Jordan Roth on Creating His GIF-Worthy Tony’s Outfit

The next time you need to put together an absolutely extraordinary outfit, you’d do well to follow the lead of Broadway super producer Jordan Roth. Months before heading to the Tony Awards on Sunday night, Roth had been hard at work with the couture team at Givenchy on his outfit: a fiery, shimmering all-red look topped off by a cape coat. The clothes themselves were designed as an homage to Hadestown, which Roth produced—and which took home a staggering eight awards with Roth looking on. There was plenty to celebrate, and in high style. And Roth, being a Broadway producer, knows how to get theatrical: he turned a video of him in the outfit into GIFs he then posted to Instagram.

Bold? Sure. But not exactly new for Roth, who’s made a habit of rocking men’s couture—that is, extravagant custom-made clothing typically worn by women but not so much by guys—on red carpets. But the homemade GIFs weren’t just about letting fans share a really great outfit. The real hope was to spread the message behind the rose-inspired look, synced up with the one behind Hadestown: the beauty and sacredness of, even against great adversity, a flower taking bloom. “[The look] first has to start with an idea, with something to say and something to explore,” he tells me over the phone Monday morning. “It never starts with, ‘I like that color or that’s a cool fabric.’ It starts with: here’s what I want to say and here’s what I want to feel.” And when you know you’ve really nailed it, it’s GIF time.

GQ: You had a very successful night. You went dressed as an homage to Hadestown, which ends up leading the night and winning all these awards.
Jordan Roth:
Yes, it was an extraordinary night on so many levels. The first, and most important, is 16 years ago my husband introduced himself to me at the Tony Awards. So we return every year for our anniversary and that is the best prize. Then of course to have Hadestown honored so completely, to be taken into people’s hearts like that, really mattered.

Meeting at the Tony Awards is a spectacular meet-cute.
Well, so it was during a commercial break, which is not possible anymore because all the commercial breaks are filled with all the off-telecast awards. But back then there were all these commercial breaks and people would just mill around and we were sitting across the aisle from one another. Richie [Jackson, a TV producer] came across the aisle and introduced himself to me and what I thought was to be a sort of business friendship became our family.

As Hadestown is racking up all these wins, are you starting to feel like a lucky charm? Your outfit is growing more powerful every win.
I always find great meaning in telling a story with my with my fashion. So the single red flower is the central metaphor of this show. It’s there in moments when characters break through to the deepest level of themselves and their love and their potential. And there’s a line in the song that closes the show that has stayed with me from the first moment I heard it. It goes, “Some flowers bloom when the green grass grows. Our praise is not for them, but the one who blooms in the bitter snow, we raise our cups to him.”

And that the idea that I was exploring with this look. That’s where we began. Clare [Waight Keller, Givenchy designer] and the extraordinary craftspeople and artists at Givenchy interpreted that with such extraordinary elegance and creativity and uniqueness, which is what Hadestown town is about. It’s what theater is about and it’s what fashion is about for me.



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