Michael Cepress’s grandfather was a watchmaker, and he makes clothes as if they were fine watches. He specializes in witty, dazzling detail, and surprising use of subtle color. His verve, panache, and real innovation light up the so-often stuffy arena of high-end menswear. A designer trained in classic clothing design and tailoring, his theatrical flare was fostered by a stretch of work with Seattle Opera.

Michael’s design ethic is a perfect match for 3Seasons,
with its combination of precise classical attention to detail and crazy new takes on about every aspect of moving the body across or along or above the floor.

An exhibit of Michael’s called RRRRRRR!! Paper Fashion,
caught Olivier’s eye:
designing—Michael Cepress1
a collar, in paper…

designing—Michael Cepress2
…a costume, in felt.

What more would he come up with?
Baroque dresses constructed of surprising materials…
…foil-gilded derby hats…
…birdcage headdresses.

designing—Michael Cepress6

designing—Michael Cepress5

designing—Michael Cepress3

Whatever else, it was to be a true rethinking of costume design—a thinking carefully about again—that draws on conventions and well-established visual pleasures, but scours them of every ounce of boredom, pretension or staidness.

No automatic pilots here!

Toward the end of the process
of making 3Seasons costumes,
I spoke with Michael again, and ask him what had been
the special challenges and pleasures of this project.
First challenges—
Coming to terms with the different shapes of women’s bodies;
employing new materials;
making garments that can stand up to the ferocious wear of dancers-in-motion and that needed, for the sake of serving the choreographic vision, to be dirtied, stretched, used in extreme conditions.
Then the pleasures—
which came from learning, putting known skills to use in creating something new; and from the working ensemble, each part of the enterprise feeding on the others with a rare degree of subtlety in communication between the co-creators.

designing—Michael Cepress4
…see more of Michael Cepress‘s work at  michaelcepress.com
Photos in this post supplied by Michael Cepress and La Vie Photography

Visit our website at: http://www.whimwhim.org
And follow WhimW’Him on Facebook and Twitter