by Rachel Pender-Cudlip

Over Cirque Bijou’s 25 year history, we have made a lot of shows. And from these shows, we have amassed a huge array of wonderful costumes. Over the years, we’ve had a few attempts at cataloguing and organising, but mitigating factors such as lack of hanging space and time have meant that they’ve not quite received the attention they deserve.

Recently, however, we’ve made a concerted effort to resurface hidden gems and reacquaint ourselves with long lost pieces. We’ve been busy sorting through all the shirts, trousers, catsuits, ball gowns, headgear and interesting cloaks – hanging them all up and dusting them all off.

It’s been a mammoth task and an enjoyable journey uncovering specially made items for particular shows.

We wanted to share some favourites with you….

Time Capsule Time

FUSE, 2004-2013

The above costumes were created by Abby Grewcock for our show FUSE in 2004. This was a high-energy, explosive show with dance, acrobatics, fire, pyrotechnics and aerial performance. The costumes were beautifully made and as durable as you’d expect for such a dangerous show, and after hundreds of outings over almost a decade, almost 20 years on they are still in excellent condition.

Immersive Party, 2022

In 2022 we created an immersive circus show for a private client’s Christmas party. We told the story of an evil old ringmistress called Magpie, who kept a troupe of circus performers trapped within her monochrome world. When she was finally defeated, technicolor was restored! The brilliant costumes for this event were made for us by Shooting Flowers – a full monochrome set, and then a complete technicolor makeover.

Battle For The Winds, 2012

The leotard pictured above was one of literally hundreds of costumes designed and created for our show Battle For The Winds, which launched the Olympic and Paralympic Sailing and Windsurfing events as part of London2012. This one in particular has been used many times since.

The show also produced some very particular and unique costumes which we used to tell the stories of the characters – such as Aeolus, god of the wind, and Doldrum, the rock-dwelling baddie of the piece.

Below are a few examples of these, beautifully illustrated by Arts University Bournemouth students who designed and made all the costumes.

SOURCE 2014

Photos from a touring outdoor project in London in 2014 called Source, in partnership with Nutkhut, reveal another beautifully detailed set of colourful costumes. Together, they create a story – individual characters with their own identity, quirks and agenda.

Photo Credit: Vipol Sangoi, Janet Haines, Penny Piddock, Andre Pattenden, Helen Murray, David Rigler, Flo Fitzgerald