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They may seem quaint and horribly rural, but the appeal of the circus has never quite disappeared. And, as Thom Browne recently reminded us, their influence is far from disappearing.

Taschen has just come out with a book that should be the perfect primer if you’re looking to brush up on your clowns. It’s called *The Circus, 1870-1950*, covering 80 years of traveling entertainment, complete with its own posters, stars and sense of style.

Because of its mobile lifestyle, the circus has always had its own addled kind of glamour, most successfully co-opted by Fellini (with Bob Dylan a close second), and now that mass media has effectively erased the traveling circus, nostalgia has added to the mystery. It’s no surprise that Thom Browne decided to take a whack at it. If anything, it’s surprising that more designers don’t try.

Also, it turns out clowns have always been terrifying.

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—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom