Here is the difference between fashion design and costume design: fashion designers design clothing, costume designers design characters.
One of my favorite places to see characters (and costumes!) is the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Irwindale, California. I never really thought of myself as the Ren Faire type but I was dragged along by a costumer friend a few years ago and have made a point of attending ever since. The people watching, the campy shows, the greasy food, the merriment. It’s so much fun to do for exactly one day a year.
I didn’t dress up. I don’t dress up. Maybe working in costumes has taken some of the excitement out of it for me or maybe I’m just curmudgeonly, but I don’t even like participating in Halloween so medieval role playing sounds even less appealing. I did however wear a baseball cap which is very out of character for me so who knows, maybe the next step is a hoop skirt and corset and running away to be a professional wench. Maybe that’s how they get you, a seemingly innocent hat choice that leads to a life as a Ren Faire carnie.
I never cease to be impressed with the amount of effort people put into their characters. The details of their costumes, their accents, their lingo. I am even more amazed that despite the desert heat almost everyone there is in heavy, layered, often leathered costumes, and still in good spirits. Even in high-waisted shorts and a lightweight denim shirt I was whining and wilting, a reminder of how grateful I am to be born in an era of air conditioning.
Modern privilege aside, I love costumes and the role they play in telling the story of who we are (or, who we wish we were). Over the years I’ve watched the power that a costume has to transform an actor from himself (or herself) into another person entirely. Costumes are a way in which we explore the complexities and nuances of time, of history, of humanity.
Going to the Ren Faire always reminds me why I fell in love with costumes.
Farewell, AZRF 2014!
It’s just now starting to sink in that my first season of faire is over. I have had the time of my life becoming a part of this amazing family. My body is exhausted, my emotions are every which direction, but it has been fun. Being a joust bunny was everything I hoped and more. Thank you to everyone for making my first experience a great one.
Let’s do it all again in six months!
In the meantime, I’ll be posting more C.o.a.R. stuff as often as I can. I have so many stories and lessons I want to share! But now, it’s time to cry and time to sleep…