The ringmaster known by the single name Nagara has always staged spectacles rather than mere fashion shows. His clothes, especially the menswear, usually consist pieces acrobats would adore. The flowing shirts that he is partial to, teamed with vests or bibs over tights are the kind of costumes that trapeze artists often adopt to fly through the air dramatically. So, it was not surprising that Mr Sambandaraksa sent out juveniles in jumping stilts in the middle of his presentation, encouraging the audience to express their delight.
The Nagara aesthetic has so much in common with what circus folks wear to perform that even without this distraction the creative value of the clothes would not diminish. Nagara standards of tunics, square-cut tops, column dresses, floaty coats, all subjected to his usual fabric treatment, were aplenty. Perhaps Mr Sambandaraksa realised that when there’s no newness in the design, novelty had to be introduced during the show. What else would the audience go home with?
Surely not the tie-dye twisted tops, nor the sheer hooded duster coats, nor the sequined A-line dresses, and definitely not the shocker of the finale dress that still-a-model Lookate had to wear (right). Appearing like a 1300BC Egyptian concubine (or show girl, you choose!), she strode down the catwalk in a long, spaghetti-strapped dress that opened at the bust line like a parted curtain to reveal a sheer column that hid very little of the wearer’s southern regions.
Of course, there was entertainment value in all this. So enthralled by Lookate’s queenly appearance that some members in the audience leaped up to cheer. And when those boys in jumping stilts re-emerged somersaulting, the show finally reached its climax. The Cirque should have been there.