In the last year, Clifton Park native Hannah Corneau has gone from the star of the show to running the show.
Though this time, it’s not on stage, but rather with a fashion endeavor.
Corneau, a 2007 Shenendehowa High School graduate, had a nine-month run playing Elphaba in “Wicked” on Broadway. Her contract ended just weeks before the pandemic shut down Broadway and postponed performances for the foreseeable future.
“I had just hit a stride if you will,” Corneau said. “Because as an artist, my goal is to originate roles, to really go on the journey of a new musical.”
Playing Elphaba was her ticket to landing those roles, and while she did secure another after “Wicked,” the production has been indefinitely paused because of the pandemic.
Like many performing artists, she had to reevaluate her career. Some actors have started teaching classes during this time. However, Corneau, who lives in New York City, decided to create a new role, casting herself as director and producer of The Rose House, a fashion brand of curated vintage and custom-made pieces.
“Near the end of ‘Wicked,’ I had dreamt about being the leader, the visionary of a brand. I had worked in retail [and] of course, my family has been in the women’s fashion industry for a long time,” Corneau said.
That would be the Musler family of Musler’s fine women’s clothing. The business was started by Jules Musler in 1926 and was initially located in the Parker Building, which could be accessed through the Proctors arcade.
“My grandfather signed the lease the month before the theater opened,” said Peter Musler, the third-generation shop owner, and Corneau’s uncle. “When we had a presence in downtown we always advertised in Proctors playbill and our ad read ‘The longest-running performance in Proctors’ history.’ ”
In 1991, Musler’s moved out of downtown Schenectady and is currently located at 1726 Union St.
“It’s a rare thing nowadays to have a family business exist as long, so we’re proud of that,” Musler said.
“There’s just been an emphasis and passion surrounding fashion and, women’s fashion predominately, in my family for 95 years,” Corneau said.
That passion runs through The Rose House, which exists on Instagram for now, though Corneau is working on a website as well.
“I’m curating a collection of vintage items; I am creating custom garments for the line and I’m also curating and buying different adornments, whether that is headpieces, headbands, hair clips, essentially hair adornments and jewelry,” Corneau said.
Some are made by Corneau, while others are vintage finds that she’s been collecting. The aesthetic is dreamy and whimsical, with some staple pieces like The Rose House signature crew.
“What I would love it to be is a fashion house. I can see The Rose House Home happening at some point, whether that’s essential goods or . . . there’s a lot of dreams and I would love for The Rose House to be an umbrella for a lot of things, with emphasis on fashion, art, beauty and culture,” Corneau said.
So far, The Rose House has been more successful than she expected and her family has been supportive of the new endeavor.
“My mom and my uncle Peter, they talked to me about buying for the line. They talked to me about the challenges of pursuing this journey because retail is difficult. But right now I’m not so much thinking about it as retail. I’m thinking about it as creative expression and if people want to jump on the bandwagon and collect these goods that I’m curating, amazing,” Corneau said.
“She’s in a unique situation because of what her prior career and hopefully her future career will continue to be,” Musler said. “She’s got very quirky, interesting taste that [appeals] to a different base, which is good. So I’m extremely supportive of her.”
Musler recently sent Corneau many Musler’s labels from decades ago and Corneau repurposed them, sewing them onto tote bags for Musler’s customers.
“There’s definitely a great emphasis on family with The Rose House,” Corneau said.
While Corneau is looking forward to getting back to the theater and hopes to continue The Rose House even when venues open back up, the fashion endeavor has become the silver lining to a challenging time.
“It is a creative expression that I can control, which as an artist is rare. You creatively express yourself but you have a director, you have a producer. But right now I am the director, I am the producer and that feels really good,” Corneau said.
For more information visit The Rose House on Instagram.
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Categories: Life & Arts