Opera Carolina is a non-profit opera company headquartered in Charlotte, NC. In 2015, Opera Carolina created an environmentally friendly alternative to high fashion, Opera Recycles. Earlier this year, they had their own show in New York Fashion Couture Week. I was invited to cover the show, but wasn't able to attend. Maybe next year? However, I was able to interview founder Megan Miller about this initiative.
In the two years since the initiative launched, more than 10,500 pieces of marketing material has been converted into fashion pieces.
Designers for the Opera Recycles initiative include both local and non-local artists. Keeping local artists engaged is an important part of the Opera Recycles initiative as it provides cross-promotional opportunities for both the designers as well as Opera Carolina.
Opera Recycles initiative generates excitement for the upcoming Opera season as well as creative solutions to environmental problems. Last year, Opera Recycles participated in New York Fashion Week, featuring its dress designed by Garbage Gone Glam. This year, Opera Recycles was invited back to New York Fashion Week to produce its very own fashion show during Couture Week to feature its whole collection.
As well as New York Fashion Week, Opera Recycles partnered again with local fashion organization, Charlotte Seen and featured its dresses for 2017/18 at the Charlotte Fashion Week in September.
1. Why did you create Opera Recycles?
I wanted to bring Opera outside of the theater and to our community. I also felt that there was a more creative way to present opera to the public than the traditional market positioning that our industry creates. I figured that there was no better way to market art than through art. Thus, Opera Recycles was born. The Opera industry as a whole produces lots of print materials and playbills so at the end of every season we are faced with the reality that is waste. And lots of it! After looking through 1,000's of old marketing materials and paper collateral I thought it was time to take care of this mess (literally) and instead of throwing out all the old materials, I reached out to a recyclable designer and pitched her my idea.
Opera Recycles, an innovative and strategic initiative, fosters interest and awareness in Opera Carolina as a cultural Charlotte institution and encourage creative and out-of-the-box thinking in regards to environmental problems facing organizations today.
2. What was the inspiration behind the collection?
Honestly, I have been a sustainability advocate on recycling and waste management since high school and the thought of wasting beautiful marketing pieces was not an option. Our creative team works very diligently to produce high quality and color pieces each season to best represent our operas and I thought it would be such a shame to just chuck them out like we do printer paper. Through this initiative Opera Carolina demonstrates its commitment to environmental consciousness and creative thinking. This concept embodies how I market and present products to the public. It's creative, out-of-the-box and FUN!
3. Which piece is your favorite?
How can you choose?!! I love them all!
4. What are some of the challenges you've encountered during this process and how did you overcome them?
Getting into the recyclable fashions industry came with many challenges. We are working with paper, here. I think the largest challenge that I encountered was producing our show for New York Fashion Week and making sure that I wasn't just producing a fashion show but an Opera Experience. I wanted people to experience opera (maybe for the very first time, maybe not).
From the Hair & Make-up provided by master Artisans, War Paint Intermission, to the "HipHopera" styled runway music, to the dresses, to the Opera Performance at intermission, we created a movement for arts & sustainability that afternoon in NYC.
I had people coming up to me all night asking about Opera and wanting to LEARN more. I actually teared up one time when I was told that my vision and creation was successful and that I was a positive light on an often darkened industry of arts and sustainability.
I encourage creative and out-of-the-box thinking in regards to environmental problems facing organizations today and Opera Recycles is the perfect example of that. We are already on to the next project!
On their website, you can find out more about the talented designers and artists that work with them to make everything happen.
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All photos from Opera Recycles website.
Interview by Glodeane Brown