For the first time in six years, the Washington National Opera is opening its costume closet to shoppers. On October 3 and 4, at the company’s rehearsal studio in Takoma, more than 1,000 items, worn in productions of Manon Lescaut, Macbeth, Carmen, Cinderella, and more, will be available for sale. Costume staff will be on deck, offering styling tips to shoppers interested in the company’s many gowns, hats, shoes, and masks.
Most prices range from $50 to $200, with some pieces selling for as little as a buck. Pinning down how much these items cost the company proves difficult, since they’re handmade and require tailoring to each performer. But according to costume director Marsha LeBoeuf, shoppers are definitely getting a bargain. “I know the work that goes into making these costumes,” she says. “The work is really exquisite.”
Washington National Opera rents used costumes to other companies. Eventually, though, they become unusuable. When they’ve been hanging in storage for too long or are showing their wear, it’s time to find them a new home. “We have a hard time, especially me, parting with them,” she says.
This is the fourth time the company has held a costume sale. Stand-outs include 16 identical Cinderella footmen outfits, $1 hand-painted masks, and ornate Chinese aristocrat robes from a production of Turandot. A few children’s costumes will be available, as well.
The company’s sales have had lines out the door in the past, so it’s best to arrive early; only 40 shoppers will be allowed in the room at once.
The WNO’s costume sale takes place on October 3 and 4, from 10 AM to 5 PM at its opera studio in Takoma (6925 Willow St., NW).