I can’t remember a time I did not love Labyrinth.
It feels like it has always been with me, always been a part of who I am. I’m sure that when I felt like things were most unfair, Sarah’s growth as a person helped me understand that sometimes things happen to us that aren’t fair. It sucks, but that’s just how it is. The fact that sometimes your words can get you into more trouble, and you should be careful what you wish for. That words have consequences. That David Bowie is amazing and gets away with wearing some really, really tight pants.
For those who are unfamiliar (and I keep finding you…) Labyrinth was a film released in 1986 starring Jennifer Connolly and David Bowie. It also features a horde of creatures designed by Brian Froud and brought to life by Jim Henson. It tells the story of Sarah Williams, a self-important fifteen year old who believes that her father and stepmother are out to ruin her life and resents the half brother she perceives as usurping her place in her father’s affections. A moment of weakness and bitterness and the words are said; ”I wish the goblins would take you away.”
Enter Jareth the Goblin King, capricious ruler of the Labyrinth and its denizens. He sings. The songs are unsurprisingly catchy and deep; they were written by Bowie. He announces “what’s said is said” and the only way for Sarah to retrieve her wished away brother is to run the Labyrinth and reach the Castle Beyond the Goblin City. Which she agrees to do. Adventure ensues with the heroine learning valuable lessons about life and growing up.
The short of it is that Labyrinth has a very loyal fan base. We’re quiet about it for the most part, but heavens forbid you tell us you haven’t seen it.
So imagine my awe when I find out that every year in Los Angeles, California there is a two-night masquerade ball called the Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade. Besides wandering in the woods my favourite thing is getting dressed up, whether for a fancy event or for a costume event. My boss at the time sent me the link on Facebook one week before the 2013 event. I came into work two days later and he came up to me and apologized for not being able to give me the time off because this was obviously an event that caters directly to me. Well, one year later I had the time booked off and was headed down to LA for my first LoJ.
The site states a very specific, if vague dress code: Formal wear with a mask or a costume befitting the Fantasy theme-imaginative costumes are strongly encouraged.
Obviously I am perfectly comfortable wearing outdoor gear and traipsing through the woods. That was the original point of the blog, after all. But you may not have known that I am also a huge fan of pageantry and haute couture designers. I love getting dressed up–like REALLY dressed up. Costumes, formal wear, the whole gamut. I’m a self-taught makeup artist though I don’t typically wear it on a day to day basis. I love costumes, and I love being able to go big with them. A quick gander through the photos on the Labyrinth webpage was at once intimidating and inspiring; costumes from professional designers, headpieces that left me speechless with awe, gowns and armor and fauns and nymphs and familiar characters and original characters and there was nothing I saw that told me my imagination needed to be reined in. Every photo told me that the only way I would be satisfied was to pursue a design of my own creation, and to design it as if I knew what I was doing.
So I prepared a gown unlike anything I had done before; thirteen metres of chiffon draped and pleated to craft a form-fitting bodice in the front and leaving my entire back open (I have an extensive back tattoo, and it seemed a pity to hide it). Of course, being a perfectionist I put it off to the last minute and made the thing in two weeks. I cried when it came together at the last minute and it worked. I beaded the straps, hand stitched the pleats, crafted the crown out of wire and picked out some simple gold jewelry. And I commissioned a sleeve of red scale mail, because I was, after all, a dragon.
And so I was headed to the ball.
My first year was the last year LoJ was held at the Park Plaza hotel. There are things I remember so fondly about that venue, but the air conditioning isn’t one of them. My dress, completely backless and sleeveless was a blessing as it allowed me to keep from overheating. Small blessings.
That weekend I found a place for the other side of myself.
I’ve known for most of my life that the readily accessible outdoors here on Vancouver Island made it a near-perfect environment for me. But there has never really been a place here for the part of me that goes above and beyond where costuming is concerned. For the first time in my life I found myself not the best dressed and It was amazing. I will remember forever the person who told me I did not look like a first-year. That was the moment I really felt like I had found a place where my attention to detail was truly appreciated and understood. Because as someone else told me; it was the details that took the ensemble into a higher category.
Last year, I took my friend Susanna’s words to heart. We go bigger every year.
1400 goose feathers, individually ironed, trimmed and stitched later, and I stand firmly beside that idea. But the real star of the show were my wings.
I had this idea for an owl-woman, which evolved into this white bird-woman. And of course she needed wings. The wing-design I found was truly amazing; it did not require an extensive harness and while contemplating the design I realized I could alter the design slightly to reduce the number of necessary visible fixtures. Adjustments made, I arrived Saturday night with a 12-foot wingspan, completely articulated, that disappeared when I put my arms down. Even better, I still had free use of my hands. After rock climbing, the hardware at my wrist–which may have seemed heavy–was not
so bad and I did not notice more than a slight tiredness in my muscles unless I held the wings open for several minutes. I could even dance with them. This was also the first year (and so far only year) where I had a Friday costume that was both simpler and completely different from the Saturday plan. It was a few pieces I already had, modified into a wildcat-woman. It was a great success, though not so much as the wings.
So this brings us to this year, 2016.
At the time I started writing this I had several ideas planned out, and had already assessed the he work involved with bringing them into being. But with the depression hounding me, the motivation to start working on a project that required so much time and effort seemed beyond my ability. So I opted to pursue a different kind of costume.
Several hundred dollars later I have become the owner of a wedding kimono and uchikake (over-kimono?). Plus a wig. I have decided to go to the ball as a kitsune-a Japanese fox-demon-in Oiran dress. Oiran are the prostitute-sisters to Geisha. Traditionally their hair is even more elaborate, their hair accessories numerous, and their Obi tied in front. If I can pull this off, it will be extremely visually stunning.
Of course, I am finishing this entry after the event itself and I know how it turned out.
But the point of this blog entry, is that there is another side of me that does not involve trekking out into the woods by myself.
And there are adventures that happen as much in your head as they do in real life, and this is definitely one of those.
So keep adventuring, but even more than that, keep dreaming.
-Not Lost Girl
What events or situations have stirred your own creativity? What dreams have become tangible for you? Tell me about it below.