Fashion in Circus – Lexicon


There are many aspects that form a great circus; clowns, music, dancers, but arguably one of the most important is the costumes.

Not only do the costumes add to each circus theme, they also need to be made to withstand ropes, acrobatics and quick changes.

Fashion is therefore an essential part of any circus and no one understands this better than, head of costume for NoFitState circus, Rhi Mathews.

Rhi has designed the costumes for this year’s theme, Lexicon, which she describes as ‘sophisticated clowns’ featuring clashing tartan fabrics.

Rhi said: “There’s a clown element to the characters, but they look really cool and on point as far as the fashion world goes.

“We like to shake things up a bit, we don’t want things to look like they are from the high street. So, we’ll take something and completely take it apart, cut the arms off and use the arms as a collar.

“Just play around with it until we come up with something that works.”

Costumes for Lexicon

Costumes for Lexicon NoFitState Circus. Image by Richard Davenport

Rhi gains inspiration for her costumes through using mood boards and Pinterest.

She said: “I’ll just pull out hundreds of images that I like, that make me think of each performer individually or what I think would suit them. Then I’ll put them together on individual design boards.”

Rhi then works with Artistic Director, Firenza Guidi, to come up with an overall look for all of the performers.

Rhi added: “It takes time, especially with the aerial costumes, because you have to consider where they need their protection and how you can hide the protection within the costume.

“They have to be made to withstand all the circus equipment; the ropes and the trapezes are very hard on the fabrics.

“You see all the glamour and then backstage it’s all cuts and bruises.”

Lexicon is in Newcastle-under-Lyme until the 21 April. If you would like more information visit their website or read more about it here.


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