Chicago Sinfonietta: ICYMI: A surprise reveal is coming…May 14th (Naperville) and May 16th (Downtown Chicago)

Avante-garde fashion meets celebrated music this May at the concert hall. Sculptor and designer Carley Brandeaux is collaborating with Chicago Sinfonietta to produce a spectacular living work of art that will premier as violinist Melissa White takes the stage at our spring concert. 

Brandeaux, a native of North Carolina, completed a Master of Design degree in Fashion, Body and Garment at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she studied under the direction of artist Nick Cave. She was also the recipient of SAIC’s highest recognition, the New Artist Society Scholarship.  

The artwork was painstakingly crafted with hand painted dupioni silk and a one-of-a-kind linen/rayon blend, woven by Emily Winter at Chicago’s very own The Weaving Mill. Custom made for Melissa White, the dynamic dress required multiple fittings that took into account the expressive movement of the violinist and led to a design that is as much sculpture as it is fashion. 

More than just on-stage attire – the gown is part of the performance of Chen Gang’s / He Zhanhao’s beloved Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto and will be revealed in stages throughout the piece as White plays, thus becoming an integral part of the performance.

During the performance, the stages are like that of a butterfly’s development, starting with a chrysalis, then unwrapping to reveal the adult butterfly in all its beauty.

Says Brandeaux, “The one thing I want the audience to know, I want them to know it’s alive”.

The markings and colors of the garment are drawn from the American Painted Lady butterfly. When researching this project, Brandeaux was looking to butterflies in the Midwest region, as a way to connect the music to where it’s being performed. When hiking one summer afternoon, she saw an American Painted Lady butterfly, and was able to identify it because of this project
Struck by its intricate markings and how different it looked with every movement, this became the inspiration for the dress. Said the designer, „Underneath the greens and yellows there are shiny flickers of blues, reds, oranges and browns throughout. The color mixing is a lot like painting but perhaps even more visually intriguing!“

Violinist Melissa White, an accomplished soloist, frequent guest with Chicago Sinfonietta, and founding member of the Harlem Quartet, was also a huge  inspiration to the artist:“With Melissa, there’s some sort of balance between energetic and bright and calm…I’m excited to see how it looks on stage with lighting and Melissa’s movements.” 

The collaboration is another stunning first for Chicago Sinfonietta, and the classical music industry. While garments have long been designed for singers, musicians, and conductors as stage attire, this is believed to be the first time a creation has been designed specifically to be part of a violin soloist’s performance. 

May 14th (Naperville) and May 16th (Downtown Chicago)