2023 Costume Contest Winners

Prizes are here! A huge thank-you to everyone who participated in the contest. I’m in awe of all the beautiful costumes, the boundless creativity, and the warm sense of camaraderie in our little community. I was delighted to see so many familiar faces again and thrilled to welcome new participants to our contest.

I will be emailing the winners their Amazon gift certificates over the next couple of days. (For reference, here’s the original contest announcement.) All the winners have been posted on our Facebook page and uploaded to our 2023 Costume Contest Winners album. You can also review all the entries this year in our 2023 Costume Contest Album.

Okay, let’s get to it! Here come the prizes!

Division I: Women’s History

These are the prize categories that we award every year. They’re based on our own costume categories here on the website: queens, goddesses and mythological figures, notable historical women, and glamorous stars. Except that this year we didn’t get any “glamour grrrl” entries — not complaining, mind you — so we had money left over to bring back one of the traditional awards we had dropped: Best Realization of a Dress Parade Design. Which was perfect, because this year we had some doozies.

Best Realization of a Dress Parade Design

Winner, Best Realization of a Dress Parade Design, Queen Costumes: Janice Strickland as Jezebel.
To fully appreciate the scale of Janice’s achievement here, you have to realize that not only did she perfectly recreate our original costume, she also had a stone tower built to match the illustration. Okay, maybe that last part isn’t true. But the art direction for this shoot is just off the charts. I’m in awe. Thank you, Janice, for bringing to life one of our oldest and most beloved costume designs.

Winner, Best Realization of a Dress Parade Design, Mythology: Jean Martin as Maria Makiling.
Another flawless recreation of one of our costume designs! Jean wore this costume to “Baba Yaga’s Forest Tea Party” (doesn’t that sound like fun?) held by the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild, and then wrote it up for an issue of Journey Planet devoted to Filipino myths, legends, and folktales. Such a thrill for us!

Winner, Best Realization of a Dress Parade Design with Elaboration: Kati Taylor and Ben Wallace as Baba Yaga and her House.
When we debuted our Baba Yaga costume 10 years ago, the chicken feet were a little bit controversial. Traditionally it’s Baba Yaga’s hut that has chicken legs; we justified our design with reference to Marija Gimbutas (who wrote, in The Language of the Goddess, “The hut can turn around on its axis like a spindle and is, in fact, Baba Yaga herself.”) Besides, how else are you going to work the chicken legs into the costume if you’re just one person? But Kati and Ben are two people. They approached this as a couples costume, with Ben essaying the role of Baba Yaga’s hut. Very effective!

Best Queen Costume

Winner, amateur class: Cheryl Blakemore as Hatshepsut.
I’m willing to bet that the real Hatshepsut wasn’t nearly this beautiful. But the fabulous Cheryl Blakemore brings glamour to everything she does, including Egyptian cosplay. This Hatshepsut is gorgeous and elegant!

Winner, expert class: Lindsey Marth as the Empress Josephine.
Look at that train! Look at that embroidery! What a spectacular costume. The color scheme is sublime: notice the dark blue gloves that pick up the blue of the embroidery. Just lovely.

Winner, junior/expert class: Emma Glynn as Elizabeth I, costume by Angie Glynn.
I’m calling this one junior/expert class because of course, mom Angie made the costume. Including the ruffs! Little Emma doesn’t look 100% sold on the concept, but she’s probably just reflecting on the relative discomfort of 16th century garb compared to the ease and convenience of modern knits.

Best Mythological Costume

Winner, amateur class: Brianne Grimstad as Persephone.
Speaking of modern knits: yes, goddesses should wear leggings! And sweatpants! And whatever else they want! In her email to us, Brianne wrote, “I felt if the goddesses and gods were walking among us today, most of them would embrace an updated look.” Yes! Also, Brianne did a bang-up job on that headdress.

Winner, hobbyist class: Becky Murphy as Chalchiuhtlicue.
Becky has achieved some kind of apotheosis of feathers with this costume, which was inspired partly by our design and partly by the Aztec headdresses you see in modern parades. She made that thing from scratch! Serious feather-wrangling here.

Winner, expert class: Dominique Miller as the Siren from “Jibaro.”
I just don’t know how this could be any more perfect. Everything about it is marvelous: the meticulously crafted headdress, the hand-strung beads, the hundreds of sequins and rhinestones, the handmade armbands that perfectly match the suit, etc. etc. Glorious!

Winner, Judge’s Choice: Caroline Chinitz as a biblically accurate seraph.
Be not afraid, saith the Lord. Wait, why are you screaming?

In all seriousness, I love this costume. Part-insect, part-bird, part-quilted coverlet, it’s a perfect evocation of Ezekiel’s vision. My only question is if Caroline also did hooves for her feet.

Best Notable Woman Costume

Winner, amateur class: Janice Strickland as Marie Laveau.
Should Janice have been an actress or what? And an art director, because this is another fantastic photo shoot. The props, the lighting, the ambiance — you really feel like you’re getting a peak at the great Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. Brava!

Winner, expert class: Ainsley Hawthorn as Anne Bonny.
Now that’s a pirate costume! Everything from the muslin shirt and wool frock coat to the replica flintlock pistol is right on point. And the photos (by Ritchie Perez I think?) are fantastic!

Winner, junior class: Callie Yulo as Marcela Agoncillo.
Marcela Agoncillo is revered in history as the woman who sewed the first Philippine flag. She’s a Philippine national hero, and Callie here has done a lovely job of honoring her legacy. It’s so great to see girls celebrating women’s history and paying tribute to our foremothers. Go, Callie!

Winner, Judge’s Choice: Tabitha Langer as Meow-rie Curie.
Speaking of celebrating women’s history, we have to give a nod to Meow-rie Curie. Because it’s hilarious. Tabitha, who is 8, couldn’t decide between being a cat or Marie Curie for Halloween, so she decided to combine them. This makes perfect sense. Indeed, if Marie Curie were alive today, I have no doubt she would wear cat ears on Halloween. You go, Tabitha!

Division II: Masquerade

This is for costumes that don’t fit into Division I: Fiction, Fantasy, Period Costumes, and Historic Recreations. The main difference between Fiction and Fantasy is that the latter is for non-human characters. Since science has proven that the so-called “humans” in Star Wars are really humanoid bees, we decided to put all the Star Wars costumes in the Fantasy category. Just so you know.

But first, the historic recreations and period costumes!

Best Historical Recreation

Winner, hobbyist class: Jackie Williamson in a Victorian fancy-dress witch costume.
This is some fine, fine costuming right here. Jackie sewed the garments herself, made the hat out of cardboard, made the lizard out of paper mache, made the little creepy-crawlies out of felt — and it’s wonderful. Completely charming and beautifully done.

Winner, expert class: Jennifer Krystyna as Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer.
I literally gasped when this entry came in. Isn’t it perfect? It’s so clean and elegant — the reconstruction itself, the photo shoot, everything. Kenau was a hero during the siege of Haarlem (1572-73), and it’s sad that her name in Dutch has come to mean something like “bossy bitch.” Maybe we can take it back! Btw, Jenn included a write-up about this costume on her Wasted Weeds blog.

Best Period Costume

Winner, expert class: Angelica Roque in “Victorian Felicitations.”
I have a theory that complicated dress patterns were one of the ways middle-class women in the pre-feminist era kept themselves from going insane. Gotta use that brainpower somehow. The 1840s were the peak of this: everybody was making these wild plaid dresses with fan fronts and darts that must have been a nightmare to match and sew. Angelica here has flawlessly recreated the style, with a dress that is beautifully designed and stitched. Look at that chevron on the front! Look at how the pattern reverses on the ruffles! Beautiful work.

Best Fictional Character Costume

Winner, amateur class: Taina Escalera as Moana.
Taina completely inhabits the role of Moana — literally. She dressed like this for a child’s Moana-themed birthday party, and I can just imagine the sensation she caused. She’s perfect! I bet she was mobbed by kids begging her to sing “How Far I’ll Go.” (I love that whole soundtrack.)

Winner, hobbyist class: Kate and Phil West as Hetty Woodstone and Pete Martino.
This is some excellent costume-fu: Kate rigged up her dress by combining a modern skirt and athletic jacket and hacking it into Victorian shape. That’s exactly the technique we’ve been using for some of the new costumes we’re working on to add to the site. And it looks great! Totally Victorian. The bustle, by the way, is a pillow tied around her waist — another costume hack we enthusiastically endorse.

Winner, expert class: Monica and Arthur Griffith as “Renaissance Ravenclaw,” costumes by Monica De Souza-Griffith.
Monica and Arthur show us what House Ravenclaw would have looked like in roughly the 16th century — assuming, of course, that Hogwarts had a genius costumer on staff. These ensembles are absolutely magnificent. I think this is some of the best work Monica has ever done, and that’s saying a lot. Look at the details! Look at the bird appliques!

Winner, Judge’s Choice: Sa’ida for the “Sarah the Goblin Queen” costume she created for Kara Gill.
I’m not exactly a fan of the movie Labyrinth, but I fell in love with this lush, opulent gown Sa’ida created. Sheer split sleeves, lavish skirt swags caught up by jewels, beading everywhere, rich ruby color — it’s just luscious.

Winner, junior/expert class: Margie Glynn as Effie Trinket, costume by Angie Glynn.
I have unilaterally promoted Angie to expert class because it’s clear she can do anything. Anything! And Margie is doing a fabulous job of selling the costume—she’s got the pose and the attitude down pat. Another triumph from the Glynn family!

Winner, junior/amateur class: Juliette Langer as Lucy Carlyle.
One of the fun things about holding this contest year after year is seeing kids grow up. Juliette first entered our contest nine years ago as the fiercest little Athena you ever saw. She had a pizza circle for a shield and some kind of aluminum foil situation as a helmet. It was epic. Now here she is, a grown-up young lady, with genuinely excellent costume chops. She made the skull jar housing herself, cut and styled the wig, and pulled together all the clothing items to match Lucy Carlyle (with mom Emily Langer adding some fabric patches to the jacket). Great job, Juliette!

Best Fantasy Character Costume

Winner, amateur class: Lori Russell as the Wicked Witch of the West, costume by Robyn and Lori Russell; and introducing Smokey as Toto.
In case you missed it when this entry first came through, Lori is 92 years old. 92! She first entered our contest in 2013, and since then it’s become something of a tradition for the Russell family, with Lori and daughter Robyn collaborating on costumes ranging from Baba Yaga to Madame Defarge. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to see Lori and Robyn participating again this year. A fancy photo shoot was out of the question given the weather in Alaska, so Robyn and Lori (and Smokey) did a quick indoor version. And you know what? It’s perfect. No notes.

Winner, hobbyist class: Kacie Brunette as a Fairy Mandalorian with a Fairy Grogu child.
I admit, I’m in love with Fairy Grogu. But don’t get me wrong: this whole costume is a winner. I love how imaginatively detailed it is — the bark armor, the threads of gold everywhere, the mossy wings, the leafy skirt. The addition of Fairy Grogu — which is both hilarious and endearing — elevates it into the stratosphere.

Winner, expert class: Paige Mattern as Jocasta Nu with her husband as Obi-Wan Kenobi, costumes by Paige Mattern.
Competition at the expert level can be fierce, and we had some amazing entries this year. It’s the embroidery that put this one over the top: Paige created the pattern herself from looking at movie stills. Didn’t she do a great job? Beautiful work!

Division III: Main Character Energy

Surprise! We created an extra division for four fabulous costumes that clearly deserve to be the center of their own cinematic universes.

Best Heartthrob

Winner, expert class: Arthur Griffith as a Jedi Master.
Arthur Griffith stars as a Jedi Master on a time-warped journey to the Milky Way, where he meets and falls in love with Monica De Souza at a Renaissance Faire.

Best Villain

Winner, expert class: Carol Lewis as the Joker.
Carol Lewis stars as the Joker, now female and determined to wreak more havoc than ever on Gotham City.

Best Mascot

Winner, expert class: Ainsley Hawthorn as an ostrich.
Ainsley Hawthorn stars as a mascot performer who starts to believes she really is an ostrich, in a harrowing psychological drama about one woman’s descent into madness.

Best Spiritual Guru

Winner, junior/expert class: Emma Glynn as Weird Barbie, costume by Angie Glynn.
Emma Glynn stars as Weird Barbie, in a 10-film franchise that eventually reveals the mangled doll as the trillion-year-old deity who kicked off the Big Bang.