Halloween 2016 Costume Contest Winners

Announcing the winners of our 2016 Costume Contest! Thank you so much for your patience in the wake of recent events. All the winners will be uploaded to our 2016 Costume Contest Winners album on Facebook. You can also review all the entries this year in our 2016 Costume Contest Album.

The prizes track pretty closely with the original contest announcement, with a couple of slight adjustments, as usual. We didn’t get any Professional Division entries for Notable Women, but we made up the difference by adding a Glamour Grrl category to the Junior Division. (I think next year I may re-label the professional division as the “expert” division, since what we’re trying to capture is a skill level rather than an income stream.) The Special 2016 Division is rounded out with honors for this year’s unique achievements. I will be emailing the winners with official notifications and Amazon gift certificates over the next couple of days.

Thank you all for participating in the contest and sharing your wonderful creativity.

Category Awards, Amateur Division

These are the prize categories that we award every year. They’re based on our own costume categories here on the website: glamour grrls, goddesses and mythological figures, queens, and notable historical women.

Best Mythological Costume


Winner: Becky Murphy as the Lady of the Lake.
Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords may not be a good basis for a system of government, but it does make for a great photo shoot. Becky’s costume is great too, and very resourceful. The cloak is actually a set of curtains with an attached valance, re-fashioned to form a hood; the sword pommel is the repainted top off a bottle of salad oil.

Best Queen Costume

Winner: Anne Peterson as Empress Elisabeth.
Anne’s costume recreates the Hungarian coronation gown worn by Empress Elisabeth of Austria (“Sisi”) in 1867. Sisi’s gown was a frothy, pearl-encrusted extravaganza that is a favorite subject today for historical costume enthusiasts. The amazing thing is that this costume is only the second dress Anne has ever made. Way to go, Anne! Really impressive.

Best Notable Woman Costume


Winner: Maia Weinstock as Grace Hopper.
Talk about attention to detail: not only is that a real Navy uniform, but those are replicas of Admiral Hopper’s actual service medals. Maia pulled off a similarly uncanny photo shoot as Justice Ginsburg last year, so we can’t wait to see what she does for next Halloween. (We should add that Maia did actually wear this costume for Halloween, though we’re not sure if any of the trick-or-treaters recognized her. One kid thought she was dressed as an Italian cop.)

Best Glamour Grrl Costume


Winner: Autumn Thomas-Brown as Diana Ross.
Autumn takes the prize in this category for the second year in a row with her modern Diana Ross ensemble. She writes: “I found a red beaded dress, red chandelier earrings, the curly ‘big-hair’ wig, the sparkly glitter eyeshadow, the fake eyelashes, the chiffon jacket (with a sequined underlayer to mimic the sparkle she has), and the microphone, of course.” You look fabulous, Miss Ross.

Best Realization of a Take Back Halloween Design


Winner: Amber Richardson as Hypatia.
Our Hypatia page gives instructions on how to recreate the costumes and props from the movie “Agora” using ivory crinkle fabric and DIY scrolls. Amber did a terrific job here, cannibalizing an old 1980s formal gown for the crinkle fabric and draping a long philosopher’s cloak around herself. She really looks the part! Very nicely done.

Grand Prize, Amateur Division


Winner: Tanya Page as Bessie Coleman.
Judging a costume contest is always hard, but one thing that makes it easier is when someone sends in a costume that’s perfect. Literally perfect. Everything about Tanya’s ensemble is flawless, from head to toe. She writes: “Having learned that Bessie chose a clothing style that was based on military officer’s uniforms of her day (just pause and reflect on how amazing THAT is), I wanted to replicate her outfit with as much authenticity as I could. My costume is a combination of replica WWI officer’s uniform and actual vintage pieces. The best part about wearing the costume was the opportunity it gave to educate people about this Notable Woman who has been largely forgotten. Bessie Coleman is my personal hero, and I want everyone to know what she accomplished and the obstacles she overcame to do so.” We couldn’t agree more.

Category Awards, Professional Division

These are the same category prizes as above, but this division is for cosplayers, Renaissance Faire performers, expert seamstresses, and others with professional-level skill.

Best Mythological Costume


Winner: Marisa Montesino as a Viking Shield Maiden.
Marisa’s interpretation of a Viking Shield Maiden is both fun and ferocious. She writes: “I made the whole dress, apron, cape, belt, bag, gold turtles (broaches made of half styrofoam eggs covered in sculpt, designed and painted) and beading, and shield. The axe I found at a thrift store and repainted.” Marisa also did the wonderful embroidery on the apron and dress.

Best Queen Costume


Winner: Lindsey Marth as Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Lindsey writes: “Eleanor has been an inspiration to me for many years so I was excited to finally get the chance to emulate her and make an outfit in this style that I’ve never done before! The gown is made of two-tone royal iridescent purple/blue shantung with hand-covered buttons at the cuffs. The tunic-overdress has a lion embroidered on the silk fabric (similar to her coat of arms), thin jacquard trim on the sides, and gold cording for side tying. I decided to do the barbette and veil like on her effigy because I wanted to do some fun long braids. The veil was a particular challenge because I wanted to add some detail and also to indicate her royal status so I embroidered fleur de lis in metallic gold thread on the veil.” Gorgeous!

Best Glamour Grrl Costume


Winner: Gabriela Salvador as Mary Pickford.
This is Mary Pickford as she appeared in the mid-1920s, before she cut her hair, so it’s that interesting in-between period: Jazz Age dress with old-fashioned coiffure. Gabriela writes: “I made the black velvet devore and chiffon dress based off the ‘one-hour dress’ patterns of the 1920s. I also made the black silk satin slip in the same style. I’m wearing reproduction shoes and stockings.” Gabriela also tried to replicate Mary’s thick barrel curls, and found that they fell apart very quickly: “No wonder she had to have her curls reset up to 7 times a day!”

Best Realization of a Take Back Halloween Design


Winner: Geneviève Leprohon as the Morrigan.
Geneviève’s professional take on our Morrigan design is a thing of beauty. She writes: “The birds are affixed to shoulder pads which I covered with black feathers; they have pins sewn underneath so I can attach them to my shoulders through the fabric. I added a hook on each to clip a multi chain necklace—it adds to the look, and it helps to keep the birds balanced. The collar is two lengths of hackle feather trim sandwiched between two layers of black velvet ribbon; a large snap is used for closure. I made the circlet and earrings. I use a celtic knot brooch to close the cape, and I’ve added a black boho belt with leather circles and metal eyelets to complete the look.”

Grand Prize, Professional Division


Winner: Monica De Souza-Griffith as Lady Isabella, Lady Elizabeth, and Countess Anastasia.

Monica submitted three costumes for our contest, and we loved all three so much that it was impossible to pick one. Each ensemble is an exquisite symphony of colors, fabrics, and trims. LOVE. Monica’s talent for costuming is incredible, and every dress she makes is gorgeous. Congratulations to a genius costume designer and amazing craftswoman!

Category Awards, Junior Division

Same categories as above, but for youthful humans.

Best Mythological Costume


Winner: Sheri Schmitz’s daughter as Medusa.
Sheri writes: “We started the costume a year ago by buying three dozen rubber snakes on clearance after Halloween. I glued each one to a barrette in different positions. We then did her hair up in a glamorous 40’s style roll before attaching the snakes. The chiton was purchased but the over-drape was a piece of fleece I had laying around that had a pattern of snakes in a Greek key. Perfect! She also wore sunglasses to prevent turning people to stone.”

Best Queen Costume


Winner: Elizabeth Apland as Aud the Deep-Minded, costume by Ellie Apland.
Aud the Deep-Minded was a 9th century Norse queen who went on to become one of the founding settlers of Iceland. Ellie Apland writes: “For the costume, Elizabeth, age 3, is wearing a Norse underdress, apron dress, and caftan, all made by her mother (myself) in the style of clothing excavated from the Birka settlement, located in modern-day Sweden. Rather than the traditional beads hung from the apron dress, which could be impractical for a 3 year old, we gave her a ‘battle chain.’ She is carrying a ‘traveling/raiding bag’ for candy. The hat came from a Norwegian festival and is purely for fun.”

Best Notable Woman Costume


Winner: Taylor Richardson as Mae Jemison.
Taylor Richardson is an amazing young lady: this 13-year-old aspiring astronaut is a Girl Scout, honor student, STEM and literacy advocate, triathlete, anti-bullying activist, Mars Generation Space Ambassador, and one of the youngest kids ever admitted to Space Camp. No surprise that the brilliant Mae Jemison is her idol. Taylor’s goal is to become the first African American woman on Mars, and we’re betting she’ll make it.

Best Glamour Grrl Costume


Winner: Brennan Wheeler as Hedy Lamarr.
Here’s another smart entry from young Brennan Wheeler, who last year dressed up as Dolley Madison. This year she decided to go as Hedy Lamarr. Mom Victoria writes: “Her costume featured a 1940s hairstyle (Victory Rolls), Lamarr’s trademark high yet rounded brows, and neutral makeup tones highlighted by classic 1940s red lips. More 1940s fashion included black and white checks, velvet collars, and pearls, pearls, and more pearls. The outfit is crowned with a patent diagram (attached to her trick-or-treat bag) which illustrates the player piano-inspired punch card and the electrical wiring designed to make the radio frequencies hop in a way the Germans couldn’t follow.”

Best Realization of a Take Back Halloween Design


Winner: Joanna Durbin as Anne Bonny, costume by Bernadette Durbin.
Joanna’s mom Bernadette says that she pulled together this whole costume for about $30-35. She writes: “My six-year-old wanted to be a pirate for Halloween this year, so we dressed her up in fine style. The jacket is an up-cycled ringmaster’s jacket; I stamped the fabric with different inks and used heat to set it in order to give is a jacquard look and then replaced the lapels and cuffs. The buttons and gold ribbon trim cost about $10. Her cravat and shirt cuffs are from an old skirt, and her boot covers are actually made from an old couch (leather-look vinyl.) The pirate hat was redecorated from the Spirit Halloween Store one that had weird red bows on it; I cut the bows off and used turkey and pheasant feathers for the plume and the sparkly jewel stickers at my daughter’s request. The plastic earring hoops are from a dollar store.”

Grand Prize, Junior Division


Winner: Maya Szakaly as a suffragist in grayscale.
This costume seems especially appropriate this year, but it would be a winner any time. Maya has the 1910s suffragist outfit down pat, and the grayscale approach makes her look like she just stepped out of an old photo. Congratulations!

Special 2016 Division

This division includes the two special prizes we announced this year for Madam President and a Future TBH Mythological costume, plus a couple of unique achievements from this year’s contestants. On the Future TBH costumes, we really love all the suggestions that people sent. The two designs we picked are those that seem like they will work best for our site: they’re no-sew and easy to put together. We will write them up in detail later.

Best Madam President Costume


Winner: Christina Davis as Shirley Chisholm.
Shirley Chisholm was my personal hero as a child, and I remember very well wishing that she could really be elected President. Christina did a wonderful job with this costume: perfect dress, perfect hair & makeup, and a sign that replicates the actual graphics used in the Chisholm campaign. Unbought and unbossed!

Future TBH Mythological Costume


Winner: Lori and Mikayla Russell as Mother Hulda and the Girl, costumes by Robyn Russell.
Mother Hulda was a costume candidate on our Kickstarter a few years ago, so we were thrilled to see this suggestion. Mother Hulda (or Frau Holle) is the fairytale version of an ancient Germanic nature goddess; when it snows, people say “Mother Hulda is shaking her pillows.” These delightful costumes were created by Robyn Russell and modeled by her 85-year-old mother Lori and her 19-year-old niece Mikayla. Lori’s family is of German descent, and when she was growing up in Iowa people would still talk about Mother Hulda when it snowed.

Future TBH Mythological Costume


Winner: Denise Dixon Goerisch as Arachne.
You all know the story of Arachne, who challenged Athena to a weaving contest and got turned into a spider. The great thing about Denise’s costume is that she keeps the Greek flavor, with a black chiton forming the basis of the ensemble. The spider legs are just black tights stuffed with plastic bags and attached with thread. Very clever!

Adventures in Archaeology


Winner: Laura Gill as an Amazon.
If the Take Back Halloween book ever sees the light of day, it will have a whole section on the real-life Amazons (Saka/Scythian tribeswomen). In the meantime, we salute Laura’s ingenious interpretation patterned after the depictions on Greek vases. The really cool thing is the Scythian-style belt, which Laura “made from scratch with self-designed felt appliques of deer, moons, and suns, which I embroidered and hand beaded. Those are mirrors inside the suns; the Scythians did use mirrors on their felt boots and such.”

Outstanding Creativity


Winner: Laura Mayer as Baba Yaga.
Laura Mayer wins the prize this year for Outstanding Creativity with her Baba Yaga costume, replete with knitted chicken feet and a chicken-legged hut on her apron. She writes: “I designed and knitted the chicken socks I am wearing. I also designed and knitted the hut I am wearing on my apron. I have tried to include many of Baba Yaga’s attributes in this piece. I used fabric with trees on it as the forest background for her hut. I knitted a small mortar and pestle and crocheted the fence next to her hut, which I adorned with plastic skulls and bones, and I included a black cat bead. I carried a small birch broom and the embroidered cloth and wooden comb that Vasilisa took from Baba Yaga’s hut. The bead flowers and birds and knitted tree were just to add atmosphere.” Congratulations, Laura, on a wonderful costume and a magnificent piece of fiber art.



1 Comment → “Halloween 2016 Costume Contest Winners”

  1. The last costume with the extra finger/claw on the sock is great!