It turns out the costume maker is also a super cool blogger with an esty site!
This means two things: 1. You too can own a Wonder Woman (or other super cool super hero) costume. 2. I had to talk to her in order to learn more about this Literary Assassin.
Luckily, she didn’t think I was too much of a freak show when I sent her an e-mail that was basically, “Hi. My boyfriend bought the Wonder Woman costume from you. I think you are cool and I want to interview you on my quirky blog. Here are ten questions. Are you in?”
Ok, well maybe she thought I was a freak show, but she played anyway and here we go…
1. How did you get into the superhero costume creation niche?
Back in 2001 I was dating a guy who was really into Batman, so I accompanied him to a lot of comic shops. Terry Dodson happened to be drawing Harley Quinn’s title at that time and I just fell in love with the art in those books, the design of Harley’s costume, and the loopy way she viewed the world: it was a synthesis of all those things. I was already a somewhat competent stitcher, so I naively said, “I’m going to make that costume for Halloween.” It was the pits, of course. It was the first time I’d worked with spandex, and I was making up the pattern as I went along, so of course I made a lot of mistakes, wasted a lot of fabric. People are often horrified when they see how much I charge to make that costume, but that sucker is a LOT of work.
Still, the suit turned out even better than I’d expected, and in May of 2002 I wore it to ConQuest, the scifi/fantasy con in Kansas City. I should say, at that point I had no real concept of Harley’s significance in the DC universe or how popular she was with fans. When I walked into the ballroom at the Con the audience just roared–it was completely exhilarating. After the pictures of that costume hit the Internet I had total strangers writing to me, begging me to make them a costume or at least tell them how to make the hood. I made a few costumes for people, grossly underpaying myself for my time, and eventually got smart and put the pattern up for sale. Since I’ve been on Etsy my business has just bloomed. Being part of that venue makes me seem respectable, and people feel free to ask me about doing commissioned work. Etsy is awesome–in the last two years it’s become *the* internet place to shop and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.
2. I understand you are into martial arts. If I’m going to wear the costume, are there any moves you would recommend I learn?
I think any babe in a superhero costume has a right and a responsibility to defend herself. For the most part fans are very polite and respectful but there are always one or two lugnuts with nonfunctioning body radar who will invade your personal space.
There are several body-language techniques you can use to keep the crowd at a respectful distance–a long cool stare, squared-off shoulders, and both feet planted firmly. This posture has the benefit of not only conveying bad-assitude, but also looking good in pictures.
However, should some lugnut misread your vivacity for a come-on and swoop in for a hug, simply show him the hand. When he lunges for you, extend your palm toward his face or chest in the classic “HALT!” gesture. Maintain eye contact. Cock an eyebrow, if you like. Say, “I’d rather not, thank you.” He will then back away, grovelling and babbling apologies. Ignore him. Resume looking cool and gorgeous.
Should all else fail, employ this move:
3. What inspires you when you are working on a costume?
a) A good design. Obviously this is subjective but I like costumes that are not only flattering but intrinsic to the character somehow, and which have a smidgen of real-world plausibility. The Catwoman costume from “HUSH” was a great one, with the knee pads, goggles and lug-soled boots. Harley’s is great, too–her costume is so indicative of her personality. And right now I’m really keen on Zatana–it’s that whole stage-persona masking her genuine power.
b) A challenge. If I’m going to do a costume it’s great if I love it but even better if it’s something new I get to try. Last weekend at Planet Comicon I had a guy ask if I could make him the Flash, and I was on that concept like white on rice. I would love to do more designs for guys.
4. How much of my cellulite is going to hang out of this thing and what would you recommend I do to help this situation?
It’s strange but you never see Wonder Woman or Power Girl struggling with cellulite or razor burn…. Many costumers opt to wear nude-colored tights or nylons beneath their briefs, for warmth and/or modesty. I can find no fault with this logic–just try to find a pair that aren’t too shiny.
5. I understand you spend a great deal of time in the kitchen. I do too, but it sometimes doesn’t turn out so well. What would you cook for Wonder Woman and why?
I strongly suspect that Wonder Woman follows the Mediterranean diet. Serve something simple, like boneless chicken cutlets pan-seared with olive oil and plenty of herbs; accompany with a spinach salad, some feta, figs, olives; maybe a side of hummus and pita and a little wine.
6. As you know, my boyfriend picked this costume for me, but if someone were to ask you, “which super hero should I dress up as?” how would you advise them?
I find that many people have a character with which they identify strongly but they’re too shy to say. Often I hear “Oh, I’d love to be so-and-so but I don’t have the body for it.” What I do in that case is try to recontextualize the character–break down what the client likes about the character, analyze where they plan to wear the costume, and try to incorporate significant elements into a look that will be recognizable, and with which the client will feel comfortable. For instance, the first year I did Harley I talked a friend of mine into being Poison Ivy. She flat-out refused to walk around in tights and a bodysuit, so I made her a sort of Peter Pan suit out of green taffeta, with a bustier–it was Ivy in evening wear. And people totally got it.
I’ve noticed a trend in recent years toward *interpreting* a look rather than duplicating it religiously–Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies have a great deal to do with this, as does the Steampunk movement– and I think fans are flexible about not requiring an iconic look in costuming. They love a clever visual surprise or satirical twist: for instance a “big, beautiful Wonder Woman” is completely acceptable. As long as the person in the costume has the attitude and puts in the work on their concept and execution, they can carry off anything.
7. What costumes are you currently working on?
Elektra, in the classic red one-shoulder ninja costume. I’m redesigning my Catwoman hood because I’m not yet happy with it. And I’ve got the materials to make an Adam West-style Batman cowl but that’s still on the back burner.
8. What is one tip you would offer someone about costuming as a superhero?
Invest in good underwear.
9. How could I do you proud when I wear my Wonder Woman costume?
Work it, girlfriend! Square your shoulders, toss back the mane and flash the pearly whites! (And I’ll send you some business cards to hand out.)
10. If you could make only one super hero costume for yourself, who would it be and why?
Catwoman, absolutely. I’ve always liked the character, and I’m glad she’s finally got a semi-respectable costume. She’s a loner by nature. She’s capable of connecting with others but she’s very self-sufficient, emotionally and financially. She doesn’t get wrapped up in the morality gloom that haunts the big-boy heroes; she’s a pragmatist. She’s also a bit of a hedonist, and doesn’t apologize for that. At least, that’s my inkblot and I’m sticking to it.
Well we totally bought it, Holly. Thank you for the great words of inspiration. I encourage all of my readers to go out and find their inner super hero…and then get Holly to make you the costume.
P.S. Holly. I owe you measurements, but last night I pigged out on the sushi train with DD Girl (I’m not speaking for her as to whether or not she pigged out. I can only represent myself.) so I wasn’t feeling much like measuring myself. I will try to restrain my eating tonight, or at least measure myself after my run.