The collaboration was launched on the morning of the show, just days after the Opera House announced the Joan Sutherland Theatre would close in a week so that work could begin on its first major Renewal project, part of a larger $273 million program of upgrades to prepare the Opera House for the next generation.
“Renewal is transforming the Opera House for future generations of artists, audiences, visitors and, most immediately, for the hundreds of staff who make the magic happen on-and-off stage, 363 days a year,” said Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron AM.
The suite of uniforms will be the first in more than a decade for many of the 600 staff who will wear them, including front of house, tour guides and even the crew working backstage. Staff will work with Lee during the design process. Design and manufacturing of the collection is expected to take up to 12 months.
Lee is very aware that that design process represents a new and very different challenge. But this most disciplined of designers relishes the strictures – and restraints - that come with it.
“That is what design is about; solving the problem,” he says. “Every design brief you do, you establish parameters and you give yourself limitations within which to work.”
“Within this context, it’s working within the parameters of what would really function, what would really feel good to wear both on the body and visually. Meeting the needs of the Opera House’s very diverse workforce and making sure the clothes combine elegance and utility, inspiration and practicality is critical. It is important that a cultural icon such as the Opera House projects an image that parallels the architecture of the building.”