North Carolina native William Ivey Long is one of the most renowned theatrical costume designers working today. This exhibition, organized by The Mint Museum, explores Long’s most recent work, from 2007 to today. It features the theatrical productions The Lost Colony (redesigned 2007–2008), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (2013), Little Dancer (2014), and On the Twentieth Century (2015), as well as the television specials Grease Live! (2016), and The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again (2016). Focusing on Long’s process, it features sketches, swatches, mood boards, and other preparatory materials in addition to the costumes themselves. Because costume design is not an area in which the Mint collects, it provides visitors with exposure to this form of art and allow for comparison of the different goals of theatrical costume and fashion.
Born in Raleigh in 1947, Long was raised in the world of the theater. His father, a technical director and professor, founded the theater program at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. His mother, an actress, taught high school theater for twenty-one years. His brother and sister also work in theater; during summers in their childhood, the entire Long family worked on the outdoor drama The Lost Colony at Manteo, North Carolina. After graduating high school in Rock Hill, Long earned a degree in history at the College of William and Mary. He then began graduate training in Renaissance art history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but later transferred to the Yale School of Drama at Yale University, where he earned an MFA in set design in 1975. Long subsequently moved to New York, where he worked as an assistant to the couturier Charles James during the last three years of his life. He has received Tony Awards for Nine (1982), Crazy for You (1992), The Producers (2001), Hairspray (2003), Grey Gardens (2006), and most recently, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (2013). In addition to Broadway productions, Long has designed costumes for hundreds of other projects, including operas, dance performances, films, television shows, and the entertainers Siegfried and Roy.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, William Ivey Long: Costume Designs 2007-2016 is a beautifully-illustrated volume examining the life and work of this renowned costume designer whose meticulous craftsmanship, historical understanding, and unique visual sensibility have made him legendary on Broadway and beyond. It tells the story of an American legend through a review of his illustrious career and an analysis of his work; copious illustrations of his sketches, fabric swatches, and costume designs; and discussion of the productions brought to life by his award-winning costumes, including Cinderella, Little Dancer, Grease Live!, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show Let’s Do the Time Warp Again.
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