The Circus Comes to Town
LACMA's Costume Council previews Cirque du Soleil's 'Iris' costumes
Published on June 29, 2011
Last Wednesday night, The Costume Council at LACMA closed out their season of fashion programming with a preview of Iris, Cirque du Soleil's cinema-themed spectacular that is scheduled to begin previews for a decade-long run at the Kodak Theater next month. And while members of the Council were treated to an actual scene from the performance, the evening focused on the costumes of course, with Iris costume designer Philippe Guillotel on hand to talk about his masterpieces in the best English he could.
"Magic" is how Guillotel described his intricate, elaborate stage wares — many of which feature working parts and serve dual purpose as scenery. "I love technology. And I want the costumes to just work. When it works, it's beautiful."
Among the 1920s, Art Deco-infused pieces that worked were a film can "hula hoop" that spun around its wearers hips, a vintage movie camera-as-a-hat with a working spotlight and an old timey, ruffled bustle on legs affixed to a wheel, so one actress can create the illusion of two.
Guillotel is no stranger to making magic happen through clothing, having costumed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France and also Cirque's production of Love, the Beatles homage that continues to play in Las Vegas.
When he began work on Love, he didn't know much about the Beatles. Ironically, LACMA's pop art collections ultimately served as his inspiration.
After a breakdown of sketches and examples of Iris' simpler styles — a velvet usher's outfit with a cloche hat (the bodice of which happens to serve as a film projector) and the 1920s bloomers that serve as an essential prop on a set of airborne twins — the audience caught a glimpse of a full-on Iris fashion show, complete with a a phonograph headpiece that fans out, a major braided wig and yes, the celluloid hula hoop.
They weren't the only ones who put on a fashion show. We caught some major outfits at the event reception, which took place in LACMA's outdoor courtyard — many of them worn by Costume Council members.
But no celluloid hula hoops. We'll have to go to the Kodak for those.
Job: Personal stylist and wardrobe consultant, founder Lauriebstyle.com
Wearing: A dress from Squaresville in Los Feliz, Club Monaco tux jacket, vintage cuff and Michael Antonio shoes.
Why she caught our eye: Because confidence looks good.
Job: To contort their bodies into positions that would send us to the hospital.
Wearing: Metallic bodysuits.
Why they caught our eye: We've been meaning to take up Yoga.
Sara Muller Chernoff
Job: Art collector, vintage fashion aficionado and longtime member of the LACMA Costume Council
Why she caught our eye: Her spectator Oxford shoes look exactly like ones seen in Iris.
Wearing: A dress by Threadbare, her friend Jen Smith's line
Why she caught our eye: Because we had to do a double take to make sure she wasn't actually Florence Welch gone brunette.
Wearing: Some hardcore earrmuffs that fan out.
Why he caught our eye: he didn't — he caught our ears.
Job: Manager of Golyester, the high-end vintage store on La Brea Avenue.
Wearing: Vintage everything — including the acrylic 1980s earrings byDynasty costume jeweler (and the late Herb Ritts' former stepmother) Judith Hendler.
Why she caught our eye: Did we mention the Judith Hendler earrings?