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Circus costumes have long impacted and been influenced by fashion trends, with some iconic symbols and silhouettes enduring as persistent representations of circus. Garment embellishment techniques used for fashion runways cross over to costume and vice versa, with intricate beading and surface decorations elevating fashion to the center ring. Drawing on the bright color, sparkling visual textures, and iconic silhouettes and symbols, the items in the Fashion vitrine bring circus costume from the runway to the ring and back.

Cornell Fashion + Textile Collection's Very Own Ringmistress
Cornell Fashion + Textile Collection's Very Own Ringmistress
Cornell Fashion + Textile Collection

The Cornell Fashion + Textile Collection's Very Own Ringmistress

Title: The Cornell Fashion + Textiles Collection’s Very Own Ringmistress

Year: Assembled in 2022

Designer: Styled by Jenny Leigh Du Puis

Show / Intended Use:

Objects & Materials: Top Hat, White Marabou Jacket, Gown, Silver glitter platform boots

Source: The Cornell Fashion + Textiles Collection

Item Information

Top Hat: Object ID 2012.04.018. Description from Cornell Fashion + Textile Collection reads "Top hat, dark brown fur, black grosgrain ribbon band and narrower black grosgrain ribbon around edge of brim, light tan leather inner band, cream silk lining. Maker's label printed inside crown: "Extra Quality Trade Mark Dunlap & Co. N.Y. Copyrighted"; stamped with vendor's name below maker's label "Carl S. Welch Druggist Wellsboro, Pa." Dunlap & Co, New York, New York. Donor Unknown

Harlequin gown: Object ID 1997.33.035. Description from the Cornell Fashion + Textile Collection reads "Multi color harlequin sequin long torso V neck top, tulle skirt. Sleeveless gown with uneven hem of shorter front and longer back. Low-waisted bodice of sequined diamond pattern in purple, pink, orange, lime and white. Very full tulle skirt of peach, pink and purple net. Back zipper. Scaasi #: 7254 R91". Collection: Resort 91. Designer: Arnold Scaasi, donated by the designer.

Silver glitter boots: Silver glitter platform boots. Object ID 2005.28.002. Date: 1990...1999. Donated to CF+TC by Mariel Quevedo.

Information on White Marabou Jacket forthcoming, please check back.

Red & Black Ringmistress
Red & Black Ringmistress
Susan Vonderheid

Red & Black Ringmistress

Title: Red & Black Ringmistress

Year: 2000s

Objects & Materials: Red blazer with black velvet collar & black long skirt with attached shorts, sequin, jewelry, & rhinestone embellishments

Loaned by: Susan Vonderheid

Red blazer embellished by Natalie Chandler. Skirt and Jacket worn by Natalie Chandler as Ringmistress for the Culpepper Merriweather Circus 2001-2003, and by Susan Vonderheid for Circus Funtastic in 2020.

"Dragons" Ringmaster
"Dragons" Ringmaster
Loaned by Feld Entertainment, Inc.

"Dragons" Ringmaster Costume for Johnathan Lee Iverson

Title: “Dragons” Ringmaster Costume for Johnathan Lee Iverson

Year: 2012

Designer: Gregory Poplyk

Show / Intended Use: The 142nd Edition of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus

Objects & Materials: Leather top hat, White dress shirt with brooch at throat, Beaded vest, Beaded & rhinestoned tail coat, Red embellished trousers with stirrup & suspenders, Red leather boots with red & gold scale detailing

Loaned by: Feld Entertainment, Inc.