The Art of Sewing : Cirque Du Soleil: Kooza

I had the pleasure of attending the latest Cirque Du Soleil show in Santa Monica this past weekend and what a show it was. Kooza tells the story of The Innocent, a melancholy loner in search of his place in the world. As a lover of clothes, the costumes in Kooza held a special fascination. The Costume Designer, Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt, states "My costumes draw on....everything from graphic novels, the paintings of Gustav Klimt, Baron Munchhausen,the Mad Max movie, time travel movies to India and Eastern Europe." And boy, does it show. Here are a few of her sketches.

Cirque pays special attention to their costumes. I read that they actively seek out new materials which can be used. A "technological watch team" tracks global advances in adhesives, batteries and miniature lights to see how they could be incorporated into costumes. The team looks beyond boundaries of standard textiles to encompass fields such as avionics, plumbing, water sports and even dentistry for components that achieve the imagined task.

The artisans of Cirque Du Soleil's Costume workshop custom-make all the costumes, dyeing the colors in-house or painting costumes directly. They mold each individual hat on a plaster model of the artist's head for a perfect fit. They consider comfort during these shows too: the wig-making team, for example, builds wigs one hair at a time to achieve optimal ventilation. The attention to detail is staggering: the juggler's suit in KOOZA consists entirely of mirrored squares, like a disco ball.

Anyone who wonders why they should learn to sew or why it's so special should just take a look at these costume sketches. The creative process, the gathering of materials, the time spent constructing and the pleasure the audience has in experiencing - these are all reasons to sew. Whether your "costume" is a Holiday outfit, special slacks or cozy jacket, the personal rewards are the same. Just create!