanni from Thomas Aujero Small and Victoria Newhouse. Philip Treacy and Frank Strauss discuss America's renewed interest in hats. Plus, Hunter Drohojowska-Philp remembers Vidal Sassoon, and Anayansi Diaz-Cortez and Eric Pearse-Chavez tell us about the Sonic Trace design challenge to KCRW listeners.
FROM THIS EPISODE
This Friday night, the Walt Disney Concert Hall will unveil the first of four performances of Don Giovanni. It will have sets designed by architect Frank Gehry, costumes by conceptual clothiers Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte, and Gustavo Dudamel at the podium. It’s the hottest high culture ticket in town—and it is a signature example of how opera and classical music are now repositioning themselves to attract new and younger audiences. The set and costumes are being kept under tight wraps, though Gehry has said he’ll create a “moving still-life on the stage” and he has hinted that there’ll be strong contrasts and abstraction.
Thomas Aujero Small writes about the intersection of architecture and music and gives his thoughts on the production, and architectural historian Victoria Newhouse explains how this production demonstrates a new direction in opera and classical music. Small hosts intimate classical music performances in his Culver City home like the Nimbus Ensemble, an LA-based chamber orchestra. He also recommends Chamber Music in Historic Sites, which stages concerts in offbeat, interesting buildings. And through May 27, Crescent City, billed as a "hyperopera," runs at Atwater Crossing. See more new venues for classical music at the DnA blog.
Guests gather at Small's home; photo by Jean-Claude Demirdjian
Young Riddle introduces Nimbus Ensemble at Small's home; photo by Jean-Claude Demirdjian
Garik Terzian performs with Nimbus Ensemble; photo by Jean-Claude Demirdjian
Top image: Nimbus Ensemble perform at Thomas Small's house; photo by Jean-Claude Demirdjian
It used to be that nobody went bareheaded; now most people do. But hats are making a comeback. And one reason for that might be Philip Treacy. He is the designer and hand-maker of extraordinary headgear for the likes of Lady Gaga and members of the Royal family. The Irish-born designer was in Los Angeles last week for Britweek, and Frances caught up with him at a party at the new Christopher Guy showroom in West Hollywood. Treacy, who grew up in a large Irish family, says Hollywood was his primary influence. Treacy mentions that ten years ago Americans thought the very notion of hat design was odd. Now he says, not so much. This dovetails with the experience of Frank Strauss, who back in 2000 came up with the idea of opening a hat store. Frances visited him at Fedora Primo, on Pier Avenue in Ocean Park, Santa Monica.
Frank Strauss, owner of Fedora Primo; photo by Bennett Stein
Fedora Primo in Santa Monica; photo by Bennett Stein
Top image: Hat by Philip Treacy
The legendary hairdresser Vidal Sassoon recalled that in the 1950s, you'd place a hat on women’s hair and “dress their hair around it.” Last Wednesday, Vidal Sassoon died, at the age of 84, leaving a huge cultural legacy. KCRW's own art critic, Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, was a great friend of his and remembers his remarkable contribution.
Top image: Vidal Sassoon styling Mia Farrow's hair for Rosemary's Baby. Image via Wikipedia
Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, Contributor, 'Art Talk'
Calling KCRW designers, builders and engineers! The independent radio producers Anayansi Diaz-Cortez and Eric Pearse-Chavez are working on a documentary project called Sonic Trace, which captures the stories of immigrants from Southern Mexico and Central America. They need an eye-catching sound booth that they will transport around town for several months as they conduct interviews. They are asking you to compete to design and build the structure that will house their audio equipment. Sonic Trace will cover the cost of materials and give you or your firm plenty of public credit. Here are more details on how to enter.
Eric Pearse-Chavez, Producer, 'Sonic Trace'
More From Design and Architecture
The creative economy rises in California A decade after the Great Recession, how is Los Angeles doing? A new study out this week looks at creative economy jobs in California, and finds they now exceed the pre-recession peak in 2007. That’s just one finding from the annual Otis Report on the Creative Economy. But costs of participating in the creative economy are growing too.
Electric Jaguar, Venice Biennale, rethinking Yamashiro Saturday's royal wedding ended with the newly married Duke and Duchess of Sussex driving off in an electric car: a retrofitted 1968 E-Type Jaguar. Can all classic sports cars go clean? We also get a preview of the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. And we hike up to Yamashiro, the faux-Japanese hilltop restaurant in Hollywood, as part of our ongoing look at identity in design.
Homeless in Koreatown, Deconstructing Kanye Koreatown residents are fighting to keep homeless housing out of their neighborhood. What does this mean for efforts to build a shelter in every LA council district? And hip-hop mogul Kanye West has huge ambitions that include his own design and architecture businesses. But could his recent controversial statements about race and politics derail these ambitions?
LATEST BLOG POSTS
5 design things to do this week This week: See a new public artwork waving in the sea breeze by Patrick Shearn, say Yes to ADUs, find out how Luis Barragán’s ashes became a diamond ring, follow artists as they make “place” in four unincorporated LA County neighborhoods, and check out the work of 200 zine-makers in Pasadena. Read More
Deconstructing Kanye Kanye West loves architecture. Is that good news for a profession little understood by the general public, and long lacking in diversity? Or do his recent provocations about slavery and President Trump complicate his interest in the built environment? Read More