Fashion Diary: Berzerk for Cirque


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Gossip, first impressions, trends in the making, celebrities and style setters. A regular feature by fashion critic Booth Moore.

If you haven’t gone to see Cirque Berzerk’s ‘Beneath,’ do it now! The production, which runs through Aug. 9 at Los Angeles State Historic Park, is a collision of subcultures, a visual feast of cabaret-burlesque-neo-Goth under a big top in the menacing shadow of the downtown skyline. It wasn’t only the acts that were impressive (the vert ramp-inspired trampoline guys are unforgettable), or the subte political message, it was the style. ‘Beneath’ had the feel of a John Galliano runway show.


First performed at Burning Man in 2004, the production was conceived by producer and co-creator Suzanne Bernel; her husband, composer/co-creator Kevin Bourque; and choreographer Neal Everett. Costume designer Heather Goodman, who lives in Long Beach, only had a couple of months to outfit the 25 players. Kevin Bourque plays the ringmaster. ‘I took the shirt and full-front pants Kevin was wearing in years past and turned it up,’ Goodman said on the phone this week. ‘I designed a kooky jacket with mismatched gold brass buttons.’

The chorus (see Goodman’s sketch above), or the Foxy Girls as they are known, are underworld pin-ups inspired, she said, by such cultural touchstones as Rosie the Riveter, flapper girls and Zoot suits.

‘We had a timeline we were working within, the late 1870s to the 1930s,’ said Goodman, who also works as a wardrobe stylist. ‘But I wanted the main character to stand out, that’s why she’s in a red 1940s suit.’

For her research, Goodman looked at paintings by Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Goya. (‘I love his black paintings, she said.’) ‘There needed to be an element of darkness, as if all the clothes are vintage, then distressed and burned.’

After eight more performances, the tent poles will come up and the show will move on to who knows where. So don’t miss out. Or you will feel left behind the curve. Or is that beneath?

Costume sketches for Cirque Berzerk’s ‘Beneath’ by Heather Goodman


Photos: Big top style at Cirque Berzerk

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