Circus, coming near you!

I promise I will stop quoting from Hadley Freeman’s new book ‘The Meaning of Sunglasses’ (yes…the review IS in prgoress….) but I had to snort at this excerpt on the subject of make-up:

‘With its emphasis on coloured eyelids, unnaturally lashes, pink cheeks and big red lips one cannot help but trace a very obvious lineage between a gal’s night-time look and that of a clown.’

Though I can’t help but sneakily agree especially when I see pictures of Kelly Osbourne after one too many, I’m afraid that the homeplace of the scary clown (who DOESN’T have a fear of clowns?!) is one of my precise sources of inspiration lately.  The circus is coming to town and it’s not just the harlequin illustrations of  Liselotte Watkins for Miu Miu that have filled my head with ringmasters, tight rope walkers, freaks n’ beasts and general topsy turvy-ness (I’m talking about circus of the yesteryear…not the cheapo modern day versions…).  These ‘Circo’ images by Alfonso Ohnur have also given me impetus to seek circus-related style paraphernalia to incorporate into my wardrobe.  A comically oversized bow tie, red ringmaster tail coats, opera length ruched satin gloves.  I’m not purposely coinciding with the Circus night at the Soho Revue Bar (said to be Boombox’s successor….) but there definitely is an air of ”MAY-JAR DRA-MA’ that people are feeling. 

So roll up, roll up, I fear you will have to bear with me whilst I explore this potentially-temporary (when is ever NOT temporary, I ask in a self-consciously fashion-flake way….?) fixation of mine over the coming weeks.  First up, I really had to get rid of this blue millinery material that I had bought in Paris (as a reader helpfully told me) as it had been sitting in my ‘To be DIY-ed’ bag for far too long and really, it was just plain pissing me off.  So I got this idea to cut up this roll of millinery mesh into around 30 cm sections.  Then I folded the sections in half and sewed it up at the top to make sort of like a curved loop.  Once I made about 15 of these ‘loops’, I sewed them all together, overlapping one another to make a sort of ‘looped ruffle strip’.  This then was sewn onto an old American Apparel jersey racerback. With just about enough of the millinery mesh to make another ‘looped ruffle strip’, I added another layer to make a sort of two tiered skirt tacked onto the AA vest. 

Whilst the material borders on being slightly ‘stagey/theatrical’, the contrast with the vest means it’s the right sort of casual-odd combo.  I only wished I looked as great as Princess Victoria, the ‘famous wire dancer’ in the background here….   

34 Replies to “Circus, coming near you!”

  1. That’s a very good idea. I like it. I want to be honest about something, though. All your self-deprecating talk gets a little…not annoying, but maybe you understand?

  2. But I do so wish to look like the wonderful Princess Victoria… she has a poofy red ruffly dress and all that! No…that wasn’t self deprecation… that was me musing about the need to run away to a circus…

  3. Oh it reminds me of the one shouldered Emilio dress with the gauze (bizarrely enough since we were just discussing that very person!). Lovely!

  4. I like it. I’ve been meaning to make something like this since oooh about October but I’m DEFINITELY going to do it now

  5. Oh I love it! Thanks for inspiring me once again. I’ve been on a real sewing binge, and between you and Queen Michelle constantly inspiring me with your new projects, I don’t plan to stop anytime soon!
    I also have to say that I just love how all you Brits say “vest” when we say “tank top”. And we say “vest” when you say “waist coat”. Although it’s normal to you, it’s incredibly charming to us. How about that, a culture with built in charm 😉

  6. I love it! It’s got just the right amount bouffi-ness. If you really want something like the lovely princess V then they have the most amazing pouffy skirts at Beyond Retro. I tried some on yesterday but they were too bouffi for my purposes, which is to wear under circle skirts for added volume. Your idea rocks though. Just need to find the material somewhere… Any ideas (not in Paris!)

  7. I like your outfit and the circus is coming to town. The Miu Miu ads featuring Kirtsen also called this to mind for me.
    On elegance–I think people are mistaking elegance and coolness. I don’t think someone can look elegant in jeans and a tee; that’s not elegance to look cool and chic, that’s charisma.
    And Sapporo, I really loved the city. More people should go there, or maybe not, it was very pleasant because it wasn’t so touristy or full of foreigners (I know as a foreigner, I have no grounds to say that!). I spent a semester there, so it started to feel familiar and like home. Osaka however was the most fun city I visited in Japan.

  8. ooo the loops are like some kind of fabulous origami! great idea! i wonder why there are no tutus in this style. i’m very mucch still feeling acrobat/tight rope walker costumes atm

  9. circuses just have a certain mysticism about them…and I love the skirt you made– looks like it took a lot of time. it’s got that light airiness in a lot of the spring collections.

  10. Yes, a lot of my art work is circus-inspired at the moment. I’m definitely feeling that vibe too… When I saw the vest lying flat, I thought I wasn’t going to like it, however now that I’ve seen it on you, it looks fantastic! Lovely colour mesh too.

  11. I am in mad lust with your silver shoes, S.
    The circus theme is just plain fun. I’m glad you’re going in this direction–it seems perfect for spring!
    That quote is a classic. Who’d a thunk it?

  12. This is so excellent! I wish I had your mad sewing skills..
    Oh and by the way, don’t be creeped out but I made a post about you on my blog, you should check it out!

  13. i definitely have to find some time to put all my ideas into practise. i was planning to create a dress like that for quite a long time and you do remind me of it now. i have a yellow petticoat somewhere, i think i’ll use the volants for that dress to make it real fluffy. aaah, wish i could start right now!
    thanks for your inspiration, as always.

  14. Where are your glorious shoes from? I’ve been longing to look like a twinkletoe-booted woodsprite for while.

  15. Wooo! I finished making my tutu tonight! It’s black though… and I kinda fashioned a black body-con skirt to go under it.

  16. Oh, and thanks for all the lovely comments… go with the circus feeling in you man… everyone can trapeze away…
    Dee: Cheapfabrics.co.uk has many volumey tulle/organza fabrics that could create some interesting things under skirts….

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