What’ll it be? Zombie, steampunk, binder full of women?
Terrifying, trendy or topical – expect a host of bizarre looks to be out on the town over the next few days as another Halloween descends over the Capital Region and costumiers power through their busy season.
Ned Lemley didn’t think a young customer had much of a chance at realizing his costume dreams when he stepped into Langham Court Theatre’s costume loft hoping to step out clad as Louis XIV. But it turns out a fleur-de-lis cape and a few accessories from loft’s extensive collection of period garments added up to just the look for which the teen was striving.
“The next thing I knew, around from the dressing room comes this lad and it was just great,” said Lemley from the tightly-packed loft above the Rockland neighbourhood theatre.
Among the loft manager’s other most memorable customers: a young man who satisfied his desire to transform into classic comedienne Lucille Ball when he picked out a red wig and dress from the collection, and a teen who rented a tunic in his quest to become a Spartan and later crafted himself a breast plate, greaves and a helmet from a disposable turkey roaster.
That Spartan costume is now one of the many Halloween DIY additions to the inventory.
The loft is the home of original creations of all kinds – where Victorian and Edwardian period wear is the speciality – but the occasional trends still float through. Last year was the season of the pirate, Lemley said, noting 2012’s shift toward more glam looks, including the steampunk craze.
The Langham collection has been built from more than 30 years of local theatre productions and community donations. But a costume isn’t necessarily mandatory for achieving a dramatic look.
“A lot more people are doing makeup, a theatrical sort of effect instead of putting a costume and being a witch or a vampire,” said Michael Bice, long-time employee of Murray’s Trick and Joke Shop. “They’re not being your classic Frankenstein or Wolf Man.”
Bice has noted an increased interest in death make-up and latex prosthetics, of which Murray’s carries a wide variety – a trend he attributes to Victoria’s love of the annual Zombie Walk.
At the popular Victoria Costumes on West Saanich Road, Charlotte Rennison’s clientele aren’t as set on becoming the undead.
“It’s the same thing that’s hot every year: super heroes and Star Wars,” Rennison said.
While Scooby-Doo, Cookie Monster and the Victorian-era sci-fi fun of steampunk are on the rise this year, looks inspired by George Lucas’ seven-film series remain the those most requested by both guys and girls, young and old.
Though Rennison – known around the city for her impersonations, including a notorious Lady Gaga April Fool’s Day hoax in 2010 – has been taking special orders and sewing custom costumes since the summertime, she says there’s more than enough stock left for all those Halloween revellers who are waiting until the last minute to don a new get-up.
Like Victoria Costumes, Disguise the Limit in Colwood has a several-thousand-piece collection, which includes all the standard superheroes and movie characters, as well as quirkier pieces added via special request each season.
Dusty Hughes, an employee clad in Peter Pan attire, delighted one customer by this year sewing her a custom “sexy viking,” though when it comes to her own Halloween night garb, she opts to sport the classic witch look each Oct. 31. The Queen of Hearts and Little Red Riding Hood top the list of most requested standards this season, she said.
“Disney’s a hit this time around,” she added.
And among Rennison’s most entertaining visitors to her store: a group of men who dressed as Mexican bumblebees of Saturday Night Live fame and a classic Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels-inspired Dumb & Dumber duo.
“I like people who get creative with it,” Rennison said.