Is Patrick Grant on his own Rake's Progress? The decadent, gem-bright journey he's taken E. Tautz on these last few seasons ("nearly psychedelic," said our reviewer for Spring) suggests he may be. It was hard not to think as much when he chose, you guessed it, A Rake's Progress—Hogarth's 18th-century picaresque-in-plates of a roué's London rise and fall, as well as the Stravinsky opera that it inspired—as his source material for Fall.
But all art is not autobiography, and anyway A Rake's Progress has plenty to recommend itself without personal identification. The 18th century it came out of was, Grant said after the show, the dawn of the suit as we know it—no less, he said, than the dawn of fashion. And if Tautz is one thing, it's suits. The ones here started, like the Rake himself, sober and serious enough: smart Prince of Wales checks and dark tweeds. Even oversize geometric prints of crosses and lines were eye-catching but strict. But soon enough the collection lunged toward excess. Fringed scarves fluttered from beneath jackets, unstructured "house coats" floated like boudoir robes, and the lot shone in jewel tones and floral jacquards. Grant even commissioned students at the Royal School of Needlework to appliqué flower badges and words from Auden's libretto to the opera on suit jackets and outerwear. Students, not teachers, for a naive, slightly unsteady hand: Because, Grant reminded us, "A Rake's Progress ends in Bedlam," with madness.
Not his own, one hopes. "No, no," he said with a chuckle. "But you have your moments."