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Heroes & Sheroes event honors costume designer Ruth E. Carter

When and where: Friday night at the Heinz History Center, Strip District.

What does it take to be one of the best parties of the year? Positive energy, and there was plenty of it during the opening night gala to celebrate the work of acclaimed costume designer Ruth E. Carter, whose most recent film was Marvel’s “Black Panther.” Guests were greeted at the door by an African drum circle before being led into the cocktail hour, where they had a chance to meet Ms. Carter before the retrospective reveal. The visionary behind the event, Demeatria Boccella, is one of the true #Sheroes of Pittsburgh, always looking to elevate the city with inspiring things to see and do. “Passion gets ahead of me,” she said, striking as always in a royal blue asymmetrical dress and red suede boots. “Ruth’s work is such an inspiration, and when I saw ‘Black Panther,’ I knew I had to celebrate this woman.” Added Andy Masich, CEO and president of the Heinz History Center: “This is so special to have this world premiere featuring the work of the greatest designer of black cinema.” The excitement was palpable as Ms. Carter prepared to unveil the exhibit to guests — and inspire young people. “She doesn’t know yet, but we are presenting her with a proclamation to make Aug. 24 Ruth E. Carter Day,” said James Hill, executive assistant to Mayor Bill Peduto. “This is just so impressive to have this here, and we hope to work with the History Center so that every public school in Pittsburgh can be inspired by this woman and her achievements.”

Andy Masich, Ruth E. Carter and Demeatria Boccella at the opening night party of

And now a moment with … Ruth E. Carter:

What inspires you as a costume designer? I love to tell stories. Costume design is different from fashion design because you have a very specific muse. You have characters that need to have their stories told through what they wear and why.

Why was “Black Panther” a very exciting story to tell? This was an opportunity to help shape a superhero film through the lens of black culture and African culture. The continent is such a vast resource of inspiration, and so I used this as a gift. What would the world be like in the future? What could it be like? The possibility of this truly moved me to dream.

When Demeatria Boccella approached you about displaying the costumes from “Black Panther” in Pittsburgh, what was your reaction?I thought, ‘We can do even better!’ I had been collecting my costumes from films like “Malcolm X,” “Selma” and “Roots” for more than 35 years, so I can give you those for a retrospective.

What do you hope people take away from this exhibit? I hope that they learn what a costume designer does. I hope little girls and boys come to this exhibit and realize that they can tell stories through clothes, that you can create art through costumes and inspire others.

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Wolverine’s new costume is another in a long line of looks

Image Source: Marvel Digital Comics

Recently Marvel introduced Wolverine’s new costume for Return of Wolverine. It’s actually the cover for Return of Wolverine issue #2. It’s a new look for Logan. Some fans won’t be happy with it. However, there is hope for those of you who don’t like it. This isn’t the first time Logan has dawned a new costume. Wolverine has been all over the world and has been on a plethora of teams throughout his long tenure on Earth and beyond. He’s had more wardrobe changes than a model on a runway. I thought it would be a cool idea to take a trip down memory lane and look at some of Logan’s more iconic uniform changes.

Wolverine made his debut at the end of Incredible Hulk #180 in 1974 while Hulk was fighting the Wendigo. The first thing people will notice is the mask. For the love of Odin, we can all be happy the whiskers never stayed. Even with this being the 70’s that mask only lasted two issues. When Wolverine joined the X-Men they kept the color scheme as well as the red belt. The mask now had longer “ears” and the eye-holes were blanked out white. There have been multiple changes to this color scheme. In Astonishing X-Men, the color scheme and shoulder pads stayed the same and added a belt with the X-Men logo on it. In Uncanny X-Men #500 Wolverine added lines to his boots and gloves and the X-Men “X” over his heart.

In Uncanny X-Men #139, Wolverine randomly had a new costume. Nightcrawler asked Logan why the costume changed and Logan answered like only he would, “Why not?” This is one of the few costumes that never changes as time goes on. Same old school design complete with red belt. Logan put this costume away for a long time and only picked it up again after House of M. Wolverine set out looking for revenge and didn’t want to use the colors he wears when he’s with the X-Men (Wolverine Origin). Even then, he stopped wearing the uniform after a while. Logan eventually buries the costume for good and moves away from this part of his life.

Image Source: Marvel Digital Comics

There was a time when Cyclops decided to be more proactive. He put together a team of the X-Men’s best fighters and trackers to take care of threats to mutants before they could kill them. Cyclops assembled Wolverine, Warpath, Wolfsbane, and X-23. Later Archangel, Domino, and Vanisher would join this roster (later, another team that added Deadpool, Fantomex, Deathlok, and Psylocke to there roster). The X-Men don’t kill and they weren’t the X-Men. They were X-Force.

This costume looked like the classic costumes, but this one was black and grey with red eyes. The look was supposed to be both stealthy and intimidating. They also had to look as far away from the X-Men as possible. If this was the case, why they kept the “X” on the belt I’ll never know. This is one of the fan favorites when it comes to Logan’s attire.

For those of you who may not know, the uniforms used in the movie were actually used in the comic books. The X-Men switched from their bright costumes to black leather. Wolverine loved these uniforms. In fact, when Cyclops announced they were going back, Wolverine wasn’t happy. Cyclops said all the leather made people scared. Logan liked them because he didn’t look like an idiot (his words). Honestly, what looks worse, the leather or the tights?

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Repurpose Closet Staples With This A+ Nerd Couple’s Halloween Costume

If you haven’t noticed, we LOVE Halloween over here. While we’re *all* for going above and beyond, sometimes turning to your own closet is the best — and easiest — way to get in the spirit. This nerdy couple’s costume idea does just that. Dust off your favorite old sweaters and button downs then put your pattern-clashing skills to the test. The bolder and goofier the ensemble, the better! There’s no way to go wrong with this A+ costume. Scroll below to see how we get it done.


Materials + Tools:

puffy sleeve button-up shirt
gingham sweater vest
children’s suspenders
tweed skirt
aviator sunglasses
fringe earrings

1. Bust out the frames of the glasses.

2. Use children’s suspenders to get the high-waisted look.

3. Style hair in a high sock bun and accentuate it with a thin headband.

4. Top off with a pair of neutral pink fringe earrings or anything over-the-top. Bonus points if they are clip-ons!


Boy Nerd

Materials + Tools:

puffy sleeve button-up shirt
four different plaid shirts
bold suspenders
high waisted/skinny pants
aviator sunglasses
crazy socks

1. Put on your base shirt.

2. Cut off the right front portion on another shirt, and hot-glue it over the right of the base shirt.

3. Do the same with another shirt for the left side.

4. Remove the pocket of your fourth shirt and apply to the sides of the base shirt.

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Wreck-It Ralph 2 Is Already Breaking the Internet With Genius Halloween Costume Inspiration

Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 may not premiere until Nov. 21, but it looks like the highly anticipated sequel is already inspiring genius cosplay outfits and Halloween costume ideas. The forthcoming film recently released a teaser image showing one of the main characters, Vanellope von Schweetz, hanging out with a handful of Disney’s most famous female characters, including Ariel, Moana, Anna, Elsa, and Tiana. In the sneak peek, all of the princesses have completely new looks, as they swapped their usual dresses for more laid-back outfits. Elsa from Frozen is lounging in a light-blue sweatshirt that reads “Just let it go” in big white text, while Mulan rocks a red bomber jacket and Anna wears a flannel shirt.

Needless to say, Disney movie fans were ridiculously excited to see their favorite leading ladies in totally different outfits — so much so that cosplay fanatics immediately started using them as fodder for brilliant costumes. Read on to see a few of the best examples we’ve seen on Instagram so far (plus some Vanellope-inspired looks, too!) if you’re looking for a Halloween costume that’s capable of, ahem, breaking the internet.

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How a Stop-Motion Costume Designer Makes Tiny Clothing for the Big Screen

Whether they’re making spot-on ’80s period clothing or producing hundreds of detailed, Afrofuturistic outfits, costume designers regularly pull off staggering creative feats. But Deborah Cook’s job is uniquely challenging. As head of the 25-person costume department at Laika, the Oregon-based stop-motion studio behind movies like Coraline, ParaNorman, and Kubo and the Two Strings, Cook makes clothing for characters no taller than a pencil.


Crafting miniature clothing is one thing, but engineering tiny costumes for character models that need to crouch, sit, and run frame by frame — costumes that will then be blown up on a movie theater screen, showcasing all of their details and flaws — is another skill set entirely. Making a yellow rain slicker for Coraline isn’t as simple as sewing an extra-extra-small coat; it’s also about rigging the garment with wires and weights to ensure that it hangs realistically on the puppet’s twig-like frame.

Because I don’t understand how anyone can make inch-long gloves or minuscule boots, I rang up Cook to learn about the time-intensive (albeit fabric-minimal) process of making costumes for the littlest movie stars.

To begin, how did you land at Laika?

I’ve been at Laika for around 12 years now. I came out here to work on Coraline and set up the costume department for Laika. I only intended to stay for three months, but I got addicted and couldn’t go home. I usually work on two to three of our films at a time, with one doing publicity, one shooting, and doing research and establishing all the characters’ personalities for the new one.

I went to art school at Central St. Martins in London. I studied sculpture, but a lot of my work was driven by fabric. During college, people approached me from the stop-frame world because of the level of detail I was working in. I could work with different materials, from armatures [the jointed metal skeletons that let characters move realistically] to sculpture, wigs, and costumes.

There weren’t that many stop-frame animation courses for people to do, and if there are now, they’re mainly geared toward educating animators, rather than all the other things that come into play in stop frame. [Doing stop-motion costumes] is not anything you can train for. A lot of people we hire have transferable skills.

What kinds of skills translate well to doing costumes for the figures used in stop-motion movies?

We have people who have been ceramicists or jewelers — jewelers lend themselves well to armature, and ceramicists can make 3D shapes with their hands and understand all aspects of a form, plus they work with pigments and make their own colors. Everything here is hand-dyed. Even though they might not have worked with fabrics, if you teach them pattern cutting, they can work with puppets.

Everyone brings something new to the table. We’re a melting pot of skills, and we have our own look. It’s detail-driven and beautiful to look at — very striking visually — and finding people with those transferable skills has empowered that appearance.

What does the process of creating miniature costumes look like?

I work from the outset with the director and character designer. Initially, I’ll break down the script. I read it as a story first; then I go through it and separate out each character and each listed costume, trait, and description and put it all under their character headings. Break it down.

Then I list the items I’m looking for that help imbue character with personality. We’ll make huge mood boards — I have a big workspace with all the boards set up — and massive spreadsheets. You start to build the personality of the character and narrative: how it will change over the course of the film, who they’re seen with, and how that informs the story at that moment. If they become more upbeat or confident, or if they’ve literally been brawling and need to be roughed up, or they’re having a celebration, it commands a costume change. We work all of that out at the beginning, then work toward their costume. It’s a lot of research and legwork initially.

Then we go into color scripting, how the palette will pass through the whole thing. Color and texture have so much power and so much language that people warm to. I think our films are fairly tactile-looking. To me, anyway, it looks like you could crawl into the world because the materials are familiar. They’re not just drawn; they’re made and built. You can touch the fabric of the costumes; you can run your hands through foliage of forest.

What’s your starting point when making clothes for characters that small? A lot of them have these skinny little legs, like Coraline and Kubo — like, how do you make a pair of pants for them?

With our costumes generally, we look for particular properties in the material. We basically don’t use off-the-shelf fabrics. We’re using fabrics as a background to provide a structure that we can build surfaces on. You look for fabrics that have a little stretch in all directions, a little tooth on the surface because that keys the light — it gives the lighting technicians something to work with.

Sometimes we use the same fabrics across films. We hoard them and bring them back because they’ve served us so well. We can make them look totally different, but we know they have the durability we need over two and a half years of shooting and maybe two and a half years of development before that. And after that, our puppets have their own life where they do publicity events and press calls and travel the world and are handled by many more people for years to come. Durability is colossal. It’s way more important than with human clothes.

If we want something to look like jeans, we’ll look for a base fabric that would pass for denim in our scale. We work in one-to-six [model-to-real-life] scale. If you have a regular human-size piece of denim, it’ll hide the subtleties of their leg shape because it’s too heavy and big. The [figures’] joints are delicate, so the fabric has to be lightweight. If it’s too heavy, the puppet might move out of position.

The fabric is extremely lightweight, with backings or wires that help the armature support the costume. It’s a collaboration with [the team] building our puppets. We need to meet in the middle. We don’t just do our work and pass it off. If we know what the puppet will be wearing at the outset, we can build the puppet underneath so that there are no wonky moves.

If you think of something that’s the height of a pencil, which is the height of one of our characters, even the thinnest fabric won’t look like it has the right weight and gravity. So you need to make it super heavy on the bottom of the hems so it looks right for the scale.

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Break a Sweat on Halloween With These 7 Costumes You Can Totally Work Out In

Halloween isn’t just for kids. In fact, the festive holiday is arguably more fun for adults: clever costume ideas, spiked witch’s brew, and, of course, you can still eat candy. And costumes shouldn’t just be limited to themed parties and walking your kids around to trick-or-treat; get festive in the gym with some athleisure-inspired Halloween costumes.

Halloween Costumes For the Gym

As more and more gyms celebrate Halloween, people are encouraged to dress up and get festive for their workouts. But it’s pretty difficult to deadlift when you’re wearing a Jessica Rabbit gown and heels. Here are some athletic costume ideas to get you inspired for the spookiest time of the year. Not only do these look clever, but you can still jump, squat, lift, and row in these comfortable get-ups.

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These Halloween Costumes Are the Perfect Mix of Scary and Cute

For those purists who really get into the Halloween spirit — the spookiness, the mysteries, the old wives’ tales, and the superstitions — you may be inclined to dress up as something classically “Halloween” that incorporates the creepy side of the holiday. More blood, less puns. However, there’s looking scary, and then there’s looking like Cady Heron in her “ex wife” costume. Sometimes you want something in between — not overtly sexy, but not scream inducing.

We rounded up some costume ideas that hit that sweet spot of being both scary and cute. From witches to devils and some creative spooky costumes in between, keep reading to find your perfect Halloween costume.

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‘Mrs. Maisel’s’ costumes swing, pop and dazzle — all by design

Amy Sherman-Palladino didn’t have to do a whole lot of explaining when she first met costume designer Donna Zakowska to brief her on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Zakowska, who previously won an Emmy for the American Revolution drama “John Adams,” instantly grokked the wardrobe requirements for Sherman-Palladino’s 1958 period piece about an Upper West Side housewife-turned-Greenwich Village stand-up comedian.

“It was instant chemistry,” Zakowska recalls. “Even before we spoke about specific garments, Amy was very interested in the cultural aspects of this period. Being a native New Yorker, I understood the divide that existed between Uptown and Downtown. We talked about how the clothes could be a bit heightened because the show is almost like a musical. The clothes needed to reinforce that feeling, which meant I would be doing a lot with color.”

Zakowska grew up in Brooklyn with a family matriarch who shared Mrs. Maisel’s marvelous eye for color matching. “My late mother was an accessories master!” Zakowska says, speaking from New York amid Season 2 production of the Amazon Prime series. “When I went through her clothing after she died, every single box of shoes had a pair of stockings in it, like pale pink or pale green, that matched the color of the shoes.”

As portrayed by Rachel Brosnahan, Midge Maisel may seem unbelievably well put together by contemporary standards, but Zakowska points out that her meticulous ensembles reflect the way regular New Yorkers actually dressed six decades ago.

“There really was this heightened sense of accessorizing and color accents in people’s wardrobes during the late ’50s, and Midge is all about that,” Zakowska notes. “She’s all about presentation, and it was the same kind of thing with Joan Rivers, where you wonder, ‘How did this housewife end up doing stand-up?’ The way they presented themselves was very important, and there was a lot of fine-tuning involved.”

To develop Midge Maisel’s personal style, Zakowska researched eye-popping color combinations featured in Vogue magazines of the period. She also looked to chic movie star Audrey Hepburn and midcentury fashion titans Hubert de Givenchy, Christian Dior and Jacques Fath as beacons of sophisticated urban couture.

“For five or six years, fashion in the ’50s reached incredible heights and really became like sculptures,” Zakowska says. “It was a real celebration of the female form.” Midge’s billowing pink swing coat, for example, makes an unabashedly big statement. “When the woman moves, the swing coat moves with them, and that’s very much a part of the ’50s,” she says. “As you get into the ’60s, everything closes in a bit. That wilder, more open, free-spirit of the swing coat is perfect for what we wanted to do with Midge’s character and very particular to that period.”

The show’s profusion of immaculate outfits dazzle as sheer spectacle, but Zakowska also makes sure that her clothes serve the story. In a three-minute (Episode 4) montage unspooled to the tune of Barbra Streisand’s “Happy Days Are Here Again,” Midge goes through four ensembles created from scratch by Zakowska and her crack team of New York City tailors.

“We trace the whole arc of Midge’s relationship with her husband,” Zakowska says. “When they move into their new apartment, she’s in this beautiful pink silk dress. Then she’s carried through the door in the pale blue dress, which I call her Marie Antoinette look. I actually used a little headdress from my mother for Midge’s hat. The New Years Eve party, we put her in the green dress, and then we go to the final shot, where she’s standing in this empty apartment. The silhouette becomes much straighter as a way of lending gravitas to her mood in that moment. Midge had the happy home and suddenly there’s this void.”

Midge eventually starts spending more time in Greenwich Village with her gruff beatnik manager, Susie (Alex Borstein). Describing Susie’s jeans-and-newsboy cap dress code, Zakowska says, “There’s a little bit of Bob Dylan coming in there, a bit of Joan Baez, and you might see Pete Seeger wearing that kind of cap, which I think lends Susie a certain authority. I pulled elements from all of those characters to give Susie this masculine edge, in high contrast to Midge. That’s what makes their relationship so interesting.”

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Pet Costume Co. Secures Investment

Pet Krewe Inc., a New Orleans-based pet costume company, has secured an undisclosed amount of seed financing.

The round was led by Jimmy Roussel, president and CEO of the New Orleans Startup Fund. As part of the agreement, Roussel will join the company’s board of directors.

The company will use the funds to secure branded entertainment licenses, develop its in-house pet tech augmented reality component and bolster its marketing efforts.

Pet Krewe is led by Allison Albert, CEO, and Brittany Sobert, CDO. Starting in the fall of 2018, each costume will come with a comprehensive augmented reality component. Put simply, the augmented reality application will create an immersive digital world for consumers, according to company officials. In doing so, Pet Krewe seeks to increase both consumer engagement as well as brand equity.

Moving forward, Pet Krewe will continue to build on its foundational costume catalogue of mermaids, unicorns and lions with costumes for all shapes and sizes of dogs. Through investments in augmented reality, digital marketing and licensed brand marks, Pet Krewe will continue to scale its parade–all while retaining its core value of experiential inclusion, officials added.

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We’re Calling It Now: These Are the Most Popular Halloween Costumes For Kids This Year

Year after year, little ghosts, mummies, and witches run around screaming “Trick or treat!” as they wander through their neighborhoods carrying pumpkin-shaped candy buckets — but every year, there’s a slew of costumes that make everyone say, “Yup, expected as much,” for a different reason. Between all of the popular new movies, TV shows, books, and video games from the year, there are always a ton of new favorite characters to pretend to be each Oct. 31. From Fortnite characters to a select few trendy animals, we’re calling it now: the following costumes are going to be the most popular of the year.

Just be sure that if your child’s asking to dress in one of these costumes that they’re sure it’s the one they truly want — because shopping for a Halloween ensemble with indecisive kids is one of the worst parts of the holiday.