The Great Mystical Circus

In the film industry, dedication is integral in order to create the wonderful world of fantasy.

We received an invitation to be part of the wardrobe team for the film, “The Great Mystical Circus”, director Carlos Diegues’ 18th film produced in Portugal, France and Brazil.

Filmed entirely in Lisbon, the movie tells the story of a circus at the end of the 19th century until the end of the 20th century. This visual narrative traveling through many decades, demanded extensive research in the wardrobe department.

The production took three months to film in the outskirts of Lisbon alongside an existing circus with live animals. Elephants, lions and giraffes formed part of our work team providing us an unusual and ludic work environment.

The protagonists’ wardrobe was custom made by the tailors in the team. The head of the wardrobe department designed the costumes in such a way that they narrated the story and the passing of time using a unified aesthetic throughout the film. Each costume was handcrafted for the clowns, trumpeters, illusionists, jugglers, and contortionists, amongst others.

Another part of the costumes were rented from a renowned Spanish costume rental company; dresses from the 1900, shoes, gloves, top hats, tuxedos and smoking suits. We organized large volumes of clothing in different spaces by time periods and gender to facilitate the shooting of the film and production.

The cast was quite extensive, including many secondary characters, extras as well as two children. It has been a great pleasure to recreate history through the use of costumes in one film.

The film was shot in chronological order. The masterly, highly detailed dresses from the start of the century accompanied by hats, gloves and small purses combined beautifully with the morning coats and the gentlemen’s top hats recreated the elegance of the period.

The exaggerated volume of women’s dresses of this period forged a much more simple and comfortable silhouette upon the first decades of the 20th century. The hairstyles, the clothes, and the attitude of the society and consequently the circus performers was ever changing. We enter the 20th century with lower waists, straighter dresses and more movement. We leave behind the corsets and the heavy dresses of the previous decade.

 The film travels through different stages and the 30’s was marked by a grandiose summer in history.  The spectrum of colors of this era was carried out through the use of raw tones with various hues of white, cream, grey and earth tones. The gentleman’s suits grew wider and the dark hats are replaced by charming straw hats and the female hairstyles gain volume and elegance.

The portrayal of each character plays a fundamental role in the costumes. Make-up artists and hairstylists work side by side with the wardrobe department as well as with the art director. In film, as well as in the fashion industry, the aesthetics team, formed by these four departments, determine exhaustively all of the references and the concepts that shall be accomplished. Ìt is interesting, profound, and extremely motivating work.

In this way, we encompass the last decades of fashion history in one movie, which has been very stimulating and rewarding.  We will not give any more away in this post as to not spoil the suspense.

 The cinema is our greatest passion. Finely detailed work where imagination and fantasy hold the reigns of its existence. The magnitude of this movie has served as a great lesson for those involved in this project.

This film has been shown in the Cannes Film Festival 2018.