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Balenciaga to partner with The Royal Opera House on Cobain-inspired show

By Rachel Douglass


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Image: Last Days, The Royal Opera House

London’s The Royal Opera House has announced a partnership with luxury fashion brand Balenciaga, which will see some of the label’s pieces from its autumn 2022 and winter 2022 collections featured in a new stage show.

‘Last Days’, which is based on Gus Van Sant’s 2005 film of the same name, opened in Linbury Theatre on October 7 and aims to bring a contemporary twist to opera.

Like the original film, the show is loosely based on the life of the late Kurt Cobain, the troubled frontman of popular 90s band Nirvana, who committed suicide in 1994.

The partnership marks Balenciaga’s first collaboration with an opera house, and comes as a collaboration between the brand’s artistic director Demna, stylist Patrick Welde and Matt Copson, the libretto of the show.

Eight cast members of the ensemble will sport a number of pieces that draw on Balenciaga’s typical silhouettes, including deconstructed shirting and oversized denim.

In a release, Copson said: “The opening shot of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ famously contained product placement – a close-up of Converse shoes, politely tapping along to the iconic riff.

“We knew early on that we had to move away from costuming a period and into something more paradoxical, that implicated us in the present day.

“Balenciaga was the obvious fit – Demna’s work involves the questioning and distortion of archetypes, the aesthetics of ‘alternative’ and the legacy of the 90s in a disruptive and poetic way. Each character on stage represents a different tribe and our references ranged from the specifics of Mormon backpacks to Seattle teen fashion.

“We asked ourselves – what do these forms mean to us now and how can we distort these loaded symbols into something poetic.”

Kurt Cobain
Royal Opera House