Make-believe becomes reality in Columbia More than 300 costumers at 'show and tell' session.


Angelique Trouvere was about one week and 800 miles off from Mardi Gras.

But, as she paraded about in white netting, lace and beads with a Mae West pucker on her lips and a Madonna swagger, the comic book store sales clerk from Norfolk, Va., looked as if she could have won first prize on Bourbon Street.

But what about the "Alien Nation" look-alikes from Lincoln, Neb.? the California woman strutting in a show-stopping peacock feathered dress? Or the king and queen of the spider court whose red, purple and black costumes required 240 yards of netting to make?

All together, these costumes lent a carnival atmosphere to the lobby of the Columbia Inn where the third day of the annual Costume Con 9 convention produced a spectacular show yesterday.

More than 300 people from all over the country attended the convention to show off their costuming techniques and to attend seminars that instructed them how to make more elaborate outfits for next year's conference, which is to be in Nebraska.

The amateur designers have contributed fashions for the movie "Glory" and many serve as living history lecturers. They also love to let their imaginations go and often come up with attire that is as outrageous as it is expressive.

Consider a "futuristic" Tammy Faye Bakker, as portrayed by Leslie Johnston, a data base specialist for the Getty Museum in Santa Monica, Calif. Johnston was dressed in black chiffon and green taffeta spider web and her elaborate rendition also included a Gideon Bible.

"This is not a fantasy life but a different creative outlet -- a chance for people to see parts of me that they wouldn't ordinarily see," said Kris Curling, a pressman for the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk who was dressed in a shiny gold space suit copied from the movie, "The Man Who Fell to Earth."

Curling's creation looked authentic thanks to a few items borrowed from the newspaper's pressroom as well as a small battery-operated fan that served as a mock oxygen tank.

Then there were the aliens from Nebraska, who spent $300 on red and blue satin wedding costumes that they designed from an episode of the television series "Alien Nation." Their makeup was so perfect that they looked as if they had just dropped in from outer space for a quick fashion show.

"This is our art," said Pierre Pettinger, the male alien and a retail executive in real life. "We made our costumes and quilted them from scratch. We love costuming. There aren't enough places to dress up in this world."

Perhaps the most stunning costume was the "Queen's Feather Dress" designed by 7-year-old Eleanor Martz, of San Jose, Calif., and worn by Daron Martinez-Byrne of Norco, Calif.

With more than 1,000 feathers of blue, turquoise and purple and accented with peacock feathers, Martinez-Byrne walked through the gawking crowd very carefully with her arms outstretched to balance the three-foot wings and large headpiece.

"Mom was bugging me to make a design, so I did," explained Martz, of her creation that won a certificate for best feathered costume of the afternoon.

The costume fanatics displayed their creations throughout the weekend from historical, fantasy, science fiction and re-creation categories. They took video tapes of each other and took snapshots of the unique garb for future ideas and memories.

"Halloween is not just one day of the year for us," said Amanda Allen, 32, of Calvert County, who was dressed in a lavender Victorian hooped dress with a Bo Peep bonnet. "I'm wearing this because I love romance and the idea of being in love with a gentler age where women were greated courteously and men had manners."

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad