Costumes & Characters
"Nightclubbing is a fantasy. There you learn the language of the
body and the way of seduction. You witness the most energetic audacity,
how to be desirable, self-confident or provocative." — Thierry Mugler,
Aside from his obvious and well-known genius for the daring and the innovative,
provocative French fashion designer Thierry Mugler, who was originally a dancer,
has an extraordinary, probably unique ability to design sexy clothes that flatter,
enhance and sublimate any kind of body. Mugler doesn’t make people more beautiful
than they are, but he does emphasize the individual beauty of each person he designs
for, elevating their natural assets to a whole new level. That made him ideally
qualified to design the costumes for ZUMANITY, because the members of the show’s
cast indisputably come in a wide (and glorious) assortment of shapes, sizes and body
As an example, 23 different types of stones for a total
of 3,316 stones are used on the bra cups for the La Muerte bra. 3,460 hand strung
beads are used for ONE Dance Bead costume. And 136 yards of silk is required to make
one of the large red capes! Even the ushers are in suggestive Mugler originals
(washboard abs on t-shirts for the men and bikini tops and bottoms on dresses for
Thierry Mugler also has a particular affinity for creatures of the night, and that
too made him the natural choice to create the costumes for the show. "In clubs you
learn how to accentuate your clothes - how to be a fashion hero or glamour goddess,"
he says. His creations, which contribute a great deal to the show's atmosphere of
heightened sexuality, were designed to be provocative and convey a sense of
adventurousness. He created clothes that make a statement about the distinct
personality of each individual character, in a show that is more character-driven
than any previous Cirque du Soleil production.
While some of Mugler's costumes are exuberant and wildly colorful, others are
minimalist to the extreme, in striking blacks and whites. He frequently offset the
richness and opulence of his designs by executing them in unconventional, unexpected
materials such as latex for overcoats and metals for undergarments - which he selected
not only for their look, but for the sounds they make. The use of fur, feathers,
lace, fishnet stockings, velvet dresses, super-fine wasp-waist corsets, cone bras,
and plastic accessories come together an aesthetic effect and a look that is provocative,
eccentric, and pure Zumanity. Stephano Canulli, Eleni Uranis, Francine Desrosiers,
and Guy Brassard worked as assistants to Mugler.
"The costumes were all made at Cirque du Soleil's ateliers in Montreal," explains
Jack Ricks, head of wardrobe for Zumanity. "We had very detailed sketches and worked
very closely with Thierry to recreate his exact designs to fabric." In fact, they
scoured the world for the best possible materials, from silk and lace in Paris to
gloves in Portugal. "There is a real sense of luxury to the show," says Ricks.
"There is no full nudity but many of the women are topless."
One of the more flamboyant characters is Jacobo, described as an androgynous
spirit of sensuality. "He is a cross between a man and a woman, and wears everything
from an enormous black silk cape to a large stole of black and purple roses (made of
velvet and nylon), and a Greek-style wig of molded silicon. "He is a character of
temptation who appears with a live snake and wears silver nipple covers," adds Ricks.
Unusual and unexpected materials such as latex (for some dresses and overcoats)
and metal (for some undergarments) give nuance to the richness of the designs. These
materials were chosen not only for their appearance but also for the sounds they make.
For example: The fur on the lower leg of the Fawn's pants is made from a combination
of toothbrush bristles, human hair, and yak fur. The pattern on the chest of the
character named Moliner, who wears a long velvet dress, was made using a stencil
and a net onto which black silicon was applied. And clearly evocative of fetishism,
Jonel's costume is made of stretchy vinyl, while her whip is made of leather and,
reminiscent of a cartoon character, her bright red hair is made of expanded foam.
The effect of nudity is achieved through airbrushing.
Other artists wear prosthetic body parts, including brow pieces, chins, ears,
even colored contact lenses, to enhance their appearance. A former Miss France, for
instance, performs a bondage ballet on a swing with black fabric encircled her
wrists and ankles. "She is a gorgeous person whose form has been enhanced with
corsets, prosthetics, and flesh-colored fabrics" Ricks notes. "She looks nude under
the lights. With a wig of flowing red hair and a lace mask she is a fantasy figure
come to life."
The Rose Boy wears a white leather jacket lined in fur, then embroidered and
hand-painted with roses, the theme of his performance number. He also wears
break-away blue jeans and a jeweled g-string. Other characters are bedecked in
everything from seductive layers of lingerie to two huge feathered headpieces that
were made by Chris Mark in New York City (in one of the first times Cirque du Soleil
has gone outside its own shops for specialty items).
"There is great detail in all of the costumes," says Ricks. "In executing
Thierry's costumes, we realized his dreams for the show." The costumes add to the
overall fantasy world created in Zumanity, a new avenue of exploration for Cirque
All in all there are more than 5,500 costume pieces worth an estimated $6 million.
And they up make the most provocative characters...
Mistress of Sensuality
The world of Zumanity unfolds under the supervision of Edie,
the Mistress of Sensuality. Edie, Cirque du Soleil's only resident
drag queen, guides the audience through a journey of sexual self-discovery.
The Botero Sisters
Sexy, sweet and a little bit naughty, The Boteros greet the audience
as two very voluptuous, very flirtatious French maids in a foreshadowing
of the shock, awe and fun that lies in wait behind the curtain. They go
on their own journey starting as prim and proper hostesses and end up
letting their hair down and joining the fun.
Dick and Izzy
Two clowns, in-house sex experts slightly past their prime,
show us how to improve and enhance our daily sex life. They are
happy to give unsolicited and hilarious advice and tips to become
winners in the erotica arena and they are always looking for new
- Scotch Baggies (2005+) — a comedic act in which Izzy
shows the audience how to make fake breast implants using sandwich
baggies filled with Scotch, and gets a man from the audience to help
her put them on. (Comes between "Magnum" and "Hand-to-Hand")
- Lite (2015+) — a comedic act in which Dick and Izzy bring an
audience member up to rave with them on stage. (Comes between
"Pole" and "2 Men")
- Express Dating (2015+)— Dick and Izzy give demos of various
sex toys and show the benefits of express dating with two
willing audience members. (Comes between "Straps" and "Tissu Solo")
- Knives (2005-2006) — Comedic act in which audience
members are brought on stage and tricked into thinking knives are
being thrown at them.
- Pom Poms (2005-2015) — The Botero Sisters get in on
the fun when they along with Izzy play a trick on Dick,
and he becomes quite focused on covering his privates
with pom poms.