Fashion Icons in the Classical Music World

Classical music and fashion don’t seem like a pair that goes together. Opera performers and music conductors are usually associated with their well-pressed suits or tuxedos in most areas of the classical music industry.

There are some classical music icons that stuck out not just for their talents but for their style. They bring attention to things like color, boldness, and just plain “wow” in their fashion choices. What they wear represents themselves, speaking a language to others that coexists with their musicianship.

So, who are these classical music icons? Here are some of the stand-out fashion icons in the classical music world and how they inspire some fashion movements while in the midst of a successful musical career.

Classical Music Fashion Icons

Dalia Stasevska

Dalia Stasevska

Dalia Stasevska © Veikko Kähkönen

Born in Ukraine and settled in Finland, Dalia Stasevska is such a classical music icon for always looking good on stage. Her style consists mainly of oversized, flowy kimonos with colorful, stand-out prints.

Stasevska herself has stated she likes having the platform of her music career to feel free in her expression. No formality in classical music says you have to wear something in particular. She credits her fashion sense to a Finnish designer friend who helps her to feel comfortable and look great.

Julia Wolfe “Fountain of Youth” / Detroit Symphony Orchestra / Dalia Stasevska, conductor

Anne-Sophie Mutter

Anne-Sophie Mutter

Anne-Sophie Mutter © boston globe

German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter has been fashionable and eye-catching since she broke into the classical music scene from the time she was a teenager. Her endless fashionwear of off-the-shoulder, floor-length gowns has raised eyebrows, but she dismisses it. She feels her style is more like a uniform since her dresses are similar in style but vary in color.

Now that she’s older, the style hasn’t changed; she still displays many elegant gowns with simple patterns. It’s contemplative that having a style without neck or shoulder fabric makes it far easier to play, as well as being more comfortable.

Anne-Sophie Mutter: Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto

Cameron Carpenter

Cameron Carpenter

Cameron Carpenter © stanford live

What is style and music without flair, sparkles, and a bit of showmanship? Cameron Carpenter is a masterful classical musician on the organ but does so with a keen eye for fashion. He often adorns bright, vivid colors, sequins, and, yes – even a fashionable hairstyle when on stage.

His style has been seen as more unusual in the classical world, but he creates such a stage presence and has risen in popularity. His dress and unique clothing apparel have attracted designers and boutique owners who want to partner.

He attributes his style as a reflection of himself and that his initial attraction to playing classical music on the organ was a visual representation. He saw a picture in an encyclopedia of a person playing an organ who was well-dressed, and he viewed it as glamorous. So it’s safe to say that his outward appearance would reflect his love for the instrument!

Cameron Carpenter, Organ Revolutionary – TELARC

Yuja Wang

Yuja Wang

Yuja Wang © the Art’s Desk

Another icon that has inspired movements attributed to that “naked influence” with her tiny mini dresses is classical Chinese pianist Yuja Wang. Like Stasevska, she wants to be comfortable while she performs and has no problem showcasing it with her fashion choices.

She performed in 2011 for the Hollywood Bowl and was quoted by musical critic Mark Swed as “…it was Yuja Wang’s orange dress for which…. [she] is likely to be remembered.” The dress was short and tight and was paired with 4-inch heels.

Her bold choice later made her a target for those who might have considered it more on the risque side. It has gained her a reputation in the classical music world.

Wang herself has dismissed those opposed to her fashion sense. She has become famous for her style, and in her own words, describes it as “modern and edgy” but also pairs it with the word practical because, when traveling, who has time to iron?

She’s inspiring many young up-and-coming classical musicians who want to showcase their beauty. She puts an emphasis on the fact that she’s young and likes to experiment with her comfort while performing. She is quoted saying, “I can dress in long skirts when I am forty.” The short, clingy dresses draw more attention to her petite frame and trim body, making a bolder statement when she attacks the piano with big sounds and energy.

7 Dynamic YUJA WANG Finales

Lang Lang

Lang Lang

Lang Lang © langlangofficial

Another pianist icon from China, Lang Lang didn’t draw attention from his clothes exactly, but he gained a massive amount of admiration for his choice of footwear. Young people adore the fun that he finds in classical music, which is showcased by his sneaker choice.

It made such an impact that he became a spokesperson in a shoe deal with Adidas to create a style specifically in his name. He’s inspired millions of children to learn classical music and play the piano because his style and talent have brought life into the art, along with his shoes. His influence has been dubbed “The Lang Lang Effect” due to his megastardom.

The Fastest PIANO Forever by LANG LANG, The Most Professional Pianist in the World

Fashion in Classical Venues

Fashion when attending classical music events has also evolved. In the 1700s and 1800s, wearing your best and most expensive dresses and clothing was necessary. Nowadays, you can get away with going to a classical performance in just a pair of nice jeans and a button-up shirt. While it doesn’t scream sophistication, times have certainly changed and become less strict with their fashion dress codes.

The change in fashion also goes for the performers in classical venues, which hasn’t evolved too much. Back in the 18th century, an orchestra or ensemble was required to perform in uniform, usually a black-tie tuxedo. Black and white dresses have been considered the classic and intelligent choice for performing.

Playing in an orchestra is a group effort, and that black or black-and-white style continues for the performers to this day in an attempt to showcase the group effort. The team of musicians plays classical masterpieces, working in harmony toward the same goal. Starting with effortless guitar songs to learn or violin pieces and piano melodies, and eventually – going forth to put on an incredibly moving and fantastic performance.

In today’s classical music, prestigious events such as opera galas can work to set fashion trends. The Met Gala for Arts, which includes the Metropolitan Opera, is considered one of the world’s most prestigious fashion events.

The red carpet is drawn out, and fashion and style are at the forefront, with multiple news anchors and celebrity followers commenting on the evening. Some famous icons tend to go very bold for this event and wear outrageous and eye-catching dresses, tops, and bottoms to catch the eyes of many admirers.

Here’s a look at 2023’s Met Gala fashion:

Glitz, glamour, and many paths of fashion style are presented. It’s easy to see how there can be an artistic collaboration between classical music and fashion.

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Donna Elise Maurer is a multifaceted artist and educator with a devotion to music and an insatiable curiosity for the arts. Music has been Donna’s lifelong companion, and her expertise spans both piano and guitar. With a career spanning five enriching years in various music schools across New York, Donna has been a guiding light for budding musicians. Her teaching philosophy extends beyond the technicalities, instilling a deep understanding of music theory and a genuine appreciation for the art form itself.

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