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Behind the Scenes | Totem | Cirque Du Soliel

Totem by Cirque Du Soliel

Australian designer Kym Barrett is responsible for the costume direction for Cirque Du Soliel’s breath-taking production Totem, now playing in Melbourne. Aside from having worked on Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet, The Matrix and upcoming film The Nice Guys (with the terribly unattractive cast of Ryan Gosling, Matt Bomer and Kim Basinger), Kym has also lent her creative touch to video games, animation, opera and theatre. So surely designing for the circus wasn’t too much of a stretch? “Stretch” being the operative word as freedom of movement is key for the lithe performers in conjunction with safety and beauty.

Totem by Cirque Du Soliel

Totem showcases themes of evolution, fauna and various human cultures, and so Kym looked to nature documentaries and traditional dress when designing outfits. While the show’s look relies on tribal prints, amphibious skins and lycra, lycra, lycra there is also glamour to be found. “Crystal Man” is entirely enrobed in black velvet adorned with pieces of mirror and silver paillettes transforming him into a human disco ball. The twin foot jugglers know as “Crystal Ladies” shine in around 5,000 Swarovski crystals each and look like the love-children of Grace Jones on her fiercest day and Jem. The show also travels with a haul of M.A.C cosmetics to make even the keenest beauty hoarder envious (it’s false lash nirvana backstage).

Totem by Cirque Du Soliel

All costumes are custom fitted to the artists, are hand made in Cirque Du Soliel’s Montreal HQ and are fashioned from prints created exclusively for the show. There are 750 pieces, plus a back-up for each on tour, and each outfit gets entirely remade every six months or so. It seems that behind the scenes, the wardrobe situation for Totem is almost as improbable as the thrilling feats witnessed on stage.

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