Pianist Sugar Vendil founded the Nouveau Classical Project, a New York-based venture that fuses music with fashion. The group works with stylists and designers to create outfits that match the music in some way. One project, “Sweet Lost Pierrot,”fuses surrealist props, background video, and Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire.”
“I’ve always come up with really weird ways of combining fashion and music,” Vendil says. “To me, fashion is a way to express myself. It’s the one thing we have to do every day. We have to get dressed. I don’t think of fashion as something superficial. It’s another form of expression.”
Vendil has always had a penchant for fashion. She made her own clothing throughout high school and considered studying fashion design in college. Instead, Vendil opted to pursue classical piano at NYU having taken lessons since a young child. After getting her BA and MA, she decided to revive her interest in fashion. The result is The Nouveau Classical Project , a venue for exploring departures from traditional classical music standards.
Vendil favors skinny jeans, leggings, and colored shirts. The fusion of classical music and fashion has a long tradition. Franz Liszt, the conductors Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein, and Seiji Ozawa, not to mention Diaghilev and all the people involved in the Ballets Russes, all had distinctive looks and a strong fashion sense. I admire the overtness of Vendil’s desire to fuse fashion and classical music, but journalists exaggerate the switch from traditional nature classical (“all black”) to the NCP’s edginess. Classical music has a long tradition of men and women of great style. And now we have another trailblazer. Has anyone heard this group play?