Home Editorial Fashion Fashion Editorial: Cirque de la Tristesse
Fashion Editorial: Cirque de la Tristesse

Fashion Editorial: Cirque de la Tristesse



  • Photographer Nadja Ellinger
  • Light Aljoscha Gleser Assistant Stefanie Heinzeller
  • Make up Dolly @ Dollys World of Makeup & Noleen Sliney
  • Muses: Marisa Kurz @ S Models, Aloisia (Lichtfuchs) & Jasmin (Ita – it’s art!)

The basic ideal for the shooting was the concept of a circus. But contrary to the common understanding, we decided to show a sad and lonely circus. For me the circus is a world of its own, which almost became an anachronism in modern times. Our circus family is lost in an old, bygone world, feeling lonely and futile.  I started by seeing the circus as an own, sad microcosm. For being able to quickly transfer the viewer into that world, I collected moods to determine what people connect with the circus theme. I chose to start a search for a real circus as a shooting location. Due to the winter not many of them were actually on tour. None of them wanted to provide us their tent for a small budget. So we tried to create a circus atmosphere in our studio. For archiving this, we used accessories’, light, colors and the poses of the models. So we were able to convert a blank and neutral studio room into an actual circus.

I decided taking three different model types. The first one was for the white clown. In the clown hierarchy he is the smartest but also the saddest, which made him fit perfectly in our concept. He understands the paradoxical situation of life and is disappointed by the situation itself. My model of choice for this role was Marisa, because of her capability of fulfilling it very expressive. The second role was the ringmaster. The ringmaster is strong, a dominant yet inapproachable and lonely. The model Jasmin represented her with her present but also very feminine appearance. The third role is the artiste. She is a melancholic circus girl and the most thoughtful character of the family. I chose the model Aloisia for that role because of her tendernes.

For the color design we used a strip light. We turned it red for supporting the dominant and powerful personality of the ringmaster, and turned it blue for the clown and the artiste, showing their sad character. The blue light also helped us visualize the sad aspect of the ringmaster

I could win Dolly from “Dollys World of Make Up” to do the make-up. Being asked about her inspiration she wrote:

 “When we first talked with Nadja about the idea and the concept of the shooting i thought of colors! For me Circus is a combination of Romance, Colorful Lights and Impressive Costumes! The main inspiration of this shooting comes from my childhood, so i tried to express the emotions i had with my make-up. I would like to thank one more time Nadja for having me on her team and my wonderful assistant Noleen Sliney!”

The white clown wore a corset and a skirt from “Tian van Tastique”. The white wig is a tribute to the white clowns’ typical hat.  The artiste was very feminine, girlish character. This was supported through a skirt and pink lace cloth. This outfit was contributed by Aloisia herself. For the ringmaster we borrowed two costumes, a frock and a tailcoat, from “Vestimentum Gewanddesign”. Both garments looked very similar to classical circus clothing. We didn’t want to display the ringmaster to masculine, so we combined the garments with long stockings and a long blonde wig.

We shot many group and pair pictures to show the relationship between the families. Because of this, the poses also describe a relation between the other characters and the accessories. It was important they represent the emotional condition and the feelings of the different characters, so for me my models were more like actors trying to act out their roles.  During the light setting, I was supported by Aljoscha. We decided to use a very hard, vectored light, imitating the spot light in a circus ring. We accentuated it by using the colored strip light. So we wanted to come up with the colorfulness of an actual circus. During the shoot we got a lot of help from my fellow student and assistant Stephi, helping wherever possible.

The post production in Photoshop manly consisted of a small beauty-retouch and an accentuation of the highlights. Despite that I mostly corrected small scratches or dust particles. The picture itself was not changed in a mayor way.   At this point, I’d like to thank my team. They all participated with dedication, and showed the best of their talents. And all for making our little circus story possible and bringing the idea to life.


  • 2: rosé dress: Vintage black tailcoat and hat: vestimentum gewanddesign body and stockings: vintage corsett and skirt tian van tastique
  • 3: frock: vestimentum gewanddesign dress: vintage
  • 4: corsett and skirt: tian van tastique
  • 5: dress: vintage
  • 6: corsett and skirt: tian van tastique tailcoat and hat: vestimentum gewanddesign body and stockings: vintage
  • 7: frock and hat: vestimentum gewanddesign
  • 8: hat: vestimentum gewanddesign body and stockings: vintage
  • 9: corsett and skirt tian van tastique
  • 10: hat and dress: vintage
  • 11: corsett: tian van tastique
  • 12: hat and dress: vintage