Split into three parts, Jackson Wiederhoeft’s Night Terror at the Opera was a pinball machine of archetypal characters, dance sequences, emotions, and avant-garde ready-to-wear pieces. As guests (which included none other than Julia Fox) took their seats in La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, performers in matching peach tones were already seated. Situated in the middle of the stage, it was difficult to tell whether the dancers were part of the performance or simply sitting front row. Distinguishing themselves as the house lights went dark, they embarked on Act I, “Night Terror” — a bold sequence combining elements of duck-duck-goose and musical chairs. The star of the show was a shimmering plum-coloured corseted dress made of silk satin and hand-embroidered glass cut beads, worn with matching opera gloves and a coin purse, but every look was a story within itself. Pieces such as opera coats and bias-cut dresses featured cherub embroidery and rose moiré, with crystal necklaces and tulle gloves to complement them.
WIEDERHOEFT SS24: NIGHT TERROR AT THE OPERA
There was so much to see at the Wiederhoeft’s Night Terror at the Opera that you couldn’t possibly catch it all. Speaking with designer Jackson Wiederhoeft after the show, it is clear that this was intentional.
Effortlessly transitioning into Act II, “Dream”, which reflected more of a classic runway style, the pieces shifted in focus to Victorian styles and poodle gowns, with bow outlines and floral motifs. Standout pieces included a hat embroidered with smoke-grey crystals and a jersey pencil dress with over-printed sequin featuring a pixelated “drape lady” print. Where “Night Terror” saw various silhouettes in similar hues, eerily synchronised routines, and somewhat creepy portrayal of childhood games, “Dream” featured utterly individualistic, alluring, and romantic looks.
“[The collection] definitely started with the narrative, with the vision of this nightmare-ish dreamland that transforms between picturesque and terrifying,” Wiederhoeft tells me after the show. “There are a lot of beautiful things in dreams and scenes change without any meaning, and in your dreams you don’t question it. One minute you’re at a wedding, walking down the aisle, the next minute you’re at a step meeting, and then you’re playing duck-duck-goose. It’s just nice to let images collide and interact and bounce off of each other.”
The final sequence was the epitome of this concept. A compilation of individual mini-stories happening on one stage, Act III felt like people watching from a cafe window, interpreting the subtext behind a couple’s argument or three friends’ deep conversation. Each living their own separate lives in the same space, Wiederhoeft’s characters exist in their own narrative, yet on common ground. Not unlike New York City, where you might cross a pop star and a newlywed couple on the same street, Night Terror at the Opera explores the spirit of such a patchwork and compilation of people, stories, and styles. It is at once beautiful and terrifying to not understand everything happening around you.
“We named all of the characters — the bride and groom, the pop star — all of these characters that have nothing to do with each other but ping-pong around. I wanted to create this feeling that you couldn’t possibly see everything, and you have to surrender to that. Surrender to the chaos,” he explains.
Scroll for BTS photography by Paige Powell…