Cirque du Soleil’s Totem: The Story of the Costumes…

This links to the story of a very talented lady, Kym Barrett. She designed the costumes for “Totem,” the new Cirque du Soleil show. Her background is impressive — full of jobs like “The Matrix” trilogy and Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet.”

The story talks about how the designer has the “luxury” of a year to work on a show. For a film, she has much less time. The example given is her current project for the film titled “Cloud Atlas” which is shooting in locations throughout Europe. She is responsible for dressing about 2,000 people and had about 10 weeks to prepare.

>> With “Totem,” she dressed about 100 people, each with one to three changes, depending how often they’re in the spotlight or part of the ensemble.

But here’s the hitch, she had to think safety into the design while also working on aesthetics that worked thematically.

Robert Lepage, the director of “Totem” remarked, “Obviously, the costumes have to be beautiful without being life threatening… It’s a very tricky craft. Every little thing you sew on a costume could endanger or hurt the performer.”

Designer Barrett spoke about how she spent a lot of time on what you don’t see under the costume, the support structure that ensures the performer’s safety.

“I like to solve those problems first because then I find my freedom, within a set of parameters, to make the costume beautiful.”

She also noted that “not everyone in the audience will necessarily get every concept behind every costume, but that’s OK as long as they feel something.”

The story behind the story is amazing for sure.

Details: Cirque du Soleil’s Totem: Fri.-Dec. 11. AT&T Park, S.F. Show opens in San Jose on March 2. $47-$248.50. (800) 450-1480.


Kym Barrett - Costume Designer


Enjoyed this read? Want more ponderables?

Sign up to our mailing list!

Our weekly DragonBustR Reader will provide you with a nice snapshot of what’s new and ponderable at Jedemi. Plus, you will get updates on The Jedemi Chronicles (Trilogy & Series).



  1. […] may quarrel with the changes. From the sound of it, Haberman is doing for the Spectacular what Cirque du Soleil did for the circus. New look. New attitude. And what appears to be a fun new immersive experience […]

Speak Your Mind