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Cirque du Soleil, Desigual team make Magic

August 25, 2011 |  2:16 pm

Cirque du Soleil models wear pieces from Desigual line
The floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center looked like more of a circus than usual on Tuesday at the Magic apparel trade show. That was due in large part to the acrobatic shenanigans of Cirque du Soleil performers, who bounded down the catwalk to highlight a new collaboration between the circus troupe and the Barcelona-based Spanish sportswear brand Desigual.

Called “Desigual inspired by Cirque du Soleil,” the 60-piece debut collection for men, women and children doesn’t stray far from the distinctive eye-catching Desigual (pronounced “dezzy-GWAL”)  aesthetic, which falls somewhere between a comic book confetti flurry and an explosion at a crayon factory. (After all, the name translates to mean “unequal” as in “different” in English.)

The collection of clothing and accessories includes T-shirts, dresses, short dresses, handbags, totes and jackets. Prices will be mostly in the $59 to $98 range. A few statement pieces — like this season’s heavily embroidered jacket with gold foil detail at the shoulders, oversized enamel buttons and a cadre of clown-folk milling about the hem  — are priced closer to $300.

The collection is divided into three themes: “Troupe,” “Human Expression” and “Costume.” The “Troupe” line has a baroque feel and a palette based in traditional circus colors of white, red and black. Pieces bear hand-painted characters and scenes culled from Cirque du Soleil shows, a different one  each season. The inaugural collection draws heavily on the zebra stripes and chubby-cheeked kewpie clowns of “O” (which makes its home at the nearby Bellagio Las Vegas).

The “Human Expression” line’s pieces are designed to add a smidgen of softness and sexiness — by way of floral embroidery, sequins and flashes of silver and red foil printing. A third grouping, called “Costume,” is intended to emphasize multiculturalism, but appears to mostly riff on the details and patterns in the Cirque du Soleil  costume archives.

But in a very literal way, the circus performers’ costumes are a part of each garment in the collaboration. Sewn onto every one is a postage-stamp-sized piece of clear plastic that contains a tiny square of fabric taken from an actual Cirque du Soleil costume.

The collaboration came about only a year ago — on the very same Las Vegas trade show floor, according to Manuel Jadraque, Desigual’s chief operations officer. “The Cirque du Soleil people were walking through the show and they met us,” Jadraque said. “Our two companies have a lot in common — the way we like to evoke emotion, the use of color and patterns. Both companies were even started in the same year — in 1984. So we ended up meeting several times over the year, and this is the result.”

Jadraque said the five-year, worldwide partnership is not just the pairing of two like-minded companies — it’s a calculated effort to raise brand awareness on each other’s home turf. For Desigual that means the North American market (although founded in 1984, the label has had a U.S. presence only since opening its first stateside store in 2009). For the Montreal-based show business venture, it means exposure in Europe and abroad, where Desigual is already established.

The collection will be available through Desigual’s website in November. Then in December it will roll out to Desigual boutiques worldwide (including in Beverly Center and Santa Monica stores) and Cirque du Soleil’s show boutiques (including the Kodak Theatre location in Hollywood, which is home to the new “Iris” show).

While it might seem unlikely that the clown-car cacophony of color- and character-covered clothes would hold much appeal beyond fans of the two brands, in a way it’s almost beside the point. Desigual is sold through 8,000 retail doors globally — including 200 of its own standalone or shop-in-shop locations — and Cirque du Soleil  has 22 shows — eight in Las Vegas alone — being staged around the world. If even a fraction of those customers wants a fashion-forward tchotchke to take home, the eye-catching collection will do just fine.

Photo: Cirque du Soleil-Desigual collaboration on display. Courtesy of Desigual.


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--Adam Tschorn