We’re not clowning around when we say that some fashion designers have literally brought the circus to town. The Christian Dior Spring 2019 Haute Couture show featured models looking like the chicest sad clowns thanks to Maria Grazia Chiuri’s designs and brilliant hair and makeup. Not to mention, the show took place under the big top with a performance by acrobats to boot.
Additionally, consummate showman Jeremy Scott’s Resort 2019 collection brought the circus fun in all aspects while the Genny Fall 2018 fashion show nodded to clowns, lion tamers and other circus performers. The Marc Jacobs Spring 2019 collection was filled with ruffles, supersized proportions and custom pastel hair that would make Bozo jealous.
The idea of “cool” clowns may be questioned by some, especially those with coulrophobia. (That’s the official term for an intense fear of clowns, FYI.) The circus may not seem as obvious a fashion theme as, say, flowers, animals, the 80s or watercolor paintings, but fashion historically has an enduring love of a good circus performance. The Thierry Mugler “Le Cirque” Fall 1995 collection remains one of the most iconic shows.
Since then, there have been a number of designers who have drawn inspiration from harlequins, ringmasters and jesters. The Marc Jacobs Resort 2013 collection was based on photographer Cindy Sherman’s clown series. Victoria Beckham debuted leopard print clown shoes in Spring 2015. Jeremy Scott previously presented different versions of clowns for Fall 2012 and Fall 2015. Even the 2012 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show featured circus-themed looks. What makes the latest iteration special is how many fashion designers are joining the circus. In the current climate, it seems some amusement is very welcome.
There are plenty of runway looks to draw inspo from, but non-performers may find them too over the top, even without red noses. The most wearable way to pull off the circus trend is to take one or two elements and balance them with other things in your wardrobe so the look is circus chic as opposed to clownish. Ruffs (neck frills) along with ruffles of all styles are popular as are polka dots, argyle or diamond patterns, bows and primary colors. The look can also work with other current fashion trends, like patchwork, paper-bag waists and oversized proportions.
These 19 pieces are playful, but won’t make you like a circus runaway.