Sugar Vendil

If you think classical music is only good for stress relief, you haven't met Sugar Vendil, the woman who decided traditional symphony performances were missing one thing: the cutting-edge, never-stagnant creations of the runway.
As the pianist and artistic director for the ensemble Nouveau Classical Project, Vendil has dedicated her entire career to taking on the immense, seemingly impossible mission of breathing new life into the classical genre that's often stereotyped as being for old folks. By collaborating with fashion's freshest designers, Vendil pairs the sonic with the visual to enhance the entire aural experience. Her irreverent, no-holds-barred approach toward classical music has redefined the conservative genre and helped build audiences among the downtown and fashion elite — a far cry from the crowd that typically shows up for a Mozart concert.
Why my image and music go hand-in-hand
"My ensemble, the Nouveau Classical Project, works with designers to create looks that are inspired by the music we're performing. It's not just about sitting on a stage. Overall, we want our message to be that classical music isn't just about wearing all black and looking bored all the time. We try to express personality through what we wear. We love black obviously, but we're not trying to look like we're going to a funeral."
Why it’s important to break the rules
"Once, in undergrad, a professor gave me grief over what I wore performing at a concert. I wasn't wearing all black, but it wasn't anything risqué. Afterward, I was taken aside and told that if I wanted to be taken seriously, I needed to think about what I wear. It wasn't enough that I practiced more than anyone in the department and I'm damn serious about what I do. I wear what I feel comfortable in and own it. For women in the music industry, it's often about how you look. But, I think people are starting to see there's more to women than what they can do with their bodies. It's starting to balance out a little bit."
The challenge I face every day
"Pursuing a life of music is extremely daring, especially classical music, where audiences are decreasing. But, I do believe in what I'm doing, and I know people can really get something out of classical music. We're showing who we are through our music, and hopefully in doing so we're getting other people excited about it."
Tanya Taylor Red Silk Dress; Topshop Booties.
Makeup by Ashleigh Ciucci; hair by Bethany Brill; styled by Laura Pritchard.

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