I’ve never had a clear answer to the get-to-know-you question ‘what’s your favorite holiday?’ until now. It’s so obviously Mardi Gras! I grew up with the Mardi Gras, I know how to hang at a parade, I’ve made bead crafts my whole life, I tramp around the Quarter with friends on St Anne’s, and I thought I knew what it was about.
In true Mardi Gras voodoo fashion, I was called. A friend connected me to his Krewe, Jason and I quickly re-arranged our travel plans, and our local network helped us make it happen. The world is what I make, and making costumes for one of my favorite parades felt like destiny.
AND THEN Jason and I were asked to be guardians! We would wear our official tee shirts and act as support as our drunken Krewe careened for miles through the French Quarter. My job was to be a buffer between the marchers and our jazz band, so I got to hear the great music and laugh with the Krewe all night. And of course, offer some 5 star level costume support.
You can see me on the bottom right, furiously hot gluing as we prepare to roll. Costume designer gets it done! I’ve never worked so close to my deadline before, even with Burning Man; I’ve never asked for help before, and I look back at the whole project with pride, relief, and gratitude.
Miss Pink Mess above is the Spirit of Roman Candy (basically a taffy stick sold in Audubon Zoo). The Senator! He requested a two-piece toga, which is basically a toga shirt worn over a toga skirt. The toga layer is worn over his gold long-sleeve and pants (worn over thermals).
I made his costume too: tunic, toga wrap, and wreath. The wrap is lined for comfort, so he can wear it for Red Dress Run and not worry about sparkly chafing!
If you’re still suffering with post-Mardi Gras post-Lent blues, check out this great video my husband made of our night.
One of the key players in my 2016 Mardi Gras work was LEWD co-captain Drew. Not only did he help me connect with the Krewe, he also ordered his own custom costume. He was smitten by Malcolm McDowell’s fresh little outfit, and I knew I could up the ante Mardi Gras style.
Drew’s costume consisted of the gold shirt and pant layers, gold tunic, snap-on silver cape, sword skirt, and the laurel wreath made from fleur de lis. Quite a kit! I try to make each piece interchangeable, so that instead of being a particular costume, it’s part of an overall costume wardrobe. Cause we like to party, and the party is always weirder when there are costumes!
Complimentary and independent couple costume (see shots of Lady LEWD here). I’ve had so much fun with this gang since Mardi Gras!
My favorite part of this costume was the sword skirt. I glued Mardi Gras beads onto felt-backed glitter foam, and the proportions and placement makes me laugh every time.
The plan was to head back to California in early January, but luckily plans aren’t forever. Through the help of many friends, I was able to stay in my city and contribute my own art to my favorite time of year.
I landed a dream gig designing costumes for LEWD, a sub-krewe of Krewe du Vieux (considered the start of parade season and a spectacle of weird and raunchy satire). For KdV’s 30th year, the theme was XXX and my group’s float was CaliguNOLA (or: The Fall of the NOLAn Empire). Over three weeks and an inconvenient illness, I designed and sewed nine costumes for that parade. I was working around the clock, even called in my crafty lovelies Maria and Patrick for last-minute help, and was hot gluing LED wreaths at the Den as the parade gathered. It was exhausting and exhilarating, and I can’t wait to do it again.
One of my favorite creations for the parade is Lady LEWD, a Medusa / Godiva hybrid with a thrilling laugh and a lot of sass.
The gold spandex bodysuit has sparkly pink nipples and a luxurious bush, and is topped with a sheer red sequin gown. This hot momma decorated her own mask, and was accompanied by her Golden God of a husband and her delightful snakey sisters. She rocked the night!
Thank you to Gus and Jason for getting such great photos. Check out more photos from Krewe du Vieux on Where Y’at!
Just before leaving LA last fall, I made another batch of outfits for the indie music group Freedom Fry. We used the same basic shapes as our first outfits, since those silhouettes flatter and the fit is accurate.
Once again, Marie’s former career as a thorough stylist was evident. She pre-washed the fabrics, paired them with notions, and attached sketches with reference photos for each variation. She effectively communicates the aesthetic she wants, and I am able to apply my own design ideas and craftsmanship. It feels like we’re really in sync, and I love being able to help this band evolve more fully into themselves.
All fabrics came from Michael Levine. The outfits above and below are both quilting cottons. Of course the adorable dog matches the home. Did I mention Marie is a stylist? Total respect for this lady’s design execution.
These white outfits turned out to be my favorite from the group. The fabric is a loose weave cotton-linen blend, and I used the raw selvage throughout both garments. Marie’s dress has an attached poncho with a plunging neckline to keep the look young.
Their home was the perfect setting for our informal photo-shoot, and really brought their outfits to life. I love working with this couple!
For this slice of New Orleans life, we’re living upstairs from my old apartment. My best friends Maria and Patrick are in the other upstairs apartment, and we have breakfast together on our back porch. Soon after our arrival, Maria told me about a dream in which she found a nest of baby alligators, and they were all pink. It’s such a charming swamp discovery. And so: fanny pack!
I used glitter vinyl, one of my favorite materials. The baby gator was cut with an exacto, carefully sewn, and the edges were finished with puff paint. I used puff paint for the teeth and claws too.
Such meticulous puff painting! I practice almost every night. I omitted the planned eyes, because this magic alligator sees through dream visions, of course.
I really love these findings! The metal parachute clasp is so smooth and shiny, and I love the durability of a brass zipper. The piping is reflective plastic, given to me years about by Patrick. The sides and backing are a metallic printed denim, and the lining is waterproof rip-stop nylon.
There’s a zipper pocket with contrast lining, as well as a slim pocket for ID. Enough pockets to keep your gear safe and accessible, but still easy to look through in a dark party.
It was a lot of fun to make, and since we share a studio space and live in adjoining apartments it was hard to keep secret! But I managed to keep it together.