Before Lang Lang leaves his Carnegie Hall dressing room for the stage tomorrow night, three things will be as close to perfect as humanly possible: his memorization of the music, the tuning of the piano and the cut of his jacket.
Tomorrow’s concert and dinner for his Lang Lang International Music Foundation are expected to raise about $1 million. (The concert has been rescheduled because of hurricane Sandy to June 3.) Hosted by actor Alec Baldwin, the evening will feature Lang Lang performing with violinist Joshua Bell, jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, Danish singer-songwriter Oh Land and a group of musicians who have received scholarships from the foundation, which mentors young pianists.
One of the world’s top classical pianists, Lang Lang is particular about his wardrobe. This season, he turned to Toronto-based designer Rosemarie Umetsu, who specializes in dressing actors, singers and maestros.
We spoke about clothes at the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston following his performance with the city’s orchestra.
Cole: When you walked on stage last night in that shiny black suit, you looked like a character from “The Matrix.” What’s it made of?
Lang Lang: Rosemarie Umetsu made it for me, I’m not sure what the material is but it’s very, very light. She’s making a suit for the Carnegie Hall concert, a dark blue one, I think.
Cole: And the shoes with the interesting pattern?
Lang Lang: Those were made by Giorgio Armani. Giorgio also gave me 40 outfits, so I’m pretty set for at least the next two years. I was so happy! He makes clothes that are most beautiful and of the foremost quality. The most comfortable shoes are Ferragamo.
Cole: How many pairs of shoes do you have?
Lang Lang: More than 100. More than half are Armanis. My father and I have the same shoe size so he wears mine, and some of them have become his.
Cole: The watch with all the moving parts is by Montblanc?
Lang Lang: Yes, it’s a limited-edition Nicolas Rieussec, named after the creator of the chronograph. What I like about watches is the movement, and it has a very complicated movement. A watch like this is like a work of art.
(The pianist is a cultural ambassador for Montblanc. A company representative said the model he wears retails for $36,200.)
Cole: You like to dress casually but smart when you’re not onstage.
Lang Lang: I’m a big fan of jackets. This is a Spencer Hart sport coat, custom made. I like a tight fit around the shoulders. I always have a casual jacket.
Cole: And the jeans?
Lang Lang: Jeans are the best for traveling. I like Armani. This Diesel pair I’m wearing now has a cool design. Look at the detail! They fit so perfectly.
The Benefit Concert for the Lang Lang International Music Foundation has been rescheduled to June 3 at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, Seventh Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan. Information and tickets: http://www.carnegiehall.org or +1-212-247-7800.
(Patrick Cole is a reporter for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own. This interview was adapted from a longer conversation.)
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