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Rhinestones, crystals, lycra, velvet and feathers may sound like an afternoon of arts and crafts, but these are in fact the delicate details behind one of the world’s most creative stage shows, Cirque du Soleil.

The global phenomenon has bedazzled and bewitched more than 160 million spectators in more than 400 cities across the world, and the latest show to grace Melbourne is KOOZA, the most acrobatically breath-taking show yet in the Cirque du Soleil stable.

KOOZA is a colourful, sparkling homage to the traditions of circus, combining thrilling acrobatics with the art of clowning to deliver a contemporary take on lost conventions. With an international cast of 50 acrobats, musicians, singers and actors, KOOZA delivers moment after moment of heart-stopping feats and laugh-out-loud antics to a live soundtrack fusion of jazz, funk and Bollywood beats. With nods to Carnivale, the Day of the Dead, military fashion, rock and roll and 1920s cotton club glamour, KOOZA is a visual feast.

The name KOOZA itself is inspired by the Sanskrit word ‘koza’, which means ‘box’, ‘chest’ or ‘treasure’, chosen because one of the underlying concepts of the production is the idea of a ‘circus in a box’. It’s something many of us loved as children, but as adults consumed by the chaos of modern life, the circus isn’t something that usually amuses or even interests us. Cirque du Soleil, however, has never been one to associate itself with the everyday circus, and KOOZA is a definitive testament to that. Death-defying and cringe-worthy moments are aplenty, as are moments of awe and bewilderment, and that’s all before the first intermission.

There are very few instants in my working week where I find something relaxing enough to entirely switch off, or interesting enough to wholly submit to the moment, but my mid-week trip to Kooza accomplished the latter, and for over two hours I was enthralled, gripping the edge of my seat.

I was mesmerised by the detailed and extravagant wardrobe before me, which was in truth more ‘couture’ than ‘costume’, and putting pen to paper to describe the KOOZA aesthetic injustice, has been a feat of its own. Designer Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt drew inspiration from the painter Klimt, Mad Max, time travel movies, India and Eastern Europe, tin soldiers and marching bands. Illustrating a colourful look that alludes to Alice in Wonderland, Baron Munchaüsen and The Wizard of Oz, Marie-Chantale’s vision brings together more than 175 costumes and 160 hats in the one show – 1080 items in all – including all the shoes, props and wigs.

Each costume is appropriately designed for the act it entails too; skin tight glittering lycra for the aerial hoop and contortion acts, symmetric and padded for the high wire, mysterious and moody for the ‘Wheel of Death’, and playful and creative for purposes none other than to delight and distract. The show-stopper? A crimson, mauve and burnt orange feathered cape some three metres long, delicately hand-pieced together over more than 280 hours.

Whether your interests lie in fashion or not, disregard what you know of the circus and treat yourself to a trip to KOOZA before it leaves Melbourne on March 26, and prepare to be captivated and charmed.

For tickets and details head to cirquedusoleil.com.

The Fashion Advocate x

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