Costume College 2018 Recap: A Mixed Bag

 At the end of July I travelled to Los Angeles for the annual Costume College (a 4 day educational costuming conference). 

As always, it was lovely to see so many friends, colleagues, customers, and fans. I feel extremely blessed to have found this group of (650!) creative folks who get what we do. I have a lot of different friend circles within the large group of attendees, and it is really cool to be able to see them all in the same place over the course of a week. I have known some of these women for going on 15 years.  

I wore my 1770 Saque gown for the Gala, and re-styled my new Custom Wig Company wig. Carolyn (The Modern Mantua Maker) rocked a fabulous 1700 Mantua ensemble. I was so happy to see one of these in person, and I hope the style becomes more popular! Photo by Angela Burnley Trowbridge

The costumes on display this year were incredible. I feel like everyone was raising their personal bars, with lavish trimmings, beading, careful fit, meticulous details, and prop fabrication. I especially enjoyed seeing the array of interpretations of the “Royals” theme for the Gala. From Nefertiti to Amidala to Victoria to an actual Alien Queen. Amaaaazing! Here are some photos:

The Historical Belles! What a fun group.


Merja's gorgeous hand beaded Worth gown reproduction. She realized that she also fit with the Historical Belle theme!

Angela of Burnley & Trowbridge looking super cute in a 1780's gown made from the silk lutestring they carry in their shop

Angela, the queen of bling

These ladies were stunning! Had a serious Anne of Green Gables moment over those puffed sleeves. 

Natalie was a vision in her Victorian presentation gown. The details were amazing. 

How to take up space: Edwardian Style

Abby of American Duchess, looking absolutely smokin' in a Camille Clifford inspired ensemble. A bit of help provided by one of our S-Bend corsets.

I only taught two classes this year, which was the right choice. Both were well attended and had really good engagement and questions. I’m honestly shocked that so many people showed up for my measurements class at 9am the morning after the Gala! I kind of expected it to be empty!

Finally, one of the highlights of the trip occurred “off-site.”  I was kindly included in a small study trip to LACMA’s collection, arranged by Angela of Burnley & Trowbridge. You guys...I got to handle and examine these stays.

I made several discoveries and answered some questions for myself, and found yet more questions. That is for another post. Let’s just say I am very excited for the Corsetry symposium in Munich next month, where I will be able to talk through my observations with the real experts. 

Late night drinks on the patio with friends, chatting gown construction in the hot tub, hilarious dressing attempts, pizza parties in 18th century gowns...these are the moments that make Costume College really special, beyond the classes and networking. 

"Should we take cheesy Edwardian prom pictures?" "of course!" Goofing around with Taylor, photo by Angela Burnley Trowbridge. I loved Taylor's 1890's cycling ensemble, with hat by Frontier Millinery.

Now for the not-so-great...

This trip was right on the heels of the Jane Austen Festival in Kentucky (I was home for a grand total of 6 days in between). July was already a lot. I was really looking forward to some fun and relaxation. And then, by the end of Friday, I was sick. 

Many of us were suddenly ill with pretty intense respiratory symptoms. A lot of friends were popping allergy meds and DayQuil to try to deal with whatever it was. The air freshener scent in the hotel lobby and event spaces seemed to be cranked up to about 400%. Personally, I think the two are related, as I felt better any time I spent an hour or two outside. 

I still made a valiant attempt. I bruised a rib from sneezing too much in my S-bend corset! I missed all of Saturday’s classes and activities until the Gala. I’m really not good at being “on” when I am sick, so I kept to myself for most of the event. I missed a lot of friends and lovely costumes. Apologies if at any point I seemed distant or brushed you off—I was primarily trying to stay upright the whole weekend!

There were also a number of strange accidents and injuries during the event. It was kind of weird. Many of us were making jokes about Mercury in retrograde, but...well...

So all in all, it was a bit of a weird time this year. I'm looking forward to next year, though. I already have a (silly) Gala idea. And I would really love to bring Redthreaded to the vendor room. I really hope we're accepted!

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