As the curtains of the Athenaeum Theatre parted, the stage and arena was filled with the hauntingly melancholic music of the aria, La Mamma Morta, from Giordano’s opera, Andrea Chenier. From within emerged leading Australian soprano, Antoinette Halloran, swathed in yards of black and white silk tulle, her torso clinched in a figure enhancing corset covered in millions of crystals. As her voice carried through the great hall, Halloran looked like a goddess descended from the night skies.
We the audience, a curation of the denizens of the world of fashion, art, media, philanthropy, business and in particular the powers that be of VAMFF, sat transfixed and spell-bound. Linda Britten, renowned and highly regarded couturier, had again successfully started to take us on a great Odyssey.
Legato, Britten’s magical fusion of fashion and performing arts was ear-marked to be one of the hallmark events of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival’s Cultural program, and we were not to be disappointed.
Yet more sopranos, in Britten’s signature corseted and full-skirted gowns, serenaded us with more operatic favourites, the Bacarolle from the Tales of Hoffman and the ever popular Habanera from Carmen before a cacophony of talented young danseurs and danseuses from The Australian Ballet School blazed the stage in a dramatic and highly stylised dance segment, superbly choreographed by the institution’s resident choreographer, Leigh Rowles.
This was where the genii of Britten was truly expounded. Britten had created a collection in, shades of gold, metallic and black, to be shown off by the performers, that looked modern yet quietly grand and bore the couturier’s signatures of great craftsmanship, excellent fabrication and most importantly a complete understanding of a woman’s figure.
Simple silhouettes lay a backdrop to the amazing fabrics; lush velvets, rich silks, sumptuous brocades and gossamer like lace all enticing to us, the viewer. A long coat in gold and black Art Deco inspired brocade particularly drew gasps from the audience.
As the performance crescendoed to a grand finale and great lady, Linda Britten, took her bow, her appreciating band of loyal followers and fans had all agreed. We had all indeed been taken on a magical journey, the Odyssey of Linda Britten’s Legato.