© Genica Athanasiou wearing Gabrielle Chanel's costume for ANTIGONE by Jean Cocteau in 1922 - photo by Man Ray
Choosing an outfit always means deciding what character to play, just like an actor dresses in character for a role on stage. The analogy extends to conjuring up new looks in sketches and drawings. It was thus hardly surprising that in the early 1920s, Jean Cocteau should turn to Gabrielle Chanel, the woman he held to be "the finest dressmaker of the day". He asked her to design costumes for three tragedies, Antigone, Orpheus, and Oedipus Rex, based on rough sketches. Harking back to Greek mythology offered a way to breathe fresh relevance into universal themes such as war, marriage, the power of language, and metamorphosis. Alongside the actors, Cocteau worked with avant-garde artists, with Picasso providing set designs and Honegger the music for Antigone.