Hubert Barrère’s Enchanting Costumes for Zémire et Azor at Opéra Comique. Story by RUNWAY MAGAZINE. Photo Courtesy: Chanel / Maison Lesage / Alix Marnat.
Hubert Barrère, renowned designer and Artistic Director of the House of Lesage, has seamlessly woven his creative genius into the world of opera with his mesmerizing set designs and costumes for Zémire et Azor. The opera-ballet, originally written in 1771 during the opulent reign of Louis XV, has been revived under the spotlight at the Opéra Comique in Paris, transporting audiences to a dreamlike realm inspired by Beauty and the Beast.
Collaborating with the talented conductor and director, Louis Langrée, and acclaimed actor-director Michel Fau, Hubert Barrère’s vision intertwines the aesthetics of different eras. Against a backdrop reminiscent of a “surreal” jardin à la française, the costumes traverse the realms of Louis XV’s court, a fantastical Persia, and the sartorial trends of 1950s French fashion.
In his tribute to the art of embroidery, Hubert Barrère pays homage to the House of Lesage, where he holds the role of Artistic Director. The exquisite costume adorning Princess Zémire, the opera-ballet’s beloved protagonist, springs to life through the exceptional savoir-faire of Lesage’s embroidery ateliers. This unique creation draws inspiration from Zemire’s enchanted rose—a symbol of love, life, and death central to the opera’s plot.
The dress structure takes its cues from the sack-back gown, a favored item of women’s attire during the mid-eighteenth-century European courts. However, Hubert Barrère presents a more contemporary and graphic interpretation, drenched in a parterre of pastel pink hues. Its baroque arabesque background, painstakingly embroidered with an astonishing array of materials—17,000 beads, silver and gold threads, 38,000 flat and curved sequins, 4,500 crystals, and stars—pulsates with grandeur. The ensemble is further elevated by enormous satin appliqué flowers in shades of pink, violet, and mauve, evoking the illusion of suspended petals.
The creation of this masterpiece, incorporating the intricate techniques of Lunéville crochet and needlework, required an impressive 70 hours of design work and a staggering 210 hours of meticulous embroidery by the skilled artisans at the House of Lesage.
Hubert Barrère’s foray into opera sets and costumes is nothing short of extraordinary. With his contemporary and dreamlike vision, he transforms the stage into a breathtaking tapestry of visual splendor. By celebrating the art of embroidery, particularly the expertise of the House of Lesage, he bestows a sense of wonder upon the audience, elevating the tale of Zémire et Azor to new heights.
As the curtains rise at the Opéra Comique in Paris, Barrère’s costumes will undoubtedly transport viewers into a world where beauty, artistry, and storytelling unite in a seamless dance of fashion and opera, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of all fortunate enough to witness this enchanting production.
Maison Lesage is honored by Hubert Barrère in the opera-ballet Zémire et Azor, which will be presented from June 23 to July 1, 2023 at the Opéra Comique de Paris.