Two years ago, when designer Angel Sanchez met Eloisa Maturen backstage at Carnegie Hall, where her conductor husband, Gustavo Dudamel, was performing, his first thought was, “I would love to dress her!”
Sanchez and the petite former ballerina quickly formed a designer-muse relationship in which both are inspired by their Venezuelan roots and love of bold color. For her husband’s inaugural concert with the L.A. Philharmonic as its music director this Thursday, the 29-year-old Maturen commissioned Sanchez to create a memorable dress.
“I had known about Angel, because he is one of the biggest Venezuelan designers,” she said. “I’ve worn several of his cocktail dresses, but this is the first gown.”
The gown is a true collaboration between the two of them, created during a studio session of rough sketches and lists of likes and dislikes. The result is a strapless column gown with a full A-line overlaid skirt that finishes in a small train in the back to add a splash of drama. During the fitting, as the dress pattern was draped and sewn in white muslin, the form-fitting shape was apparent.
“The dress has a little drama to it without being over the top -- she doesn’t need a lot,” Sanchez said. “The skirt is full, but Eloisa is Latin and a dancer, so she can really move that dress.” They put it to the test by dancing through Sanchez’s New York studio. “We had to make sure it worked with dancing,” Maturen said.
The vivid terra cotta color of the gown’s silk gabardine is the most striking element of the custom creation and speaks volumes about Maturen’s love for bold hues. “The first time I went to his studio, he asked me about color,” she said of her consultation with Sanchez. “I like striking colors, I barely wear black. I love wearing bright colors. It goes with my Latin blood.”
Sanchez said, “It’s a beautiful fabric, and it will look good under all of the lights and flashes.” He said he was conscious about creating a gown that eschewed trends and over-the-top design. “I wanted it to be timeless, because this occasion is like a wedding. The dress should be classic.”
While the silhouette is understated, the fiery shade of the fabric should be a head turner against Maturen’s chestnut hair and diamond and white gold cuff and earrings by Michelle Ong for Hong Kong jewelry company Carnet.
“It’s very old-fashioned-glamorous, and the color has a lot of energy,” Sanchez said. “I know Eloisa is young, but this is very important -- it’s a celebration.”