Behind the mask
Costume designers at MVHS reveal what sets good Halloween costumes apart
With Halloween just around the corner, stores of all kinds have already started stocking shelves with costumes ranging from witches to superheroes. While buying a costume is a perfectly acceptable option, many people want to try their hand at making a costume by scratch. Though designing the perfect Halloween costume seems like an intimidating task, according to three MVHS costume-designers, there are a many easy ways to make an impressive costume.
Click through the story to find out more about these three designers’ experience with costumes, their process and what they believe are the elements need to help good costumes stand apart.
Sophomore Kevin Sun first began designing costumes at the age of 13, when he helped his mother, who teaches at an after-school program at Trust Montessori School in San Jose, create the costumes and sets for the children’s summertime drama performance of “Wizard of Oz.” Though he initially just helped touch up costumes that were already made, he later began learning from his mother how to use a sewing machine and create original clothing as the years went by.
“We would just buy clothing at like Goodwill or borrow clothing, and I would sew on different designs or I would adjust them so they would fit to the character if there was a specific need,” Sun said. “For example, for Mary Poppins, they don’t really sell those long Gibson Girl dresses anymore so we had to buy dresses and we took tulle and sewed on layers of tulle so it was fluffier and bigger,”
Now, he serves as the assistant costume designer for the MVHS Drama department and helps to design, buy materials for and create the costumes used in plays. Sun worked on many costumes from last year’s “The Little Mermaid,” including one for Ursula. Though he hasn’t made a Halloween costume since he was 13 years old, Sun believes that some of the basic elements necessary to create a good costume are constant for both Halloween and theatre.
Throughout high school, senior Kavin Sivakumar has developed an interest for creating and wearing extravagant and outstanding costumes, whether it’s for Halloween or school dress-up days. A member of the Fashion Club since ninth grade, Sivakumar explained that he tries to create anything that impresses him.
“I’m inspired a lot by Lady Gaga [and] RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Sivakumar said. “They’re the cornerstone of my creativity.”
Sivakumar admitted that his Halloween costumes earlier in high school — which consisted of a black mask and cape freshman year and angel wings sophomore year — were more simple and easy to make, but junior year brought out his artistic side.
“I think last year was my wildest Halloween because every single period I changed my costume,” Sivakumar said. “I came in one and then I took off the face makeup and did another, and during tutorial I did another. Every single period I did a different costume.”
Though redoing the mask and changing the costume every 45 minutes was time-intensive Sivakumar said he loved the experience and became inspired to do an even more intricate costume this year, one which he wouldn’t reveal in order to keep the element of surprise.
He feels that not many people at MVHS care about or participate in dress-up days or Halloween because of the major academic stress, but his passion for dressing up and going all-out on Halloween allowed him to let go and just have fun.
With only a couple years of experience under her belt, junior Emily Wong has already made about a dozen cosplays, which are costumes of popular characters from books, movies or TV shows. She started to make costumes in order to tailor generic cosplays to her own taste and style. Wong likes to design costumes based on her interests.
“If I’m watching something, reading something, or I’m interested in something, I immediately write it down so I don’t forget,” Wong said.
She has a list of ideas longer than the list of costumes she has finished, but she hopes to get to many of the designs at some point in the future. Wong’s design process consists of several steps. First, she decides if there are any personal changes she wants to make to the costume. Second, she tries to find a free clothing pattern online, or go to Joanne’s and buy one. Third, she buys fabric, and finally she cuts and sews the costume together.
Among the numerous costumes Wong has made for herself, she has also made a couple of costumes for other people. Wong likes to see the effort that has been put into the costume making, and that the costume maker enjoyed working on the costume. She has made cosplays of Baymax from “Big Hero 6,” sailor costumes and others from various animes.
“If I can see that you truly love being in that costume that you are in and that you put effort to portray a character, ... then I think that makes a good costume,” Wong said.