I give a strong visual style to a production through costume. Even my lectures on the history of manners strongly emphasize the importance of sartorial considerations. I am a costume designer/cultural historian with an interest in the entire creative process of a production.
My “look” for ballet, opera and theatre is colorful, well researched, elegant and as one reviewer said “chic.” I have had two nominations for the New York City Dance Awards widely known as the “Bessies” for Outstanding Visual Design in 2011 and 2014.
My work tends to be with smallish companies where strongly visual sets and costumes of quality are beyond the budget. I opt for quality costumes to carry the visual message. I have and will fund raise for this effort.
Much of my costume work is influenced by dress in the courts of 17th and 18th centuries in France but I seek fresh interpretations rather than historical representations. “Dressing for the Dance”, my hour long theatre piece, gives an intimate view of life in the uppermost echelons of an intimidating and structured society. Romantic and modern work interest me as well.
My lectures look at such manifestations of civilité (etiquette) as dress and dance taking into account political, economic and social factors which created and controlled society on every level.
My audiences are discerning and of all ages from teens to the elderly; from gifted performing arts high students to university arts and dance students to adults and retirees seeking to enlarge their cultural arts knowledge.
“Dressing for the Dance” the lecture opened Brooklyn Ballet’s 10th Anniversary Season in 2011. “Dressing for the Dance” the theatre piece was performed at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, the Grolier Club in 2014 and in 2015 a segment was performed with Aston Magna to enthusiastic response: “what a superb idea you had to ‘translate’ for us the intricacies of Louis XIV’s court. It was a feast for the eyes and the mind.”
Most recently, I designed costumes for a production of Opera Lafayette’s “Une Éducation Manquée by Chabrier in NYC at The French Institute/Alliance Française and in Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center in February 2016. I shall be working with OL again on their Spring 2017 production of “Les indes galantes”.
Launched by Young & Rubicam as a stylist/costume designer, and working with such prominent and active production companies at the time as Horn/Griner and Bob Giraldi, I learned about the whole production process.
I hold an M. A. in French Language and Civilization from New York University and a B. A. in Studio Art (Newton College) Boston College.
You may view more of Patricia’s costume sketches and finished designs at http://flickr.com/gp/patriciaforelle/07J62A/ and a short trailer for her Dressing for the Dance lecture is available on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/32388185.
Painting, drawing and design were part of my growing up along with years of study of classical ballet and piano! I never wanted to be an artist…maybe an architect, 3 dimensional design was a favorite course or a professor of Italian renaissance art, the richness of the pictures spoke to me!! But I needed a job. Was all this the perfect introduction to Madison Avenue?
The Creative Department at Young & Rubicam headed by Tony Isadore was a tour de force. I was the young recruit watching in amazement as Tony with Bob Elgort (copy) and Marvin Lefkowitz (art) teased ideas from each other. The repartee was so quick. I was smittened. I wanted to play a part. Tony was my mentor and he introduced me to David Renning, creative director and head of the Styling Department. I was able to put my figure drawing to good use. In those days much of what Y&R produced was done in house. Budgets were generous allowing maximum creativity. Commercial though it was, we did some beautiful work.
Of course, such a creative paradise could not last forever. The in house work closed but I was hired back by the producers who worked for the agency. I missed the camaraderie of Y&R but I certainly got work and business experience.
I did a lot of television location work. I learned about sets, budgets and unions (one of which I was a member- United Scenic Artists, local 829!) It was impossible to do quality work without this credential. I designed a “Faust” which I submitted to the jury!!
I became ex-urban which made it hard to continue my television work and I found equally rewarding interior design projects which took me to Europe, southern USA and NYC.
Back in New York, I pursued my interest in French culture, its customs, costume and dance. Thinking back to my semester in Paris during my junior year at Newton, I realized its impact was still part of me. I commenced graduate studies in French and it is that event which led me back into costume design!
My research into the particular personality of French culture in the 17th and 18th centuries and the implications, political, economic and social of its manifestation focused my attention on material culture in a broader context than the record of what people wore. What we learn from what people wore and why adds significantly to our understanding of cultural history. Fertile ground for my interest in dance, music and fashion!
France played a major role in western civilization. Louis XIV, the absolute monarch, the warrior, was an excellent and passionate dancer and a natural musician. Looking through the lens of material culture, I look at social customs that mandated what people wore and how they behaved and the extent to which etiquette and appearances were tools for economic and social success for the nobles and the rich merchants of France, I became fascinated by the sartorial splendor and the theatrical ceremonies of they period. From the confection of clothes of sumptuous textiles with elaborate detail to the rituals of simply getting dressed, Iam inspired to create costumes that show elegance and beauty of line no matter what period.
Costume design is my primary passion, but given my very narrow focus and my cultural research this naturally led to lecturing on costume in it’s social, political and economic framework. Talking to talented art and dance students or francophiles/francophones, is for me a broadening experience.
Drawing is an essential tool for me in design work. I thank Opera Lafayette for their interest in my costume sketches. I am now using my painting and drawing skills simply for the pleasure of doing so. Along the way, I’ve sold some small works and I am working now on more elaborate compositions than figures and conjuring up some fantasy in my work as well.