Jean Eden: a designer for the circus

by Pascal Jacob

Jean Eden was born in Florence in 1924. He initially worked in an insurance company, but after a few years his love of travel, writing and drawing led him to devote his life to creation.


 He sat as a model, notably for a monumental sculpture that adorned the main room in the city hall of the 1st arrondissement in Paris. His mastery of drawing opened the way to the fashion world, and he began to design models for several haute couture houses, producing numerous sketches for Carven, Lanvin, Nina Ricci, Balenciaga and Chanel.

Eden was captivated by the performing arts, and designed costumes for several companies. These included the Rancy Circus, the Pauwes family, the Rech Circus and the Alexis Grüss old-style circus, from its early days at the Carré Thorigny-Silvia Monfort in late 1974 to the 1984-1985 season of the Grüss National Circus and the show entitled Les Forains, "a tribute to the barkers". He notably designed the magnificent Mongolian-inspired costume for Stephan Grüss's archery act on horseback. For the Pauwels Circus, he created the costumes for the 1986 pantomime Robin des Bois et les saltimbanques (Robin Hood and the Acrobats), designing a gallery of characters embodied by highly subtle pastel-toned costumes.

He was also very interested in fur, endlessly exploring this singular material, for which he constantly sought to create new forms. The simplicity of his clean, pure and sober line reflected the elegance of his models, where he strove to let the personality of certain mannequins shine through, like the face of Carmen Dell'Orefice, considered one of his muses.

A collector fascinated by the world of Christmas and above all the circus, Jean Eden built up a magnificent collection of posters, prints and photographs on this theme, which was sold at his death for the benefit of the association Secours Populaire.

A tireless creator, he never stopped designing models, which ranged from hundreds of glove models to an ever-inspired wardrobe: all milestones in a career spanning several decades.