Saturday, September 30, 2017

Newfangled 52 - September Edition

Being back to school again after soooo many years is super weird. I was expecting armloads of textbooks, but in fact, the ones I do have are online! Things may have changed in my life, but the feeling of a good book in my hand, isn't one of them. Despite no having my time filled with baking labs and theory classes, I managed to still get a few books read.

by Seanan McGuire

353 Pages

It’s been almost a year since October “Toby” Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day’s sleep. She’s tried to focus on her responsibilities—training Quentin, upholding her position as Sylvester’s knight, and paying the bills—but she can’t help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.
To make matters worse, Toby’s just been asked to find another missing child…only this time it’s the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne, who didn’t even know he was a father until the girl went missing. Her name is Chelsea. She’s a teleporter, like her father. She’s also the kind of changeling the old stories warn about, the ones with all the strength and none of the control. She’s opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before—and there’s a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn’t stopped.
Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster. But danger is also stirring in the Court of Cats, and Tybalt may need Toby’s help with the biggest challenge he’s ever faced.
Toby thought the last year was bad. She has no idea.

It's amazing that she can write so many book on magical children getting abducted but still make every one unique and fun. Toby is always a character that I enjoy reading about and I hope to continue doing so for quite some time. Oh, and if I didn't already love Seanan McGuire enough, I found this amazing set of tweets on Tumblr that made me squeal with joy.

by Kenneth Graham

288 Pages

One of the most celebrated works of classic literature for children
Meet little Mole, willful Ratty, Badger the perennial bachelor, and petulant Toad. Over one hundred years since their first appearance in 1908, they've become emblematic archetypes of eccentricity, folly, and friendship. And their misadventures-in gypsy caravans, stolen sports cars, and their Wild Wood-continue to capture readers' imaginations and warm their hearts long after they grow up. Begun as a series of letters from Kenneth Grahame to his son, The Wind in the Willows is a timeless tale of animal cunning and human camaraderie.

I finally finished reading this and I only have a few questions.... Are these animals the same size as humans? What is the size relation between human sized animals and regular animals? And are the regular sized animals smart like the human animals? How do all the animals have houses and clothes and food from the store when they don't have jobs? Do they buy from humans? How deep do the burrows have to be to accommodate human sized animals? How does anyone confuse Mr. Toad for a human washer woman? How does Toad get to go home after escaping prison and not have the police come there to look for him? I'm sooo confused...

by Genevieve Cogman

330 Pages

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author.
One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction...
Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it's already been stolen. 
London's underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.
Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself...

This book was interesting. Well, it had a lot of backstory plot that I thought was interesting. Sadly, the book only hints at theses things and doesn't actually go into them. The book itself was more of a multi-trope adventure novel. And that was fun, even if it wasn't what I truly wanted from it. I will read the next book when I get my hands on it, so I can hopefully answer the questions that are brewing in my mind. Although I have a feeling they will also be the same and my questions may not get answers for awhile.

by Elizabeth Haydon

657 Pages (30:08 Hours)

Rhapsody, a young woman trained as a Namer, can attune herself to the vibrations of all things, tap the power of true names, and rename people, changing their basic identities. Her magic lies in music: "Music is nothing more than the maps through the vibrations that make up all the world. If you have the right map, it will take you wherever you want to go," she tells her adoptive brothers. They are "the Brother," a professional assassin able to sense and track the heartbeats of all natives of the doomed Island of Seren, their homeland, and his giant sidekick Grunthor, a green-skinned Sergeant Major who enjoys making jokes, using edged weapons, and honing his cannibalistic palate. Inadvertently, Rhapsody has renamed the Brother Achmed the Snake, breaking his enslavement to Tsoltan the F'dor (a fire-born demon). Tsoltan sends minions in pursuit to rebind Achmed. The three escape into the roots of a World Tree, Sagia, emerging transformed into another country and century. But have they truly escaped the F'dor's evil? And how does all this relate to the prologue's story of Gwydion and Emily, two young lovers brought together across history and then separated by the mysterious Meridion?

I read this book eons ago and had mostly forgotten about it until I saw that the author had finally released new installments for it after 8 years. It had been so long since I read them that I could barely remember what they were about. So I did what I always do when rereading; I downloaded the audiobook. It was just as good as I remembered, although there were a few things that irked me. I had forgotten (or maybe not noticed before) how much they slut-shame the main character "in jest". Yeah, not cool. Also, having the book be so musical, it would've been nice had they actually had a woman narrator with a bit of a song in her voice. The male narrator didn't do it justice. I am looking forward to rereading this series and seeing what her new books have to add to it.

by Seanan McGuire

176 Pages (4:44 Hours)

Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests
Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.
But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.
Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. The things she's experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West's care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.
But Nancy's arrival marks a change at the Home. There's a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it's up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things.
No matter the cost.

This book was incredible. I need to get the next one now! This book has a trans gendered character and an ace character and they are written perfectly. Nobody questions their choices or uses the wrong pronouns and when someone says something bigoted, they are hated more than the villain in the book. Not to mention that every character is as unique as the World that they visited. I want to spend a lot more time in this world.

by Beth Cato

387 Pages

After the Earth’s power is suddenly left unprotected, a young geomancer must rely on her unique magical powers to survive in in this fresh fantasy series from the author of acclaimed The Clockwork Dagger.
In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation—the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer Wardens who have no idea of the depth of her power—or that she is the only woman to possess such skills. 
When assassins kill the Wardens, Ingrid and her mentor are protected by her incredible magic. But the pair is far from safe. Without its full force of guardian geomancers, the city is on the brink of a cataclysmic earthquake that will expose Earth’s powers to masterminds determined to control the energy for their own dark ends. The danger escalates when Chinese refugees, preparing to fight the encroaching American and Japanese, fracture the uneasy alliance between the Pacific allies, transforming the city into a veritable powder keg. And the slightest tremor will set it off. . . . 
Forced on the run, Ingrid makes some shocking discoveries about herself. Her powerful magic has grown even more fearsome . . . and she may be the fulcrum on which the balance of world power rests.

I picked up this steampunk book with the hopes that it would be better than most. And I'd have to say that it was. It's nice to see steampunk not done in London and to have an alternate reality where Japan has basically taken over the United States. This mean that there were a lot more POC characters and I'm always happy for that. There was also a trans character in this that wasn't handled as smoothly. There was a lot of misgendering and confusion before finally giving over and using his correct pronouns. It could've been done better, but at least the author is trying to be inclusive. I'll probably pick up the next book in the series at some point.

by Alex Bledsoe

349 Pages (9:42 Hours)

In this valley songs live ... and kill.
No one knows where the Tufa came from or how they ended up in the mountains of east Tennessee. When the first Europeans came to the Smoky Mountains, the Tufa were already there. Dark-haired and enigmatic, they live quietly in the hills and valleys of Cloud County, their origins lost to history. But there are clues in their music, hidden in the songs they have passed down for generations.
Private Bronwyn Hyatt, a true daughter of the Tufa, has returned from Iraq, wounded in body and spirit, but her troubles are far from over. Cryptic omens warn of impending tragedy, while a restless "haint" has followed her home from the war. Worse yet, Bronwyn has lost touch with herself and with the music that was once a part of her life. With death stalking her family, will she ever again join in the song of her people and let it lift her onto the night winds?

So, I just discovered that I can rent audiobooks online from my local public library! How cool is that? I really wanted to figure out how it worked, so I borrowed the first interesting book that I cam across. I should've kept looking. This was less a fantasy book and more a weird family drama book with a few fantasy elements. Not to mention that there were a few weirdly incestuous moments that were kinda hard to listen to. Not a great story, not great characters, just not great. Not planning on reading the rest of the series.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Thursday Threads - Her Universe Fashion Show 2017

Hi All!

I know, it's been forever since I've been on here, but due to being back to school, I just don't have as much time as I want to devote to things. I will keep trying to post when I can.

I've been promising the Her Universe Fashion Show highlights for awhile now, and I've finally been able to collect all the info I needed. So here it is in all it's glory! 

and if watching wasn't enough, how about some great picture and info on your fav designers from our friends over at the Her Universe Blog


Designer: Grace Johnston
Title: DON’T PANIC – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Grace Johnston is “a wearable artist/designer/photographer/traveler/never-ending do-er of many things” currently living in Chicago, Illinois. Originally from a tiny town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, from the earliest age she spent her spare time creating and imagining endless worlds and possibilities. Both of her parents are writers and artists themselves, so the doors to a creative universe were always open to Grace. When she discovered her mom’s sewing machine at the age of twelve and realized she could make whatever she wanted, she was hooked. “I’ve never found anything I love quite as much as sitting down in front of a sewing machine and making something extraordinary,” she says. “From there I just couldn’t stop, I had so many ideas in my head. I just kept working and sewing and messing up and trying again and getting better and better. The things I made got more complex and challenging and weird as the years went on. And that’s how I came to love fashion. It gave me the power to physically bring my dreams to life.”
Working in fashion for over a decade now, Grace started off in high school transforming old thrift store clothing into crazy new creations. Her sewing foundations were established by working in a costume shop after school, where she learned the basics of hand sewing and using store-bought patterns. She received her Bachelor’s degree in 2010 from the School of the Art Institute, where she majored in Sculpture and minored in Fashion Design. She has since worked in theater companies across America and with fashion design companies around the world. She works independently to create custom, one-of-a-kind fashion pieces for herself and for private clients. “I would call myself more of a wearable artist than strictly a fashion designer,” she says. “I am, above all, inspired by non-traditional materials and sculptural forms. I believe the body is a foundation that garments can be built upon, and I am constantly inspired to see how the body can be transformed through the shapes and forms that garments can take. I prefer to choose my materials from thrift shops and hardware stores instead of fabric shops. I find so much excitement in imagining new possibilities for trash, discarded materials, and things that you would never imagine could become a beautiful garment.”

Designer: Rebecca Jordan
Title: The Diva Plavaguna – The Fifth Element

Rebecca Jordan, originally from central California, now lives in Simi Valley. She is married with a 4-year old daughter.  She works as a professional prop maker at a large prop studio in Southern California and is surrounded by geekiness every day. She describes her job as “amazing.” She has been costuming since she was 18-years old and says, “I started getting more into geek fashion when noticing there wasn’t a lot of options for dressing nice and geeky.”
Her fashion has been limited to what she has done for herself and through private commissions for the last nine years. She adds that that has all changed with her new job, though, and her focus on props has consumed her time recently. “I do love designing and making dresses,” she notes with a smile. “I try to represent my geek inspiration for fashion through subtlety. I like to think you can keep something simple and still have it read very well. I love designing things I think would work great on all ages as well as all body types, too. I always lean towards natural fabrics and believing that it’s what is inside that counts in a garment. If you don’t have a good foundation the rest of the clothing will fall apart.”

Note: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Amanda could not attend The Her Universe Fashion Show. However, her design was chosen as one of our finalists.

Designer: Amanda Avery
Title: Room 237 – The Shining

Amanda Avery is a North Carolinian who transplanted to Southern California 5 years ago. She says she is just one of those people that can’t keep their hands out of creative things. She attended fashion school for three semesters and has worked as a costume seamstress for one year.
Recalling her early interest in fashion design, she says, “When I was a little girl my mom bought me a diary; a few years ago the ‘teenage tomboy me’ was shocked to find that diary and discover that it was full of nothing but little drawings of shoes and purses. I guess it’s always been in me to some extent. I taught myself how to sew when I was 11 or 12-years old and just kept going from there.” She has submitted designs every year for The Her Universe Fashion Show and relates that the contest gives her life. Every single year, she and her friends enter, show each other their drawings and their excitement is palpable. “Fashion is really about wearing your heart on your sleeve,” she continues. “Being on the outside the way you feel on the inside. As fangirls, we want the same things as everyone. We just want to show the world what we’re passionate about and how we feel!”

Designer: Athena Eagar
Title: Here Comes the Rain – The Matrix

Athena Eager, from Glendale, Arizona, may be new to designing fashion, but not to the sewing and creating process. She has designed and sewn her own outfits and costumes for several years – everything from dresses and gowns, pants, jackets, coats and corsets. Her experience and interest in sewing and garment construction started with her mother, a home taught seamstress who made many of the garments she wore as a child and several of the outfits she owns now. “For much of my life, my interest has been as a hobby,” says Athena. “I sewed off-and-on through my teenager years, usually dresses and skirts, and whenever I had a chance as I grew older. What I would create varied including historic period garb, uniforms, dresses, skirts, pants, cloaks and capes, jackets, petticoats and corsets.”
She only considered fashion as a career when she took a step back a few years ago and realized she would be quite happy designing and sewing whenever she could for as long as she could and then explored what opportunities were available. “I discovered that my local college had an entire program and enrolled right away. I am now completing my second year, with one more semester remaining. I have maintained a 4.0 grade point average and have gained invaluable sewing, tailoring, and designing knowledge. I entered fashion design school because I love to sew but had little idea of what options were available or what fashion design actually entailed. I am completing the designs of my first line at this time.” Athena has found that inspiration can come from anywhere, including her design this year for The Her Universe Fashion Show. “The initial idea for ‘Here Comes the Rain’ struck while I was shopping for school supplies and found a wool that looked remarkably like the Matrix Rain. It was too perfect a bit of inspiration not to try to incorporate it into a geek couture garment.”

Designer: Sarah Hambly
Title: Annville’s Revival – Preacher

“Geek Couture has absolutely changed my life,” says Sarah Hambly. She was born and raised in a small town in California called Novato which is mostly known for being the backside of Skywalker Ranch.  She is a self taught fashion designer, and has loved fashion since the “beginning of time. I used to compete quite heavily on the rodeo circuit, and my introduction to fashion was wanting to have the most unique riding shirt to wear in the arena,” she says. “I designed an outfit for the world champion barrel racer in 2014 and from there my interest continued to spike.” Her mother had sewn all her life and had made her prom dress in high school. Sarah watched her create and learned to sew from her. Sarah was a part of last year’s Her Universe Fashion Show and says it was an “incredible, life changing experience.” Since the event, she has completed a few cosplay commissions as well as creates ball gowns and dresses for her personal collection. She plans on applying to Central Saint Martins School of Fashion next spring to further her path in fashion and design. “My past work can be described as heavily influenced by fashion icons like Alexander ‘Lee’ McQueen, John Galliano, Guo Pei, etc,” Sarah reveals. “I am a huge fan of heavy embellishments and things that sparkle, as well as dramatic, unique looks.”
Last year Sarah worked for Paramount Pictures in the art direction department, where she lived in Los Angeles for a few months. She is currently a student in San Francisco pursing a major in photography and the creative director for an LGBTQ men’s fashion magazine. She is also “the proud mom to five beautiful horses, who keep me inspired and motivated to do the very best that I can do. They also keep me busy, and between sewing, school, work and horses, I live a very full and happy life!”

Lydia Tachkov
Title: Princess of the Wolves – Princess Mononoke

Lydia Tachkov is an assistant designer living in San Francisco, California. She has an A.A in fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, and was a finalist in the Her Universe Fashion Show 2016. She currently works as an assistant designer for the children’s wear brand, Gymboree. Her specialty in the company is wovens, which is primarily where she says her personal designs are. She learned about anime and manga when she was 9-years old and has been a fan every since.  “I started cosplaying when I was 14, which drove me to learn how to sew,” she says. “ I realized that not only did I love the characters and being them, but that I loved figuring out how to put their outfits together and felt myself drawn to certain characters based off of their designs! My passion for sewing and cosplay is what started my love for fashion and couture and is the reason why I decided to pursue a career in it!”
Much of Lydia’s past work has been inspired by nature and organic forms. She has extensive experience in making silk flowers by hand, tambour bead work, silk dyeing and hand embroidery. “I love using a combination of heavier structures and light, elegant fabrics for the contrast,” she adds. “I primarily drape my garments and love creating asymmetrical pieces. My work can be described as a flower burst because I love incorporating silk fabrics in whatever way I can. I feel drawn to them and love the process of making them.”

Designer: Hailey Jensen
Title: The Bathhouse – Spirited Away

Hailey Jensen, from the Bay area, is a self-taught seamstress & watercolor painter, with a love for books, movies & TV shows.  She has been drawing since she could hold a pencil & designing costumes inspired by her favorite characters since the fourth grade. Four years ago, after watching Project Runway for ages, she decided to seriously try her hand with a sewing machine. “My first real project was some Halloween costumes for me & my family,” she recalls. “We dressed as Merida & her parents from the movie Brave. I’ve been making our Halloween costumes ever since, as well as a few fancy gowns & some casual everyday clothes. It’s honestly become an addiction!”
As a self-taught seamstress, Hailey says she learned most everything she knows from You Tube & hours of research online. Within four years she’s made over seventeen costumes, a few fancy gowns, sundresses & separates. Two of her self-designed costumes were even featured in an HBO compiled Game of Thrones ‘Fan Compendium’ book. “It’s so important to celebrate things that we are passionate about,” she says proudly. “ I know I was one of those girls shopping in the guys sections for cool t-shirts, and the more geek couture spreads, the more fashion becomes available for everyone to be able to wear and share their love of their fandom.”

Designer: Judith Armas Orellana
Title: Nephilim: Warrior Angel – Shadowhunters

Judith Armas Orellana is a costume designer born and raised in Lima-Peru and currently living in Los Angeles. Whether watching Disney with her mother or Steven Seagal with her father, films were her first love but Star Wars was always her favorite. She decided to go to college to learn more about the entertainment world but it wasn´t until her first internship that she found her one true love: costume design. And after working in several movies and commercials under the wing of a great costume designer who taught her how to be passionate for her work, she decided to extend her horizons and applied for a Theater Costume Design degree at FIDM for which she moved to LA. Her schooling had her specializing in period construction and costume design as well as for film and television.
She says that “Costume design is my life, as simple and complex as that.”  Today she works as a freelance costume designer (costumes upon request) and a stock costumer at Eastern Costume (a period based rental warehouse for film and television).

Designer: Elissa Alcala
Title: Into the Night – Vampire Hunter D

Elissa Alcala has a BFA in Fashion design from Parsons School of Design. Originally from the Lone Star State, she moved to Los Angeles soon after graduating and is now a member of local 705, the costumers union. She works with designers to help make their visions a reality, insure their finished ideas look their best on the actors and help keep the continuity. “I have always been making costumes and clothing for myself,” she says.  “It has been my dream to become a costume designer so it was only natural that I went to fashion design school to study techniques and design. The rest is history.”
Elissa admits that she tends to be inspired by the odd, unusual and things most people overlook in life. “I LOVE fine details and meticulous design aspects. They drive most people crazy but I live for them. My fabrics usually reflect a hard and soft aspect. I am a dreamer with big ambitious goals that I am determined to achieve. I love designing and am a huge nerd. I’m a cancer survivor with a new vigor of living life to the fullest. Being a nerd is a part of who you are.  Getting to wear clothing that looks amazing and shows off your nerdiness in a fashionable way makes you feel great and confident about yourself.”

Designer: Kristi Siedow-Thompson
Title: The Upside Down – Stranger Things

Kristi Siedow-Thompson is a fashion design student living in New York City.  She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in May. Kristi spent the last 10 years working in the graphic design industry as a corporate design director, branding manager, and print, web, and app designer. In 2015 she was a finalist in the Her Universe fashion show with her Star Wars inspired dress. As a result of this experience she realized she wanted to pursue fashion as a career. “I have always sewed on the side as my mother is a seamstress by trade,” she reveals. “I always made my own Halloween costumes and prom dresses. As an adult, my clients include aerial dancers, burlesque dancers, drag queens, cosplayers, and theater groups.”  In 2015 Kristi costumed New York Deaf Theater’s fall production, Captive Audience. She also was a finalist for the Fort Collins ArtWear runway show that same fall. She was also a FIT Women’s Wear Finalist for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation’s Design for Disability Gala this past May creating three custom gowns for women in wheelchairs that have adaptable features.
“Geek couture is where it’s AT for the future of women’s clothing,” Kristi says emphatically. “In the last 5 years, women have been more accepted into ‘Nerd-dom’ and we finally have the clothing to celebrate our love of fandoms big and small. Geek Couture is only going to grow.”

Designer: Candice Stephenson
Title: Style Never Dies  – Overwatch

Aside from her family and friends, art has been the most constant thing in Candice Stephenson’s life. She says it’s the language she uses to understand and explore the world around her. Originally from Kansas City, she moved to LA to pursue her dream of being a professional artist and has been working professionally in computer animation for close to 10 years now. Candice has taken an interest in everything from traditional painting and sculpture to cosplay and practical effects in her time outside of work. She says, “I love anything that give me the chance to create, and anyone who knows me will tell you that I always have a project …or five, at any given time. The more skills I can employ and the more immersive the final product is the better. And I think this is why fashion design appeals to me; creating something that works with the person wearing it and that others can interact with is so fulfilling to create.”
Designing was kind of an organic process for Candice. With her goal of being an art major as early as junior high, she started with character design, which led to costume design and making Halloween costumes. Then a friend, seeing a picture of her Halloween costume, introduced her to cosplay, which led to fashion design. Cosplay helped her learn sewing and construction skills. “Once I had those skills,” she says, “it was like the world of fashion design opened up to me; I actually understood the engineering behind pattern construction, so designing garments was something that seemed doable. Geek couture has been challenging the fashion industry for the last few years, specifically in terms of identity and access. To me, one of the underlying ideals I’ve noticed among my geeky circles is this idea of inclusion; that no matter who you are or what you look like, you can play with us.”

Designer: Ericka Angiuli
Title: Pure Imagination – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Ericka Angiuli is from Anaheim, California and comes from a very large and “very loud Italian family…yet I’m extremely shy and fairly quiet!”  She loves pizza, animals, tea, and all things nerdy. The majority of her past work is in ready-to-wear fashion. She says that as much as she loves making one-of-a-kind pieces, she really enjoys making clothing that everyone can wear. She has competed in the past two Her Universe Fashion Shows.
“I was a strange child and would only wear purple clothes, “she recalls. “It was my favorite color and I refused to wear anything that didn’t have purple on it. I also loved to mix prints. Kids R Us was my personal paradise with their bike shorts and oversized 90’s t-shirts. My grandma always thought I was crazy, but let me wear what I wanted to.” Growing up, her Grandmother was interested in the arts and took Ericka to the theatre. She was enamored by it, and hoped to be an actor someday. In Junior High school, she auditioned to be in drama and didn’t get in. Her alternative? Ericka’s high school offered Fashion Design, so she took it with the hope of making costumes for the theatre department. During the same time, she began doing extra work for film and television. Her first day on set she fell in love with the wardrobe department, and knew from that day forward, her future would involve fashion. “Geek couture has grown so much since the first Her Universe Fashion Show,” she says. “To me, it’s taking on a completely different name. It’s now more than having a comic based tee shirt made for girls; it’s providing girls/women with an opportunity to showcase a new kind of fashion. Geek couture is shedding a light on this by giving a platform to show young girls that you can be a scientist and a fashion designer at the same time.”

Designer: Chatam Smith
Title: Justice Rains From Above! – Overwatch

Chatam Smith, from Richmond, Virginia, grew up in Southern Virginia where he spent most of his childhood at the beach running around with his three siblings. He says that his entire life has been surrounded by creativity. He started sketching his first designs after watching the very first episode of Project Runway when he was 11-years old. “I was in theater all through middle and high school, which is where my creative talents began to shine,” he recalls. “From directing to costuming, I loved working in all the production aspects of the theater. I loved being behind-the-scenes to bring works of art to life.”
Through his experience and friends he was introduced to conventions and the cosplay community. “I hit the ground running with cosplay, taking every opportunity I had to work on costumes for the next convention. I quickly gained traction with my sewing skills, and from my meager beginnings I’ve managed to win several craftsmanship-based awards.” Chatam is currently the craftsmanship contest coordinator and judge for a local convention (Nekocon), and has judged craftsmanship competitions at several conventions up and down the east coast including Katsucon and AnimeNext. “My goal throughout my cosplay endeavors has been to move away from cosplay/costuming and work more toward fashion.” he adds. “Being entirely self-taught each new project comes with a laundry list of new challenges and chances to learn. I’m often inspired by a combination of everyday life and the fantastical realms of sci-fi and fantasy.”

Designer: Kelsey Michele
Title: This Was a Triumph – Portal

Texas-born, Indiana-raised, and now living in Florida, Kelsey Michele is and has always been an artist and a nerd at heart. Professionally, she works as a designer in the theme park industry, and though her job has her mainly focusing on sets, props, and attractions, she has occasionally designed costumes and uniforms for characters and employees based around historical, modern, and fantasy themes. Drawing was her passion from a very young age, often drawing fantasy creatures like centaurs and fairies. Throughout her teen years, her love of anime, cartoons, and superheroes was expressed through her art. It was only during college that she started to explore the worlds of fashion and costuming more thoroughly. “Being at an art school, you could pretty much throw a paintbrush and hit a cosplayer,” she says. “That’s where I first started to learn how to sew again and grew to love giving 3D, physical manifestations to the designs I was doodling between classes.”  Being mostly self-taught in sewing, she is always looking to expand her skills by taking on harder, more involved projects. “When I’m not drawing, patterning, sewing, or hot gluing my fingers together, I’m playing video or tabletop games with friends or visiting theme parks. I’ve always worn my nerdom on my sleeve, even when I have to make the sleeve myself!”
Kelsey has designed a number of “geek couture” outfits over the years for fun, a few of which have been fully realized as actual garments either by fans of her work online, by friends, or herself. “As I’ve gotten more into cosplay, I’ve taken to designing original costumes based on characters or extrapolating on existing designs with more historical or fashionable details,” she says. “Fashion can be many things, but whether it’s functional or simply fabulous, it should work to express something about the wearer. As a nerd with a penchant for good design and wish for more inclusion of feminine pursuits in comic books, gaming, and everything else the geek world contains, it’s an important way to carve out a space for others like me to support each other and celebrate all that we love about these characters and stories.”

Designer: Harmony Star Leiker
Title: As You Wish Dress – The Princess Bride

Harmony Leiker, from Los Angeles, California, spends her days massaging puppies for a living. This is her third year as a finalist in The Her Universe Fashion Show.  She loves the art of handmade and says the fashion show has completely changed her. “I’m more confident. I experiment more and I’ve met the most amazing people.” Teaching herself to sew when she was very young she relates that she used to be a costumer, but left the industry many years ago. Now, she mostly creates for herself and endlessly comes up with ideas for the fashion show. “Detail is the name of the game,” she says describing her work. “I like to make things that are pretty from a distance and stunning up close. I do a lot of hand construction and I’m something of a perfectionist. I am inspired by my favorite fandoms, history and fine art.”
Her entry this year for The Princess Bride is no exception to her previous work. “Since the film is centered around the telling of a story, the dress itself tells the tale of The Princess Bride through images.  I still remember when The Princess Bride opened in theaters. It has been my favorite film since that moment twenty years ago.” Harmony is thrilled that so much attention is being given now to geek couture. “Isn’t it amazing to watch this industry grow?! More and more I see people like myself proudly showing off what they love on their clothes. It’s not going anywhere and I’m so pleased. A few days ago on KROQ, Kevin Smith was talking about The Her Universe Fashion Show! I couldn’t believe it! I’m so proud to be here as the geek side of fashion begins its renaissance.”


Designer: Lindsay Meesak Orndorff
Title: Leader of the Pack – Princess Mononoke

Lindsay Meesak Orndorff lives in Orange County, California and has a career in another area she is passionate about – video games.  By day she is a mild mannered visual effects artist and by night she splits her time with sewing classes, Japanese lessons, and Yoga. She says, “I’m lucky enough to have a completely supportive spouse who puts up with all my ‘creative projects.’ And I have two cats who love to help me work on sewing projects!”
Lindsay’s love for fashion stemmed from her love of “geeky” fandoms and her desire to create things she really wanted to wear. Her past work has stemmed from her fandoms; starting out in cosplay, she was introduced to her love of sewing and fabrication. “I’ve done everything from sewing simple tops to creating large gowns,” she relates. “I’ve also created armor, and wings, and everything in between!” She says she truly became inspired when she started making clothing and dresses that she considered geek chic. “At the time, I didn’t feel like fashion was for me, and wanted to explore what that meant.” She has made personal items for herself and was a finalist in the very first Her Universe Fashion Show. “Being a part of the show has been huge for me because not only have I seen geek fashion rise to the forefront, but I’ve met some amazing designers along the way.”

Designer: Judith Ann Grivich
Title: I. Am. Groot.  – Guardians of the Galaxy

Judith Ann Grivich, from the San Francisco Bay area, describes her past work as “Pretty princess dresses and bad-ass-warriors. Nothing is safe.”  During the day, she is vice president at a bank. At night, she is hunched over a sewing machine or crouched in the garage laying fiberglass. She’s driven to create, and always seeks to challenge her current skills with more over-the-top creations.
Judith credits her grandmother for introducing her to sewing. “My grandmother was a single mother and sewed for craft fairs for additional income. She gave me my first sewing machine (From Fisher Price and sewed yarn!) and taught me how to make clothes for my Barbies. I’ve been making clothing ever since. I majored in theatre, worked in the costume shop, and eventually started attending cons in 1999. The only reason my friend got me to go to my first convention was that she mentioned that we would wear costumes.” Today, Judith sees geek fashion as an important part of the future of fashion. “Consumers are demanding more choice and more opportunities to present their personal sense of style than ever before,” she explains.  “Fashion is no longer about selling a uniform ‘look’ every season to a captive audience.”

Designer: Lauren Andrews
Title: Doctor Strange’ s Journey – Doctor Strange

Lauren Andrews is a self-described “comic book reading, doll collecting, cat lady from Studio City, California.  I have a bit of an obsession with high zany shoes, though I’m totally clumsy and likely to fall while wearing them, “she adds. A graduate of FIDM with degrees in costume and fashion design Lauren used to design bagged Halloween costumes for places like Walmart and Party City. “If you ever run across a sexy Washington crossing the Delaware costume – that’s my fault,” she says with a laugh.  Most recently she has been illustrating other people’s designs and creating designs and wigs for short films and local clubs. “I really just love fabric and turning something flat and rectangular into something with shape and life. It’s a really special experience.
“I’m not really happy unless I’m waist deep in creative projects,” she continues, “which usually results in collections of strange things lying around on the kitchen table scaring guests away. I’m a girly girl with a flair for the extreme. The probability I’ll be found spending my weekend drinking tea vs. riding roller coasters is about the same. I’m shy most of the time, but I feel more outgoing when I’m in or around outlandish clothing. I refer to my personal esthetic as ‘kitchen sink,’ it’s when you add everything, including the kitchen sink, and don’t hold anything back. (It’s also a delicious mantra to try with ice cream sundaes!)”


Designer: Rose Ivy
Title: Sorceress Supreme – Doctor Strange

Rose Ivy is a seamstress and costume maker from Claremont, California. She was a part of the Her Universe Fashion Show last year and had her first opportunity to put her work on the runway with her Star Wars General Hux design inspired by femme fatales of the 1940’s. She has been designing and sketching fashion ideas for the past few years as well as designing and creating inspired cosplay. She is currently working at a sewing studio where she creates custom garments as well as tailoring and re-purposing clothes.
“I am often tasked with making window displays for the sewing studio I work at (Cut Sew Stitch),” says Rose, “so I drape and make patterns on the mannequins we have available. I work in muslin and throughout the year we accessorize the dresses in different ways. I wanted different silhouettes that were timeless and flattering to the various mannequin sizes we have on display because I believe fashion is for everyone regardless of body type or size.”

Designer: Britley Morgan Smith
Title: A Heart of Kyber – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Britley Morgan Smith is a designer/cosplayer from Anaheim, California.  She has been interested in costume design since she was a child. Admittedly raised in an incredibly nerdy home, especially focused on Star Wars, Padme Amidala and Princess Leia Organa captured her imagination and never let go. She became obsessed with their looks and their spirits. “I decided that I wanted to become someone who created designs for characters as iconic as they were and have been working toward that goal ever since,” she says. “I spent all of my electives in high school taking art and graphic design classes through concurrent enrollment. I then went to the Art Institute of Orange County in their Fashion Design program, graduating in 3 years with my BFA.”
During her time in school, she interned at Shakespeare Orange County as a costume designer/costume manager and spent her first two years after school working for Creative Costuming and Designs as a digital pattern-maker for color guard, band, and dance costumes. She currently works as a design assistant for Michael Nicholas Designs making digital patterns for furniture, designing their brand image, and being in charge of their product photography. “I have also been cosplaying since I was in high school and during the past couple years have been working as a freelancer, creating commissions for cosplays,” she adds. “Wearing geek fashion is like wearing a badge of honor, and as geek culture becomes more and more widespread, it is moving up the chain into higher markets. Even Rodarte had a runway collection which featured scenes from Star Wars printed on their dresses. I look forward to the future and being able to draw strength from the characters I love by wearing them as inspiration.”

Designer: Rachel  Roth
Title: Tano Couture – Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Rachel Roth, from San Jose California, was practically raised on comic books and video games. As she got older she discovered her interest in sewing and eventually that led to cosplay. It quickly took over her life and ten years later she is still cosplaying strong and running her own geek fashion store. “I first started sewing with my grandma and was making my own clothing,” Rachel says. “Once I began cosplaying with my friends is when sewing really took off for me. So as soon as I graduated from high school I knew I had to go to fashion school ASAP.”
She graduated from FIDM with a fashion design degree and then created her own geek clothing store, Unicorn Sushi, and took on costume commissions on the side. For a year she worked at Sarah Seven as one of the main hand seamstresses doing lace detailing on their wedding dresses.  When it comes to her own designs, Rachel says she works with different types of fabric, combining soft feminine detailing with harsher bolder designs. She loves mixing different types of fabric texture as well as playing with different shapes in a garment and creating new silhouettes out of them. You can see this in her geek couture design for The Her Universe Fashion Show this year. “My design is inspired from my favorite spunky Jedi, Ahsoka Tano. I took a lot of inspiration from her last look in The Clone Wars.”

Designer: Tanya Apuya
Title: Ohana Means Fashion – Lilo and Stitch

Costume designer and creator, Tanya Apuya, is originally from San Pedro, California but now resides in West Hollywood. Most of Tanya’s previous experience has been in costume design and fabrication. After studying design in college she went on to work in a costume shop building various garments for a multitude of shows and musicals.  Since she was a child she has loved expressing herself through fashion. Forced into a mandatory uniform while attending a Catholic school, she expressed herself in little bouts of “fashion rebellion” – accessorizing her uniform in ways that was uniquely her and yet still adhering to the dress code.
This kind of creativity and her love to tell a good story led her to theater and costume design. “I love expressing who a person is through their clothing,” she says, “what they value and what they want from life. Even their plans for the day can all be spoken loud-and-clear by what they choose to put on their bodies without saying a word.” Her design this year for The Her Universe Fashion Show is a special one. “As we learn in Lilo and Stitch, ‘ohana’ means family, and family means no one gets left behind or forgotten. As a tribute to my own ohana, I wanted to combine the rich history and traditions from my immigrant family from the Philippines alongside those of Hawaiian culture into a modernized couture gown.”

Designer: Sam Skyler
Title: Wayfinder – Moana

Sam Skyler, from Wilton, California, grew up in a very creative environment and knew from an early age she wanted to be artist. “Being a professional artist, I feel very fortunate to have collaborated with many different teams and companies on a variety of projects, which helped shape the artist I am today,” she says. “Because I am truly passionate about nerd culture, a few years ago I started getting into cosplay, which is where my love of nerd culture, art, fashion and community were brought together. It’s been and continues to be a remarkable journey!”
Sam entered the fashion world around the same time she entered the first Her Universe Fashion Show in 2014. “That’s when I started cosplaying too, where I found my art and design background very helpful in constructing costumes. I feel fortunate to have won awards through my cosplay work, such as winning best in show at the WonderCon & SDCC Masquerades in 2015 as well as working with companies to help promote their video games as their characters. Cosplay has opened many doors in my professional and personal life, and I’m truly amazed by the passionate, hardworking and kind people I have been so fortunate to meet!” In all the pieces that Sam creates, she says she tries her absolute best to capture elements of a story or character that feel very inspiring. She has a strong enthusiasm for storytelling and being creative. Her design for this year’s fashion show has a personal element to it. “Moana is a character that I was instantly drawn to and could identify with in many ways,” she reveals. “I’m half Pacific Islander, so I was very excited to see this culture so beautifully represented and shared on the big screen for everyone to enjoy!”

Designer: Lynne Marie Martens
Title: Enchanted Rose- Beauty and the Beast

Lynne Marie Martens is a self described “California girl, Anglophile, geek, nerd, cosplayer and writer.”  She has a MFA in Costume Design from the CalArts and continues to design and sew for theatre, film, and web media world.  She has been sewing for twenty years and has been doing costume work for the past decade. Lynne Marie was one of the finalists in last year’s Her Universe Fashion Show and was even featured in a New York Times article on the event.
Her favorite fandoms are Doctor Who, Star Wars, Orphan Black, Marvel, Harry Potter, Disney and the Whedonverse.  Regarding her chosen design for this year’s fashion show, she says, “Beauty and the Beast has been my favorite Disney movie since it was first released. I identified so much with Belle in being a bit of a social outcast for being book-smart. I identified with the Beast, wondering if anyone would see me for who I really was and love me. I know every word of that movie and it won’t ever leave me. “

Designer: Caroline Liu
Title: From Rags to Riches – Cinderella

Caroline Liu is currently a technical writer in Dallas, Texas. She attended UT Dallas and received her B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering before deciding that she wanted a more flexible job that allows her to develop her interests in costuming and fashion. Aside from cosplay, her hobbies include rock hunting, gardening, and video games, and she says she is very much looking forward to adopting a cat of her very own one day! As a technical writer, how did she get into fashion design?  “My college friends were holding a Japanese fashion show in 2016,” Caroline answers, “and were looking for models as well as people who own pieces of certain fashion subtypes (ex: traditional fashion, Lolita, Mori Kei, uniforms). I signed up as a model for traditional and visual Kei fashions, but when we were notified that there wasn’t enough visual Kei clothing to go around, I quickly designed and made my own outfit within a week.”
While Caroline has predominantly made cosplay costumes, many of them are patterned from scratch without using commercially available patterns. “I do a lot of flat patterning, as well as draping on my body. Lately, I’ve used many textured fabrics or layering to add visual interest to otherwise plain designs. I like putting my own designer touches in my costumes, and am inspired and influenced by the opulent shine of burlesque costumes and the structured, sharp edges of military uniforms. Fashion throughout time has been a reflection of culture. As geek and nerd culture permeate into the mainstream, people like to outwardly show their fandom through everyday wear, akin to how sports fans love to wear jerseys of their favorite players, or how fashionistas like to carry a branded handbag by their favorite design house. Geek couture is another way to show a person’s love of a series or character that is important and meaningful to them.”

Designer: Adria Renee
Title: the Haute of Te Fiti – Moana

Adria Renee is a student, geek, and self-taught designer and artist from San Diego, California. Although she has had no professional experience in fashion design she has been a finalist in the past two years Her Universe Fashion Show. She says, “I have been sewing just over two years and in that time I’ve had great opportunities to learn and grow as a designer and seamstress in amateur capacities.” Her past work has been largely costume and cosplay based–working to create replicas of costumes from some of her favorite movies, shows, and comics, and building historical ensembles.  She has recently begun working on bringing some of her various vintage-inspired geek designs to life and branched into making regular fashion items for herself and others.
Adria relates that she has always been into fashion and costuming but that Her Universe gave her the first challenge to try her hand at designing and executing an original piece. “I grew up in a very artsy household surrounded by creative women who always found ways to make the best of what they had to work with–so that’s what I have always done as well,” she says. Prior to her first show, she had only put together humble costumes for her high school drama class, tore up and modified thrift store finds to update her wardrobe, and worked on a few Halloween costumes and cosplay for herself. “Since challenging myself to design for the show, however, I’ve continually pushed myself to keep up with more fashion (even if more geek inspired) designing and have started making everyday vintage-inspired fashion items for myself. Whether your clothing is your armor or your ice breaker, there is no better way to share who you are and what you love than with geek couture!”

Wow! Would you just look at that collection. It seems to get better every year! I can't wait to see what the designers come up with next