This black corset and pink ruffled skirt were designed by Donna Langman and worn by Denyce Graves as the lead in the Washington National Opera's production of Carmen during the 1993-1994 season. The corset (a) is made from black silk satin and is sleeveless and strapless. A loop of black woven cotton tape is sewn at the top of both sides with black beaded decoration covering the tape and black beaded fringe hanging below it. These beaded pieces are worn draped across the upper arm, not over the shoulder. The corset closes at the center back with a black metal zipper and one (1) hook-and-eye at the top of the zipper. The interior of the corset is lined with a black silk and cotton floral brocade. The seams are pressed open and serged along the raw edges. Flexible boning covered in black ribbon with a woven floral design is hand sewn to the interior to provide stiff shaping. There are sixteen (16) long pieces of boning around the corset and two (2) shorter pieces of boning sewn one at each front side where the arm meets the chest. A cream fabric label is sewn at the interior proper left back with embroidered and handwritten black text reading "Donna Langman / Denyce Graves [handwritten] / new york". Hanger loops made from the black floral ribbon are sewn at each interior side.
The skirt (b) has tiers of pink iridescent silk taffeta ruffles cascading down the front. A single pink taffeta ruffle runs around the entire bottom of the skirt, which is longer in the back with a slight train. The waist and the back of the skirt are faced in a fuchsia synthetic satin fabric. This fabric is covered on the skirt by a black velvet overlay that wraps around the sides and ends in a v at the center front waist. The velvet is sewn to the skirt around the waist and is tacked around the length of the skirt where the fuchsia fabric meets the pink taffeta ruffle. A length of black lace is sewn around the top edge of the velvet overlay, which resembles a long scarf or shawl wrapped around the waist of a Spanish flamenco style skirt. The skirt closes at the center back using a pink plastic zipper with one (1) metal snap and one (1) metal hook-and-eye. An additional black metal invisible zipper is sewn at the center back of the black velvet overlay, covering the pink metal zipper when closed. Buckram is sewn inside the waistband and the hem of the skirt. The skirt is not lined. Two (2) hanger loops made from pink synthetic fabric are sewn one at each interior side waist.
Full color photograph of American mezzo-soprano opera singer, Denyce Graves, wearing a pink and black satin flamenco-style designed by Donna Langman for Act IV in the Washington National Opera's production of "Carmen". This candid photograph of Graves in costume appears to have been taken while backstage.
silk satin, silk faille, cotton, synthetic fiber, synthetic and metallic lace, and metal fasteners
H x W: 69 x 31 in. (175.3 x 78.7 cm)
mid 20th century; altered 2009
This pale bronze gown was designed by Barbara Karinska and worn by Marion Anderson, then later altered and worn by Denyce Graves. The gown is made from slubbed silk satin and has a fitted sleeveless bodice with a natural waistline and a full skirt with a slight train. Portions of a cream and metallic gold floral lace are cut and sewn to the bodice around the scoop neckline, along the shoulder straps, and around the waist side seams. The gown closes at the center back with a metal zipper that extends below the waist and one (1) metal hook-and-eye at the top of the zipper.
The bodice of the dress is lined with an undyed cotton. The interior neckline and shoulder straps are lined with a light brown synthetic fabric, likely an alteration for Graves. The skirt is fully lined in a cream silk faille. A cream fabric label with black woven and handwritten text is sewn at the interior center front waist that reads "KARINSKA / 112 WEST 44TH ST. NEW YORK / Name_______ / Act [handwritten] ANDERSON / Scene_________".