Halloween 2013 Costume Contest Winners!

2013-contest-widgetWe had over 200 entries to our costume contest this year, which was way more than we expected. That’s the kind of response big newspapers and magazines get when they run contests, though I daresay the level of quality of our entries was higher. But that just made the judging harder.

To make it manageable, the first we thing did was ruthlessly eliminate any entries that didn’t conform to our original stated categories. So that means no comic book characters, no Neil Gaiman characters, no fictional characters at all. (A lot of people seem to be unclear on the difference between mythology/folklore and fiction. Next year we’ll make a point of spelling it out. Short version: Athena is myth. Batgirl is fiction.)

Basically, we only considered costumes that might actually appear on our website: a specific historical person (queen, movie star, notable woman) or a figure from mythology or folklore.

But even after making that cut, we still had an overwhelming number of fantastic entries. Which then brings up the issue of judging and what, exactly, is being judged. The contestants ranged from 8-month-old babies to professional performers. How to compare them? Do adults stand a chance against adorable children? Does it make sense to judge a third-grader’s homemade outfit against the work of a professional costumer? Hmm.

So, we added more categories. We separated the women from the girls, putting the kids in their own division. Then we created a separate division for outstanding achievement in crafting, both in terms of homemade ingenuity and professional-level skill. We don’t have any extra money for prizes, so we scrounged up a couple of more gift certificates and will fill out the rest of the awards with our beautiful posters.

At this point I think I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown from all this judging, so it’s time to punt. Here are the winners. Note that we’ll upload more costume pictures later, maybe as a linked album or something, after we’ve copied all of them to our server.

Category Awards, Regular Division

These are the original category awards we announced, though we’ve expanded by awarding second and third place in each category. This division is limited to adults.

All the blue ribbon winners will receive the original prizes we announced: $25 Amazon gift certificates for individual categories, and a $50 Amazon gift certificate in the Best Overall category. The red ribbon winners and yellow ribbon winners in the individual categories will receive 11×14 or 8×10 posters of their choice from our collection; we’ll email them with the details. In the Best Overall category, the red ribbon winner will receive a $35 Amazon gift certificate and the yellow ribbon winner will receive a $20 Amazon gift certificate.

Best Notable Woman Costume



Blue Ribbon: Caitlin Driscoll as Ada Lovelace. Caitlin looks almost exactly like our design original for the Ada Lovelace costume. Didn’t she do a beautiful job? And Caitlin is an elementary school technology teacher, so this costume was an especially apt choice for her. Perfect!
Red Ribbon: Monica Espinosa as Joan of Arc. It’s a whole freaking suit of armor! Way to go, Monica! Was it hard to walk around in that?
Yellow Ribbon: Diana Olivares as Adela Velarde. We plan to add a soldadera costume to our catalog at some point, but in the meantime, Diana shows us how it’s done. She modeled her outfit after the pop art version of La Adelita, replete with braids, gun, and Mexican flag. Good job, Diana!

Best Queen Costume



Blue Ribbon: Adrianne Curran as Cleopatra. The problem with dressing up as Cleopatra is that the real woman has been totally obscured by the Hollywood version. You can try to do a proper historical costume, which no one would recognize, or you can just go Hollywood. Adrianne chose the latter option, with stunning effect. She used gold Isis wings (Adrianne is a belly dancer), a storebought dress from Egypt, and an amazing homemade headdress that took hours of crafting. The result is absolutely spectacular. Outstanding!
Red Ribbon: Janice Strickland as Zenobia in Chains. What delights us about this costume is the exquisite details: the golden chains, the gold jewelry, the tapestry style over-chiton, the fine crown, and Janice’s noble expression as she stands next to a wall, contemplating her lost kingdom. (Look at our Zenobia page and you’ll see what we mean.) Beautiful job, Janice. Just beautiful.
Yellow Ribbon: Denise Goerisch as Boudicca. This is another beautifully rendered outfit, with great details and a fierce performance by Denise. We’ve seen a lot of Boudiccas, but Denise is easily the most Boudicca-ish of all. Excellent job!

Best Glamour Grrl Costume



Blue Ribbon: Amanda Leib as Audrey Hepburn. Isn’t she the spitting image of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? She could be a DVD cover! Way to go, Amanda.
Red Ribbon: Victoria Erica Espejo as Hedy Lamarr. We love the photo shoot for this costume, which really helps the ambiance. Victoria Erica looks so glamorous with her gloves and her hat. And notice the cellphone! Beautiful job.
Yellow Ribbon: Celeste Moye as Mae West. Doesn’t she look stunning? Celeste wore this outfit to a party, and writes, “It was so lovely to have an idea suitable for a curvaceous woman like me. I actually got hit on a couple of times last night. That hasn’t happened to me in quite awhile. THANK YOU!”

Best Goddess or Mythological Costume



Blue Ribbon: Claudia Laughter and daughter as Sea Siren and Sea Nymph. Claudia was inspired by the gorgeous art of Alphonse Mucha, and in fact her outfit was part of a whole group of Mucha-inspired costumes. The result is the most beautiful sea siren we could possibly imagine, and that headdress is to die for. Bonus points for the adorable baby nymph! (The father is reportedly a pirate.)
Red Ribbon: Ashley Hejmanowski and daughter as Demeter and Persephone. Needless to say, Demeter and Persephone make for a perfect mother/daughter costume, and Ashley did a phenomenal job with both outfits. There’s all the stuff from our costume pages, plus perfect details like a Greek key border at the bottom of each chiton. Wonderful!
Yellow Ribbon: Stephanie Decouvelaere as Inanna-Ishtar. We have an Inanna-Ishtar costume coming up in this next season, but in the meantime, Stephanie did a great version all by herself. A spiral-wrapped Mesopotamian robe (is that a sari?), homemade crown, perfect jewelry, appropriately symbolic accessories. Beautifully done!

Grand Prize for Best Costume Overall



Blue Ribbon: Stephanie Nichols as Frida Kahlo. Everyone who looked at Stephanie’s pictures in our contest album was amazed. Have you ever seen a better impersonation of Frida Kahlo? The clothes, the makeup, the monkey, the attitude, the photography…it’s all perfection. Flawless work, Stephanie.
Red Ribbon: Becky Murphy as Anne Bonny. In true pirate fashion, Becky made almost her entire costume from scratch. The pirate coat was fashioned from an old coat liner with an added collar, lapels, and cuffs. The scabbard, pouch, and baldric were all homemade. Look at the details! And not only that, but Becky did a great job of playing Anne in her photographs, looking all piratey and swag.
Yellow Ribbon: Lori Russell as Baba Yaga. Lori is 82 years old, and her daughter writes, “To the best of my knowledge, this is her first ever photo shoot and only the second time I have ever seen my mother dress up for Halloween. When she was growing up in rural Iowa during the 1930s-40s, there was no trick or treating…All of the poses and facial expressions are her idea, by the way.” Sounds to us like Lori missed a career as an actress. Outstanding job!

Category Awards, Junior Division

We separated the kids out into their own division, but the judging was still excruciatingly difficult. Picking the winners was hard enough; ranking them was impossible. So we said to heck with second and third place, and just called a three-way tie in the categories with multiple winners. All the winners will receive posters of their choice.

Best Notable Woman Costume, Junior (three-way tie)



Blue Ribbon: Allie Akers as Alice Paul. Allie’s mom Sarah tells us that Allie masterminded this costume herself: “She put together her own costume (with various thrift store trip findings, a sash she bought with her own money at the centennial suffrage march in DC, and a yard stick from Home Depot) so she could dress up like her favorite woman in history, Alice Paul.” Fantastic job, Allie!
Blue Ribbon: Fiona D’Andrea as Marie Curie. Fiona’s mom Keri says Fiona spent months planning this costume, replete with radioactive test tubes. It’s terrific!
Blue Ribbon: Jessica Sheldon as Eleanor Roosevelt. According to family friend Treanor Baring, “Jessica designed the costume from photos—ER loved blouses with frilly necklines, but simple suits, and almost always wore a string of pearls. Although she was a wealthy woman, she dressed simply, never wanting to intimidate the many diverse women she advocated for. The typewriter is vintage, and the photo of FDR is in a frame from the Sequoia, FDR’s presidential yacht.” Wow!

Best Queen Costume, Junior (three-way tie)



Blue Ribbon: Emma Udell as Cleopatra (with her cat Cleocatra). Proud mom Chrissy Udell tells us that Emma was inspired to be Cleopatra after reading a book about her in school. They made the costume together, with absolutely no sewing. It looks great!
Blue Ribbon: Amy Carrigan’s daughter as Grace O’Malley. This adorable little two-year-old is pretty much the best Grace O’Malley ever. The end.
Blue Ribbon: Kristen’s daughter Mira as Hatshepsut. Little Mira was determined to be Hatshepsut for Halloween, so her mom re-purposed a pretty Cleopatra costume for the occasion. The Nile photo shoot is a bonus.

Best Glamour Grrl Costume, Junior (one winner)



Blue Ribbon: Charlotte Eshelman as Liza Minnelli. There is only one winner in this category; in fact, there’s only one entry. But that’s okay, because this costume is hilarious. Liza with a Z!

Best Goddess or Mythological Costume, Junior (three-way tie)



Blue Ribbon: Alowi Sanchez as La Calavera Catrina. Mom Erica DeLaPaz dressed her daughter as La Catrina, and what a beautiful job she did! Notice how perfectly the makeup and flowers match the embroidered dress. The black lace mantilla is a gorgeous touch. Excellent!
Blue Ribbon: Mila DeSimone as Snow White. Baby Mila is as lucky as she is adorable: her grandmother’s hobby is sewing and her mom’s hobby is photography. The result is some of the cutest costume pictures we’ve ever seen. Perfect!
Blue Ribbon: Cecilia Braun as a mermaid. We love everything about this costume, and Cecilia is too precious for words. Squee!!!

Grand Prize for Best Costume Overall, Junior (one winner)



Blue Ribbon: Aria and Anavie Sapkota as Frida Kahlo with Self-Portrait. This entry has it all: it’s brilliant, clever, adorable, hilarious, and perfectly executed. Congratulations to mom Ann-Marie Conrado (clearly the design mastermind behind it all) and her two precious daughters.

Awards for Excellence in Crafting

There was so much inspired crafting on display in our contest entries that we decided to create a special category just to recognize it. Of course, almost all of our winning costumes involve crafting; what this category is about is recognizing those costumes where we really want to draw attention to the ingenuity or skill of the maker.

The Resourceful Ingenuity category recognizes ingenious homemade costumes. Outstanding Artistry is for superb professional-level costumes that are frankly far beyond the capabilities of most people. Maker Moms and Daughters is for particularly good examples of mom crafting (and daughter modeling). All the winners will receive posters of their choice.

Resourceful Ingenuity



Award of Excellence: Zavi Smith as Isis. Look at that headdress! Zavi was inspired by this
Egyptian Vulture Headdress Tutorial, but she really amped it up. She curved the wings more so they would frame her face, added a solar disk, and made a 3D vulture head. Instead of foam board and spray paint, she used poster board and acrylic paint. Fantastic job!
Award of Excellence: Tuesday Critz as the Egtved Girl. Archaeologists celebrate Halloween too, and if you’re an archaeo/anthro geek (or maybe just a Dane), you immediately recognize the Egtved Girl. Did Tuesday make the string skirt from scratch, weaving the band on a warp-weighted loom as an exercise in experimental archaeology? Nope. It’s just a mop head dyed brown. Awesome.
Award of Excellence: Theo Marston as Hera, styled by her sister Barbara Chitouras. This is a perfect example of the kind of can-do spirit we encourage at Take Back Halloween. Let Barbara tell it: “I dressed my sister as Hera, and we went with a peacock theme, as peacocks were Hera’s animal. She borrowed a teal maxi dress, put an iridescent curtain panel over one shoulder and tied it with a gold curtain tie and teal scarf. I bought a czarina-style crown on Ebay for about $10 and added a clip-on peacock Christmas ornament I’d bought at Target a few years ago. The dangly gold earrings and Greek key bracelet were already something I had in my jewelry box.” And the result is fabulous!

Outstanding Artistry



Award of Excellence: Jenn WinterRose as Alice Paul. This whole costume is exquisite testimony to Jenn’s skill as a costumer and seamstress. It’s absolutely flawless and surpassingly beautiful. Outstanding work, Jenn.
Award of Excellence: Lindsey Lecher as Elizabeth I. Lindsey writes, “I made Queen Elizabeth’s gown and headpiece for a reproduction of ‘Blackadder’ last summer. Every piece was made from last April to July; the pearling took nearly 40 hours including the handmade ruff and headpiece.” It’s gorgeous, Lindsey. You did an amazing job.
Award of Excellence: Robin Lynn as Tomoe Gozen. Robin says, “I dressed as Tomeo Gozen, a female samurai warrior. I made my brass crown and tassels, and rope sandals. I did extensive research on proper kimono wear (I’m also wearing a hakama & 65 pounds of samurai armor). She was known for her archery skills, her military planning and her bravery in battle—she refused to wear a helmet and instead wore a crown. She is often depicted wearing full-makeup of the period and there is a yearly festival honoring her. My boyfriend (who is Nisei and from a samurai family) is dressed as my guard.”

Maker Moms & Daughters



Award of Excellence: Wendy Lally with her daughter as Athena. Wendy detailed the making of this costume on her blog, particularly the amazing homemade breastplate. Wendy is clearly a Maker Mom to the max!
Award of Excellence: Sandy Langelier with her daughter Kayla as Mother Nature. Sandy created this whole costume for her daughter, from the floral headdress (which is actually a straw hat bedecked with flowers, leaves, and feathers) down to the moss-covered shoes. And Kayla wears it very well!
Award of Excellence: Karen Huse with her daughter Rose as Athena. Do you know what the helmet is made out of? Do you? It’s a foil roasting pan. A ROASTING PAN, PEOPLE. That right there is the spirit of Take Back Halloween. Yay, Karen and Rose!



2 Comments → “Halloween 2013 Costume Contest Winners!”

  1. Raydeen


    Amazing! I never dress up… But next year! So exciting to see all these great costumes! I am inspired!

  2. Robyn Russell


    I really liked the “Bouts for Women” roller derby costume. Next year we should really have a category for “Best Humorous” costume.
    –Robyn :-)