Amaluna costume designer Mérédith Caron has brought a company of fabulous and eclectic characters to life through the magic of her creations. She imagined the world of the show – the mysterious island of Amaluna – as existing somewhere in the Mediterranean as a true meeting place between East and West, a distant land where ancient and modern times overlap and blend harmoniously, and several different eras and cultures have seemingly melded into the same location.
Her complex multidimensional costumes evoke a world of day and night that is unquestionably contemporary, yet overlaid with the spirit of the Elizabethan period and containing subtle references to the Orient and Scandinavia. “It’s the encounter of humanity, the glorification of the beauty of the human being,” she explains.
The Amaluna costumes are a symbiosis between theatre and acrobatics. For Mérédith, the character and the costume are inseparable. “One calls out to the other. It is a communion, a symbiotic relationship,” she says. “But above all, it is the artist that I dress.”
To dress the artists, Mérédith has created “progressive” costumes with multiple configurations. Some of them put on a parade uniform for the more theatrical moments in the show, and performance costumes when they perform their act. Many of the garments are equipped with pads and other removable parts – the wearers might, for example, remove the sleeves and keep their doublets on, or remove the doublets altogether and perform in their shirts.
Women with the right stuff
Amaluna recreates a fabulous female mythology on stage. Inspired by Asia Minor, the corseted costumes of the Amazon warriors are augmented with ponytails and high-heeled black and red leather boots in a look that is more fantasy than historical reality. The world of Amaluna is also populated by a layer of unruly half-human, half-animal characters, freely inspired by the world of Shakespeare’s Tempest. Lizards, peacocks and fairies rub shoulders with each other.
Denim – A contemporary material and emblem of adolescence
The choice of materials is as important to Mérédith Caron as the lines of the garments. She has given denim doublets worn by the Boys who land on the island of Amaluna a distinctly Renaissance look: The sleeves are slashed to reveal the lining, and the garments are embellished with an 18th century velvet flocking to create the impression of a contemporary jean jacket.
Queen Prospera’s daughter Miranda, who is about to move into adulthood in this remote environment, wears linen, cambric and distressed velvet – a selection that is highly reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance. Her costume expresses her enthusiasm and thirst for discovery.
The meeting of the aesthetic and the acrobatic
Some of the items are quite voluminous, but even though they are also light, they are never allowed to impede the free movement of the artists. The costumes with pink accents worn by the girls for the Icarian Games act feature removable tutus so as not to hinder their movements. The Renaissance-style sleeves are open at the armpits to ensure their arms will have a full range of motion.
The costumes of the two unicyclists are fitted with cages that hide their legs in a reference to the aesthetics of the Spanish Golden Age. The cages are made of perforated material to allow the artists to see the unicycle seats. During their act the cages break into two pieces, announcing the start of the storm after which the budding love between Miranda and her suitor will be tested.
Raw talent and musicianship
The musicians in Queen Prospera’s entourage are creatures of the night who wear costumes that underline their strong personalities and their rock star aura with a really current look. Mérédith was inspired by the clothing styles of major figures in the worlds of music, fashion and film such as k.d. lang , Roy Orbison, John Galliano, Tim Burton and even a rock version of the Village People. “You might well see girls in these kinds of clothes among the heterogeneous fauna of a bar in avant- garde Berlin, for example,” says Mérédith, “hence the link between the costumes, the music and the decidedly rock sensibility of a show that celebrates beauty in all its guises.”
Close-ups on the costumes
• Queen Prospera wears a large golden mantle composed of four rectangles on which are printed in sublimation the cover image of GAIA, the book of photographs taken in space by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté. It shows a majestic cloud system captured at a distance of 350 km above the earth’s surface.
• The peacock costumes are made up of 14 layers of heat- pleated materials trimmed in leather and stretch metallic fabric. The tails open out to a “fan” of eight feet with hydraulic pistons that compensate for their weight. Made in the same proportion to the performers’ bodies as the bird’s fans have to theirs, the tails are attached to the artists with belts that hide the mechanisms under embroidered feathers. The skeleton and leaves of the fans are made of the same Fiberglass material used in the manufacture of fishing rods, and screen-printed metallic paper is glued to the leaves to recreate the iridescent look of peacock plumage.
• For the Valkyries’ costumes in the Aerial Straps act, Mérédith Caron was inspired by the oceans, above and below the surface. Shades of blue and green evoking Scandinavia mix with shades of sky and sea to compose a soothing palette of sophistication.
• The cages of the unicyclists’ costumes have a diameter of almost five feet and a height of two-and-a-half feet. The materials they are made of include Kevlar – a thermoplastic polymer – and gold leaf.
• The white dress worn by the artist performing the Peacock Dance comprises a bustier and a skirt. The bustier is made of stretch nylon tulle covered with white beaded lace and Swarovski crystals. The skirt is made of 65 yards of white non-stretch nylon tulle covered with silver lace and Swarovski crystals. The dress has a total of 6,500 Swarovski crystals and 325 silver lace additions. The tail features 12 two-meter pleated polyester voile panels with sunray pleats (bias-cut knife pleats, narrower at the top than at the bottom, producing a flared effect), printed with white peacock feather designs.
• There are over 130 costumes in Amaluna, made up of nearly 800 different items.