#FreeTheKnee Part 2: "You have better choices."

#FreeTheKnee Part 2: "You have better choices."

All portraits by S. Richards Photography, shot at Sing for Hope Piano Studio, 28 Liberty. Hair and makeup by Olivia McKeldin of Bombshell Studios NYC, LLC.

Opera Diva Dress Collection and Sing For Hope teamed up for a special photoshoot to promote and celebrate the passionate, fashionable, entrepreneurial, and altruistic divas that make up ODDC, and showcase the 2016 Sing For Hope Pianos as the first joint project under our cultural partnership.

For the shoot, hairstylist and makeup artist extraordinaire, Olivia McKeldin of Bombshell Studios NYC was on hand to help us enhance the natural beauty of our gorgeous volunteer opera diva models! During the day and into the evening cocktail party hosted by our cultural partner, we got to admire and say goodbye to the 2016 pianos before they head off to their new homes in schools throughout New York City, and pay homage to each of the singer's individual styles.

If you are in NYC this week, you'll see fashionistas strutting their stuff throughout this concrete jungle for New York Fashion Week. Why not take inspiration from these fearless fashionistas and bend (or do away) with some of the conventional "rules" for audition dress that have been ingrained in us since our collegiate days? We've been so moved by the personal stories of our members and the supportive nature of our not so little singing sisterhood these past few weeks. ODDC member Bryn synthesized the key points of our discussion into this powerful blog post.

Rather than recap, we decided to use our photoshoot to create a "lookbook" to serve as inspiration to empower the operatic community to make choices that serve your artistry.


Megan Brunning in Maggy London (size 4), from ODDC Collection. Piano: "Wildcats" by students of PS 48Q, placed at Riverton Charter School.

This versatile and feminine dress can brighten up the room when you're scheduled for the dreaded 10AM audition, and can be worn throughout the day, bringing an effortlessly chic look to your coaching, lesson, or first musical run-through.

Highlights of this dress

  • Vintage-inspired silhouette
  • Flattering boat neckline
  • Bright and modern floral pattern
  • Modern exposed zipper in back (not shown)
  • Hits at the knee or slightly above depending on height

Beauty features

  • Clean and simple makeup
  • Casually elevated hair in a loose barrel curl
  • Exfoliated and moisturized legs (no nylons needed)

Accessories

  • Paired with an edgy earring to show the singer’s personality
This jacket is selling for $100 on ODDC!

Other Ways to Wear it for Fall...

  • Black tights and shoes
  • Short leather jacket in black or a bright color
  • Camel colored trench
  • Add a statement necklace and a bangle with a darker lip to bring it into the evening
Amal El-Shrafi in Adrianna Papell (size 10) from ODDC Collection. Piano: "Dearly Beloved" by Eric Inkala, placed at PS 81 Thaddeus Stevens.

Sara loves this dress because it is a modern play on a vintage look in a very current print. The silhouette is universally flattering and creates clean long lines to showcase or create the illusion of a beautiful hourglass figure. For those who are looking for a dress that "checks all the boxes," this is a flattering look that can be worn any time of day or season.

Highlights of this dress

  • Statement color
  • Structured dress in thicker fabric
  • Elongating V-Neck with flattering pleated wrap detail
  • Unique geometric side pleat
  • Hits above the knee highlighting Amal's fantastic long legs (knee length on shorter divas, which will give an even more vintage inspired look)

Beauty features

  • Natural wavy curls
  • Dewy foundation
  • Subtle pink cheek and lip
  • Cat eye
  • Sculpted dark brows

Accessories

  • Statement necklace with an edgier concept to modernize look

Other Ways to Wear it for Fall…

  • Black tights and shoes
  • Black shrug or wrap
  • Swing coat that hits at the hemline
  • Updo and bolder makeup for an afternoon masterclass, recital, or party
Liana Guberman in a vintage inspired dress from her closet. Piano: "Tiny People" by Arielle Trenk, placed at New York City Children's Center.

Liana arrived to the ODDC/Sing For Hope shoot wearing this adorable dress. We didn't have to do much to style this one, as the silhouette speaks for itself. After purchasing this dress in a larger size to accommodate her bust, she had it altered to highlight her waist. In keeping with the vintage style, Liana is wearing great foundation wear to create a long smooth line.

Highlights of this dress

  • Statement colorful floral print
  • Open V-neckline and sleeve paired with flared skirt create an hourglass shape on any body type
  • Cinched waist
  • Hits below the knee for a true 1950's silhouette

Beauty features

  • Natural wavy curls (PRO-TIP: carry a small spray bottle of water in your ODDC tote to reactivate curls in humidity)
  • Eyes lined in black to make her blue eyes sparkle
  • Rosy pink blush and lip
  • Perfectly styled brows

Accessories

  • None needed for this effortless daytime look

Other Ways to Wear it for Fall…

  • Red, pink or green heel
  • Leopard print heel
  • Long or short string of pearls to bring it into evening
  • Short waisted angora sweater to give a nod to the 50's
  • Back seam stocking…oh la la!
Amal El-Shrafi in Betsey Johnson mid-length from her closet. Piano: "Music Machine #1" by Adam Kidder, placed at James Madison High School.

We both flipped when we saw Amal in this dress! As many of you know, Suzanne is a little bit obsessed with all things Betsey Johnson. This dress projects confidence, style, and effortless grace, and can be worn in any audition venue from day to night.

Highlights of this dress

  • Fun abstract pattern in vivid colors
  • Boat neckline
  • Flattering longline waist (great if you have a long torso)
  • Midi length (flattering on tall statuesque divas to highlight legs that go on for days)

Beauty features

  • Side swoop hairstyle with loose waves and faux side bang
  • Bright pink lipstick
  • Bronze contoured cheek
  • Cat eye with natural nude eyeshadow

Accessories

  • Neon stud earring in a color not featured in the dress
  • Custom Swarovski heels made by ODDC members Cherisse and Cherissia Williams (you can give them any pair of comfortable shoes and they'll use their special twin diva powers to make them sparkle! Email them to get yours.)
Shoes by Cherisse:Cherissia Shoes. Photo by Urban Whimsy Photography.

Other Ways to Wear it for Fall…

  • Ankle-length coat
  • Structured cross-body purse in any color
  • Pump in any color
  • Pointed toe flats
  • Black knit wrap for an evening out
Sharin Apostolou in Stop Staring (Size Medium) from ODDC Collection. Piano: "What's in a Name" by Melanie Schantz, placed at IS 93 Ridgewood.

Sara loves Stop Staring for their comfortably constructed, seductively flattering, vintage inspired looks. When Sharin walked in, we knew we had just the dress for her. This dress is perfect for any femme fatale from Carmen, to Zerlina, to Musetta, and all the sassy ladies of opera in between. Suzanne jokes about this being the sort of dress that makes it easy for anyone behind the casting table with no imagination, to imagine you onstage in the role when you nail your aria!

Highlights of this dress

  • Red! Polka dots!
  • Curve hugging with flared midi-length skirt
  • Shape of the shoulders and the slight cap sleeve create an hourglass shape
  • Pleating on the bust hugs all the right places and is flattering on women of all sizes
  • Cinched high waist

Beauty features

  • Dark blush cheek
  • Corresponding red lip
  • High arched brow
  • Natural "cat eye" liner

Accessories

  • Long playful black earrings modernize the look
  • Black tights with a great black pointed toe pump

Other Ways to Wear it for Fall…

  • Bare legs (make sure to exfoliate and moisturize! Check out ODDC member Jasmina Halimic's website for healthy handmade beauty products that will keep your skin soft and moisturized all year long.)
  • Pearl or diamond stud earrings
  • Nude peep toe heel or pump
  • Back seam stocking (or thigh high if you hate tights)
Jenna Siladie, "A Soprano in Pants" in a jumpsuit from her closet. Piano: "Nathan Sykes" by Nathan Sykes, placed at Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics.

"Jumpsuit : 2016 Feminist :: Power Blazer : Moving and Shaking Women of the 1980s."(Sidebar: SAT has since removed verbal analogies…we are old).

Suzanne is one of the ‘OG' supporters of this look, having worn a similar pants look for the past three seasons for both US and European auditions in fall, winter and spring! They are easy to pack and can be accessorized to look like many outfits!

Highlights of this dress jumpsuit

  • Feminine color
  • Perfectly tailored look from head to toe
  • Elongating deep-V
  • Wide leg pants
  • Pleated details in waistline
  • Structured sleeveless bodice
  • Exposed zipper
  • Cinched waist to give feminine look

Beauty features

  • Dark plum colored lip
  • Dewy foundation
  • Contour and highlights
  • Simple eye makeup and full natural brow
  • Slicked back hair into a pony-tail with braided detail
  • Barrel curled pony-tail to add volume and femininity

Accessories

  • Long statement necklace
  • Leather bracelet
  • Black suede pump with lace-up detail
Earrings by Tracy Cox, Neon Beautiful Design.

Other Ways to Wear it for Fall…

  • Statement earring (No necklace)
  • Custom fringe earrings (above) handmade by soprano Tracy Cox's NBD (Neon Beautiful Design), which you can order through her instagram
  • Studded heels
  • Patterned heels
  • Hair in undo for a daytime recital
  • Evening jewels for a more formal concert or event
  • Tights, thermals, spandex…'all the things' underneath for cold weather
Elizabeth Westerman Yoder, "A Soprano in Pants" in a vintage Betsey Johnson (size 6) jacket from ODDC Collection available for rental, and textured pants from her closet. Piano: "Jackie O" by Tina Flaherty, placed at High School of Arts and Technology.

We love this look for its effortless mix of operatic glamour and modern style. This new mommy diva came to Suzanne to rent a dress, and left with this fabulous jacket for an upcoming concert. She paired it with a textured pant and open-toe red pumps to make the outfit really pop. This look would not only work for an audition, but would be perfect for a daytime recital of some newer, edgier works.

Highlights of this dress outfit

  • Statement jacket with dramatic collar and rhinestone buttons
  • Cinched waist to give feminine look
  • Pleather cropped pant

Beauty features

  • Natural pink lip
  • Dewy foundation
  • Natural cat eye
  • Perfectly arched brow
  • Modern asymmetrical bob

Accessories

  • Large jeweled statement earrings
  • Red open toe pump

Other Ways to Wear it for Fall…

  • Statement necklace paired with small stud earrings
  • Pointed toe heel in any color
  • Patterned heels
  • Pencil skirt
  • Jacket over a form fitting dress
  • Colorful embroidered cropped pants

We really thank you all for getting behind #FreeTheKnee and hope that we've converted others with this post. As you can see, we aren't saying anything radical or telling you to dress like you are going out to the club, we are simply encouraging you to dress for your own unique body and style.

After the Sing For Hope cocktail party, our friend and ODDC enthusiast (AKA Sharin's husband Ryan MacPherson) put it perfectly when we were talking about some of the recent threads on ODDC. We all agreed that there is never anything wrong with our bodies, but certain outfits are just better than others when it comes to dressing our unique selves. To quote a very wise husband, "You look amazing, but I think you have better choices!"

With Vibrato, Legato and Love

Suzanne Vinnik-Richards & Sara Duchovnay

Visit the Schmopera store

Written by

Suzanne Vinnik

Suzanne Vinnik

Soprano, Suzanne Vinnik has appeared with some of the leading regional opera houses and international concert stages throughout her career and has been praised by the New York Times as a "voice notable for its dramatic nuance" and described by Opera News as "Refreshing...[With] beautifully molded, vividly communicative phrasing."

In addition to singing, she is the founder of the popular Opera Diva Dress Collection (a network marketplace of over 6,200 female opera singers) and photographer.

Sara Duchovnay

Sara Duchovnay

Praised by Opera News for "the agility with which she negotiated her beautiful upper register", soprano Sara Duchovnay continues to garner critical acclaim for her performances across the country.

Sara recently appeared as Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire with Opera San Jose, as Zerlina in Don Giovanni with Opera Santa Barbara, as Della in David Conte’s The Gift of the Magi with Hidden Valley Opera Ensemble, and as Rosina in Paisiello’s Il barbiere di Siviglia with West Edge Opera.

Related Content

The Scene

Comments

Unlike other sites, we're keeping Schmopera ad-free. We want to keep our site clean and our opinions our own. Support us for as little as $1.00 per month.