Whenever I start a conversation with “My father is a circus clown”, I’m met with bemused looks and a plethora of questions. My parents met on tour in the mid-eighties: my mother had run away to join The Circus Finlandia and my dad had just agreed to do a season there. He was a short, Wayfarer-baring Italian acrobat and clown, she was this blonde tomboy who sported larger-than-life shoulder pads underneath her Norwegian sweater. It was love at first curtain call. Two years later, I was born and christened on the manége of the very same circus. The priest looked very confused, I’ve been told.
My childhood was a fantastical, real-life enactment of a Fellini movie – not by chance, either. My grandfather starred in many of his films (I’ll save that story for another time). Most of my days were spent in dressing room caravans with ballerinas and Russian aerialists. I observed intently as they painted on their elaborate make-up, stretched their elastic limbs in camel-tone fishnets, and whittled themselves into the most imaginative of costumes: velvet uniforms á la Nutcracker, Lycra evening gowns with more slits and cut-outs than fabric. My personal favorite? A complete baroque get-up that imitated a succulent fruit and dessert buffet, topped off with a white, foot-long wig. The kind that would make McQueen himself jealous, post mortem.
To say that 501’s and a white t-shirt didn’t cut it in that environment would be a wild understatement. My aunt would even glue-gun denim jackets with leftover Swarovski crystals to avoid appearing « too basic, my dear ». The term normcore wasn’t invented back in the nineties, but it would’ve been regarded as the sartorial equivalent of a mortal sin. Allow me to paint the picture: this was the kind of crowd that wore the most outrageous Ed-Hardy-glitter-tattoo-angel-wings tracksuits with abandon. And pink sneaker heels, unapologetically and unironically.
After spending all those critical years in what can only be described as a sequin-clad, sparkle-filled costume wardrobe, it is no wonder I get anxious about stepping out in a crisp button-up and a pair of skinnies. I wish I were the type that could confidently pull off the nonchalant French editor look. However, I’ve come to accept the fact that I am a bonafide maximalist all the way to my animal-print loving core. I dabble with minimalism from time to time, only to return to the excess. The silver Marant bomber. The snake skin embellished red platforms. Golden hoops larger than the ones the aerialists performed on. And leotards, don’t even get me started on those. See, if you ask me, Ms. Chanel got it all wrong. Always add one more thing before stepping out the door.
Words by Christine Göös
Photos courtesy of Loomis Dean