Costumes & Characters
"I flirted with the look of the Elvis years through an approach that is both classic
and graphic. I brought to it a contemporary touch that reflects
the vitality of the era. I've borrowed from 1950s design and sublimated it to
create a world of eclectic Technicolor lines to come up with a dynamic fantasy
that highlights the body."
— Stefano Canulli, Costume Designer
Elvis Presley defined the image of the Rock’n’Roll rebel in the ‘50s and ‘60s, first
with pink and black suits, then with leather jackets, black pants, a pompadour
hairstyle and a casual manner. This iconic image, which embodies all the
excitement, turbulence and the ideal of freedom of the era, is still on the cutting
edge 50 years later. The Viva ELVIS costumes are inspired by Presley's life, his
entourage, his concerts and his films. The fabulous imagination of ‘50s and ‘60s
America, which was expressed through the cinema, advertising and magazines of the time,
was a source of inspiration for costume designer Stefano Canulli. But his work is neither
a reproduction of stereotypes and details of the period, nor is it a retro aesthetic.
In Viva ELVIS, we’re diving back into the 1950s and 1970s with
Stefano Canulli’s costumes. The makeup highlights eyeliner and
false eyelashes in all their variations, from doe eyes to doll’s
eyes. Nathalie Gagné added iridescent colors to conventional black eyeliner
to evoke the excitement of the period and make the eyes shimmer
in the lights. "I pushed the art of removable makeup we
established in ZAIA and CRISS ANGEL Believe even further," Gagné said. In
Viva ELVIS, this technique is the basis for different parts of
the face onto which we can add other materials such as
extravagant false eyelashes, lace, jewelry, crystal and even
latex prosthetics. This allows a rapid and total change of face—
and character—in just a few seconds without having to use glue.
- Offset printing was used to create the anatomical patterns on the comic
book superhero-inspired costumes in the Got a Lot of Living To Do number.
- The Western scene, features printed solid colors on a sponge mesh fabric
that is rarely used for clothing, but extremely useful for its properties of
rigidity and flexibility. The cuts are emphasized with contrasting colors,
while the cowgirls’ costumes feature fake fur tutus in a cowhide pattern.
- Synthetic paper material was used to create the romantic ‘letter dresses’
of the late ‘50s.
- The striped prison uniforms in the Jailhouse Rock scene were given a
futuristic look with silver piping.
- For the first time at Cirque du Soleil, some of the costume accessories use
flocking – coating a surface with fibers to give it the appearance of
- For the final scene of the show, almost all the artists are wearing a
variation of the famous Elvis jumpsuit. There are approximately 50 of them,
using a total of 250 yards of fabric in a fiery kaleidoscope of colors. Each is
decorated with embroidered images that evoke the world of Elvis –
objects, food, animals, personal effects and so on.
- Urethane foam wigs recreate the Elvis hairstyle in a Japanese manga
comic strip interpretation.
- The showgirls' costumes are decorated with colorful feathers printed on
transparent acetate to create the illusion of a plume of crystal feathers.
- The costumes are ornamented with some 100,000 crystals.
- The show calls for more than 450 pairs of shoes and 150 custom wigs.
- There is a total of nearly 400 Viva ELVIS costumes, employing some 1,500
components such as shoes, wigs and dresses.