Fashion / Shopping

Opera in the Bag — Fashion Designer David Peck and Houston Grand Opera Team Up to Create Special Purses

When Arts Inspire Fashion

BY // 09.27.19

Before launching his fashion design career, David Peck’s first creative muse was music. A classical cellist, Peck’s love of music was only eclipsed by his passion for fashion. Now, his two pursuits have harmoniously come together in a collection of custom bags inspired by Houston Grand Opera’s 2019-2020 season.

The year-long collaboration is a natural evolution between Peck and HGO. He quickly became involved with the organization when he opened his atelier, and over the years, has designed gowns for multiple Opera Ball chairs and the Concert of Arias.

“It’s always been in the ether. We wanted to do something that would be fun and tell the stories in a different way,” Peck tells PaperCity. “Whether you’re carrying them or giving them as a gift, it feels organic and meaningful.”

Peck went behind the velvet curtain for a sneak peek of costumes for the performances, coming away with an aria of sorts for each opera. He considered the essence of story, libretto and score, resulting in eight different bags, each a tangible representation of the season.

HGO’s season starts with Verdi’s Rigoletto, Oct. 18 and Peck riffed off the court jester with his lucite bag accented with  geometric shapes and primary colors, and yes, an abstract version of clowns.

For Handel’s Saul, Peck crafted a clear acrylic clutch with paper floral inserts, adding muted pastels for a bag that feels more in line with France’s Queen Marie Antionette than King Saul. Peck says he was inspired by Barrie Kosky’s imaginative production and breathtaking design, and the bright colors, floral displays and over-the-top costumes and textures.

The holidays usher in the world premiere and prequel to the mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, El Milagro del Recuerdo/The Miracle of Remembering and Peck’s interpretation of the opera is colorful and joyful, intentionally honoring traditional Mexican culture dating back to pre-Hispanic times. The embroidered clutches were made from small rugs sourced from Mexico, adding an extra layer of authenticity to the design. 

For the HGO premiere of Donizetti’s La Favorite, Peck wanted something that both very dramatic, but simple. Considering the opera’s tag line is, “Secret love bound by silence,” the clear acrylic clutch with the crystal heart achieves Peck’s desire for a gothic feel.

Verdi’s Aida is set in ancient Egypt and so is the look and feel of the bag. Scarabs represent good luck and sarcophagi represent divine protection, so Peck adorned the bag with both.

More is more when it comes to the lavish peacock clutch Peck designed for Strauss’s Salome. A fan of Aubrey Beardsley and his work, it was an 1893 illustration, “The Peacock Skirt” that crystallized Peck’s vision. The woodblock print of the illustration washed in the first English edition of Oscar Wilde’s one-act play Salome in 1894, giving Peck the ultimate full-circle design moment.

Mozart’s The Magic Flute is always a crowd-pleaser and Peck was so taken by the famous opera, that he designed not one, but two bags, because after all, the Queen of the Night deserves her own clutch.

The midnight velvet Queen of the Night clutch is adorned with crystals and a gem-studded spider surrounded by feathery whisps. It’s playful and dramatic, which was exactly the point.

David Peck HGO Bag Collection
David Peck designed two bags for The Magic Flute, starting with this midnight blue clutch.

“In this version of “The Magic Flute” the Queen of the Night is represented as a large spider; something I wanted to incorporate in our design as a fun element,” Peck says. The other Magic Flute bag offers a classic take on an evening bag, but it still makes a statement with layers upon layers of beaded gold trim.

Each bag is handmade, signed by Peck, fits an iPhone X and features adjustable and removable straps. Peck is donating 20 percent of bag sales to HGO education programs and services. All of the bags are $295, with the exception of the golden beaded Magic Flute version. In addition to the bag series, Peck is also collaborating with HGO on a candle for the holiday season.

And what’s on in the background while Peck is making these bags? Probably La Boheme or Tosca.

“I like Puccini. My favorites are easily hummable operas,” Peck says.

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