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Although the Maîtrise Populaire is one of the Opéra Comique’s central means of transmission of practices, its Costume design and Wig design studios also illustrate the greatness of the opera house’s trademark and expertise.
The Opéra Comique is one of the rare French opera houses which still has a costume design and a wig design studio. Located right at the heart of the Opéra Comique on the upper floor, the 3 levels host the costume design studio, which notably nurtures technical expertise in vintage and contemporary cut and sewing, as well as in the crafting of hats, accessories, dyes, patinas and textile finishings. They also house the wig design studio’s incredible skills and know-how, which range from fingerprinting to hair implantation, as well as hair colouring and styling. The studios are very much aware of the current economic and environmental challenges. Creative artists are primarily encouraged to use natural dyes and costumes are adapted to new creations, whenever possible.
In 2012, the Opéra Comique developed a natural dye workshop, gradually phasing out chemical dyes and preferring plant or animal-derived pigments (eg. madder or cochineal pigments).
The elaboration of concentrated plant extracts enables the development of new natural dying techniques and practices. Far form being outdated, the use of these pigments greatly contributes to the creative process and enriches exchanges between costume designers and costume directors since the colour palette is richer and deeper than that obtained with chemical dyes.
Such practices are part of the Opéra Comique’ sustainable development plan. Indeed, natural dyes are reusable, as well as user-friendly and environment-friendly. Wastewater can be disregarded without risk of polluting.
The Opéra Comique’s natural dye workshop constitutes a new opportunity to promote the expertise of the opera house’s craftsmen while boosting the artists’ creativity and the costumes’ originality.
As part of the exhibition "L'Opéra Comique et ses trésors" at the National Center for Stage Costumes (CNCS) in Moulins in 2015, a report on the Central Costumes was produced by the Opéra Comique for its tercentenary with the support from the Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès.