Catching Fire – District 12 Set Diary – Part I

As Mockingjay Part 2 premieres in theaters, it brings an end to the era of The Hunger Games films. I had the great privilege of being able to work on Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part I, and Part II as a core background extra (meaning that I was there for many months of filming. Some crew joked that we were there more than the actors!). While most behind-the-scenes videos and commentary are understandably focused on the main cast and heads of crew departments, I thought I’d lend my voice to the little people – the professional blurs in the background. So without further adieu, here’s a background extra’s look at the behind-the-scenes of Catching Fire. Enjoy!

It was a brisk Saturday morning in October 2012. At 3:30am, I rolled off the air mattress on my friend’s floor to pack my bag and head out for my first day ever as an extra on a film set. (What a set to start on, right? I couldn’t start on a small film to get my feet wet. Oh no, as per usual, I had to go for the gusto!) I had no idea what to expect, but I packed my little bag with a book and some light snacks and headed off to set.

Upon arrival, I got my first lesson in the game that extras know how to play best – waiting in line. Waiting in line to check in. Waiting in line to drop off cellphones. Waiting in line for wardrobe. Waiting in line for hair and makeup. (Though I’ve now come to enjoy waiting in line at extra gigs as there usually at one engrossing conversation going on Or the amusing antics of punch-drunk-sleepy extras at the bum-crack of dawn).

Briana Lamb District 12

Photo courtesy of Continuity

I was cast as one of the many thin, plain looking District 12 extras (between this and The Walking Dead, I fear I’m getting typecast. Hehe). I changed into my costume and shuffled into the back of the makeup line. After an hour of doing my best not to complain about the nippy cold outside (a stamping of feet still happened despite best efforts), I was ushered inside the (slightly) warmer tent. I found that I was one of the last of a few hundred extras to plop down in the makeup chair. I had just settled in when an exasperated Production Assistant came running in, “The extras aren’t dirty enough! They’re getting to set and the director says they’re just not dirty enough. This is a coal mining town. Get that dirt in their pores!”  And get the dirt in my pores they did…

Only about 7 shades darker than my usual pale as snow.

Only about 7 shades darker than my usual pale as snow.

By the end of the three days of filming of those scenes, I garnered the reputation for being the dirtiest extra on set (that stuff was fun to wash off, lemme tell ya. Took almost a week to get the dirt out from under my fingernails). This ended up working in my favour though as because I was so dirty, the Assistant Director wanted me up front to better represent the look of the district. Funny how that works, eh?

After makeup came hair. One of my favourite parts of the daily lineup. (I’m the gal that’ll sometimes fall asleep in the chair because getting my hair and face fussed with can be rather relaxing.) The look for District 12 was based on Depression Era Appalachia, so the wardrobe and hairstyles were simple. Some had their hair down, some had braids, but nothing too intricate. I overheard the hair stylists double-checking their lookbook notes, “No down braids of any kind on any of the female District 12 extras. That is reserved for Katniss only.” Fair enough.

As the stylist started doing my hair, I felt a familiar shape taking hold….She was doing the iconic Katniss braid on me. I remarked on that as I didn’t want her to inadvertently get in trouble for giving me a braid (silly me thought she might be a day-player. Oh no, she had done the Katniss braid on Jennifer Lawrence before, so she knew exactly what she was doing). “Oh don’t worry, hun. I’m doing this as an updo, so you won’t have a down braid.” Good! Because my hair looks like a rat’s tail when it’s braided….but then she secured the braid with only two small bobby pins. I politely let her know that my hair is a thin, slippery son-of-a-gun, so more bobby pins would be a good idea. She waved me off, “nah, you’ll be fine!

The extras piled into a pair of coach buses that drove us over to a holding tent just outside of set (which happened to be the Goat Farm Arts Center in Atlanta). The sun broke over the horizon as we filed in to claim a spot at the tables laid out inside. Then began the long wait….

Photo courtesy of paparazzi who thought they were going to get pictures of the cast. Hah!

Photo courtesy of paparazzi who thought they were going to get pictures of the cast. Hah!

A small handful of extras were called in for the first two scenes. I, however, was not called in until many hours later for the last scene of the day. But time is rarely ever wasted among extras who are friendly and a wee bit creative. I had the fortune of sitting at a table of fun, chatty folks. As I was a complete newbie at the time to being an extra, I was full of questions and bright-eyed cheeriness. I made some fast friends.

Now, remember the two small bobby pins I mentioned holding my hair up earlier? Surprise, surprise, they fell down. So there I sat with my Katniss braid laid over my shoulder. Of course I couldn’t find where the bobby pins had launched off to in order to resecure my hair. “Don’t worry, the hair stylists will see you on set and immediately stick your hair up. No Katniss braids for anyone in District 12!” the other extras said playfully. Well, the hair stylists did come around to check the extras before a group went on to set and not a single comment was made about my hair. This got the wheels turning at our table.

One of the things we did to pass the time was create characters for ourselves. Who were we? What roles did we play in District 12? One of the odd things that happened earlier on in the day was folks telling me I looked like Katniss. Not the Jennifer Lawrence version, but that I reminded them more of book Katniss (sans colouring). So I rolled that into the creation of my character, Ora; a factory worker who separated the coal and the ore (hence the name and an explanation as to why I was SO covered in soot!). She idolizes Katniss Everdeen, but alas, is not the brightest bulb in the box. Whatever Ora see Katniss do, she tries to replicate, only fails miserable. For instance, she tries to be the ‘girl on fire’, but doesn’t understand the stunt in the arena was synthetic fire. So she runs through town with a torch, but ends up singeing off half of own hair (explanation of why my hair is so thin).

And thus ‘Reverse Katniss’ was born.

Reverse Katniss

Another extra made this shirt for me for the Mockingjay Part I premiere.

The other extras at my table came up with equally interesting characters as well. One guy was Pumpernickel, rival baker to Peeta (as the extra looked alot like Josh Hutcherson). He thought he was a better baker, but in fact was much worse, not being able to quite tell the difference between rocks and bread. (On set he’d try to pass off rocks as food.)  There was Buttons, seamstress, babysitter, and tutor to Prim. Then Star, the town prostitute who didn’t actually sleep with anybody, just stole their supplies (and had a chastity belt ala Robin Hood: Men in Tights hidden under her way-too-large costume). My personal favourite was Hingle McCringleberry, mechanic and general fixer-upper who purposely didn’t fix things completely so he could get more work. Only spoke in the 3rd person. (I’m still friends with that lovely extra to this day. He looks like a mini-Cinna.)

It finally came time where we were all called to set. The scene set was where Katniss returns to District 12 via train to greet her family and the adoring throngs of District 12 to welcome her home. But all is not well as you can see in the deleted scene below.

Can you spot me? 🙂

Catching Fire Train SceneCatching Fire Train Scene

While filming this scene we discovered that Jennifer Lawrence and I are the same height. (There was some talk of me coming back to be cast as her stand-in for Mockingjay, but only if her current stand-in didn’t return. While that would’ve been fun, I’m glad the original stand-in returned. She was lovely, professional, and super funny.)

One thing that was not so pleasant was getting my foot crunched by Josh Hutcherson who was hugging his ‘family’ too fast. There wasn’t an easy opening for me to slip into due to extras who were bent on being camera hogs (there were SO MANY). He moved too fast and I didn’t move fast enough. I think one of the family extras mentioned something to him because the subsequent takes were slower. But such things happen on film sets. No harm was done and it was an honest accident. Nothing to get upset over. So I kept quiet and happily went on filming the rest of the scene.

That’s a wrap on Day One of my first ever extra gig! Stay tuned for Part II!

Her Universe and Hot Topic’s Star Wars Collection

Her Universe Hot Topic Star Wars CollectionHer Universe and Hot Topic have partnered together again to release a Star Wars themed collection for geek girls everywhere just in time for the new film. Following their successful Avengers collection, more fandom-themed dresses, jackets, and tees are already flying off the shelves in stores and online. As before, this line features a few costume-esque pieces, but none too garish as to be straight up cosplay. Probably more suited for the convention scene or having lunch with friends than to wear to work, but it’s nice to even have these options after years of being relegated to scrounging through the guys department for a decent geeky tshirt.

I’m really digging the fashion editorial vibe they went with for the photoshoot with it’s desert backdrop and strategically placed futuristic props. Alas, the fashion still isn’t quite my cup of tea as I prefer longer, more tailored pieces (partially due to personal visual aesthetic and partially due to personal body proportions). So I’ll be passing this collection up, but seeing as there’s quite a few different body types and a myriad of style preferences out there, I’m sure there are some gals this collection would look fabulous on! (Although I am debating about that sweet-looking leather Darth Vader jacket….) But without further adieu, here’s a view of the entire collection.

Her Universe Hot Topic Darth VaderHer Universe Hot Topic Darth VaderHer Universe Hot Topic Darth VaderHer Universe Hot Topic Darth VaderHer Universe Hot Topic BB8Her Universe Hot Topic Princess LeiaHer Universe Hot Topic Boba FettHer Universe Hot Topic Boba FettHer Universe Hot Topic R2D210445197_Darth-Vader-Knit-Sweater_49.5010445337_SW-The-Force-Awakens_Tour-Tee_28.50Photographs © Fashionably

Tomb Raider – The Photoshoot

As mentioned in the previous post, in May 2013, I teamed up with Dim Horizon Studios to do a photoshoot of my Tomb Raider costume. But being the oddball sort I am, I couldn’t just do a standard shoot. Oh no, I had to make it like a mini film project, complete with location scouting and script.

The story is basically a one-day diary entry (which I came up with from one of the early videos of the new game where Lara is writing in a journal). It takes place a few days after the initial shipwreck as I wanted to keep it early on in the game. I didn’t want to go too far into the game to avoid spoilers (well, that, and less props to deal with it. Had to make it easy on myself somehow!). In the spirit of the game, the story is basic survival (with a little dash of humour thrown in as my little rebellion against the game being so dark. That’s my only personal gripe with the new Tomb Raider is the shift to more survivalist horror than Indiana Jones/Bond-style adventure. But that’s just my own personal preference.). Without further adieu, here is the photoshoot!

It happened so fast…My ship, the Endurance, is gone, torn in half like a broken toy.

20130413-IMG_7032-Edit-Edit1As I climbed up the river bank, I laughed because I survived, and laughed until I cried. I wanted adventure, but this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

20130413-IMG_7157-Edit-EditThey don’t ever tell you how cold the nights are, how…sticky blood is, or that no matter how many times you throw your clothes in a river, the dirt never really comes out.

20130413-IMG_7432-Edit-EditWhen I first crawled up the bank and into the woods, I left a trail of blood behind me.

20130413-IMG_7390-Edit-EditMy wounds had long since gone numb, but that hadn’t stopped the blood from dripping out. I put a stop to it in the only way I could: bandages, as tight as I could make them, and then some.

20130413-IMG_7641-Edit-EditI remember screaming with pain, but the hoarse shouts sounded like someone else’s voice.

20130413-IMG_8035-Edit-EditIf I didn’t find fresh water soon, I knew I wouldn’t live to scream again.

20130413-IMG_8089-Edit-Edit-4When you’re truly alone, all you can think about is the next step. Your mind screams for home, for a safe place, but in a place like this, the next step is all you have.

20130413-IMG_7374-Edit-EditPutting one foot in front of the other, I began to explore my surroundings, determined to find any source of water this god-forsaken island could offer.

20130413-IMG_7912-Edit-Edit1At first I thought I was imagining the roaring sound in my ears….

20130413-IMG_7616-Edit-Edit…but when I came across a waterfall, it was as if my prayers had been answered.

20130413-IMG_8152-Edit-Edit1What a beautiful sight that water was to behold.

20130413-IMG_8179-Edit-EditI drank all I could manage and more, trying in vain to fill a vast emptiness inside me. It was the sweetest water I’ve ever tasted; I think I’ll carry the memory of that taste for the rest of my life. I had no bottle though, so I couldn’t take any with me. Note to self: Look for a thermos tomorrow at the wreckage site.

20130413-IMG_8285-Edit-EditAs I rested, basking in the cool refreshment, I became lost in the dark thoughts plaguing my mind since the wreck. A noise in the forest brought me back to reality.

20130413-IMG_8367-Edit-EditFor a moment, all I could hear was my heartbeat, when sudden movement nearby had me up on my feet, bow in hand.

20130413-IMG_8460-Edit-EditThat’s when I heard it, a terrible, echoing howl….I didn’t stay to find out what manner of creature that unnatural sound belonged to.

20130413-IMG_8552-Edit-Edit20130413-IMG_7849-Edit-Edit-4I ran as fast as I could back to the safety of camp. It took me a long time to catch my breath afterwards, but I left the howling far behind.

20130413-IMG_8537-Edit-EditNow I use the last bits of sun to write in my journal, one of the few things that miraculously survived the wreck. Alone, hurt, but unbroken, I will survive on this island no matter what. I dare not venture back into the jungle in the dark; one wrong step could break a leg, or a neck. I have no food or water left, and I’m so very, very hungry…

20130413-IMG_8703-Edit-Edit…but I know I have to be strong. I can do this. This island will not defeat me.

Photograph: Dim Horizon Studio
Makeup: Matt Silva
Costume and props by: Me, Meredith Placko, Austin Sirkin (holster), Adam Greene, Carter Eastis, Kristen Anne
Hair: Gregory Dobrasz
Script: Me, Austin Sirkin, Philip Maddox

Tomb Raider 2013

TombRaider_hero_SurvivorIn April of 2013, there was a reboot of one of my favourite video games of all time – Tomb Raider. I grew up with the games, first playing the games at a friend’s house, then becoming obsessed with the movie versions (In middle school I ran around in black tees and shorts with my hair in a French braid. I was meticulous about getting those two bangs in place). I had a great love of adventure stories and games, so here was this seemingly perfect combination of a female Indiana Jones and James Bond, yet still a character in her own right. I couldn’t help but like her and for lack of a better phrase, BE her.

I grew up with a very devil-may-care attitude that I cultivated from Tomb Raider, watching too many adventure/sci-fi movies, and being in paramilitary programs (CAP, JROTC). So I had a habit of running off to do things like four-wheeling, gun ranges, multiple forms of martial arts, fencing, almost getting my pilot’s license at 15, search and rescue exercises, survival training, and obstacle courses.

Fast forward to adulthood, whereupon I discovered both cosplay. I was so excited that as soon as concept artwork was released, I went to town to begin my costume. Truth be told, I wasn’t confident that I could pull off classic Lara Croft with her sexy, grown-up woman face (I feel like I tend to look more like a kid). So when I saw her new look, I just about jumped out of my skin. Now here was a version I could pull off! There was no question. I had to do it.

I poured my all my years of yearning to do a Tomb Raider costume into it. I researched for 2 years on the screen-accurate materials, colours, and props. Friends taught me how to distress, make the props, and basic archery form to take it to the best level of realism.

Tomb Raider The Lady NerdTwo years later, I had the costume finished despite eBay mishaps and it being one of the first major costumes I had done. I was so proud of the work that had done that I was chomping at the bit to photograph it. But I didn’t want to do just the same ol’ cosplay portraiture. I wanted to do something different. Being a storyboard artist, my brain naturally went to creating a story. I decided to run with this idea of narrative and wrote up a script. Then it was time to figure out who would be crazy enough to shoot it…

Enter Dim Horizon Studios.

Dim Horizon BioshockI had stumbled across Dim Horizon Studios while searching Dragoncon photos the year before. I saw their iconic Bioshock photograph was blown away. So I immediately found their Facebook page and started following them. When I put up the casting call for a photographer, they shot me a message to throw his name in the ring. I was giddy to oblige as I had been wanting to work with them quite badly. In addition to photographic talent, Matthew and Nicole Nicholson are some of the loveliest folks you’ll ever meet. Add in Matt Silva of Black Tie FX for special effects makeup (of Face-off and insanely good hair fame) and Adam Greene of Pixelbash Props for various assisting duties (he made the necklace I’m wearing out of real jade!). Hard-working, easy going, loveable geeks, the lot of them. They listened to my harebrained scheme, put up with my desire to trek all the way down to the pools of Cloudland Canyon, Georgia to shoot (bless you, Nicole), and even fed me afterwards.

Hungry Lara Croft(Lara was a bit hungry after surviving that island….)

20130413-IMG_7546-Edit Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post of the photoshoot (complete with script!)
20130413-IMG_7550-Edit 20130413-IMG_8641-Edit(Seriously, can I have his hair?)

Katniss’ Hunting Outfit – Part I

Katniss_hunting12I swing my legs off the bed and slide into my hunting boots. Supple leather that has molded to my feet. I pull on trousers, a shirt, tuck my long dark braid up into a cap, and grab my forage bag.

First costume on the list for The Katniss Project is Katniss’ Hunting Outfit! From the description given in the book this outfit consists of…

– Long dark braid tucked up into a cap
– Shirt
– Trousers
– Supple leather hunting boots
– Forage bag
– Hand-crafted bow, sheath of arrows all in waterproof covers

(Extra bonus prop: “…a perfect little goat cheese wrapped in basil leaves. Prim’s gift to me on reaping day.“)No other descriptions are given than that, so this is where the fun comes in. I get to create it! So let’s start from the top, shall we?

While The Hunger Games is set in the future, it is a dystopian one that regresses the fashions of the districts. They aren’t wearing the latest in textile technology, but harken back to simpler times. I imagine the style of each district would be tied to its particular overall vocational trade. District 12 is the mining district. Then, looking at Panem basically being the USA, District 12 is roughly Appalachia. So in that regard, I completely agree with the first movie’s decision to go with a Depression-era Southern mining town look.

Throughout the books Katniss is described as having a regular braid down her back, not a side braid as made iconic by the film. While I do so love the look of the side braid, I find the back braid to be more practical. (For Shannan’s costume from the book series, Allon, I designed her with a side braid (yes, I did that before the Hunger Games films came out, so the look was a coincidence). I instantly regretted that decision when I took an archery lesson and found the side braid got in the way. So for that reason, and because Suzanne Collins wrote it as such, I will be sticking with the back braid.

Now comes the trickier part….the cap. What sort of hat would Katniss wear? Although District 12 is a mining district, Katniss herself is not a miner, so no hard hats. I’m learning towards the softer worker type hats as pictured below. Though I’m not sure if the bill would get in the way of her archery at all (I’ve only done archery once. I’m more of a swordswoman) So I’ll going to have to do more research.
Types of mens hatsShirt
There is no description for this item other than the noun for what it is. What kind of shirt? What season is it? Is it long-sleeve, short sleeved? Fitted? Loose? The first few lines of the first chapter mention Katniss feeling the cold of the bed or looking for her little sister’s body warmth. Considering that Catching Fire is set during the winter time, it’s likely the first book is set in autumn. My mind wanders to henleys, waffle knit tops, more thermal type base layers. Not anything light to let the wind go through and keep her shielded with some warmth outdoors. Definitely strongly sewn together, though perhaps a bit of wearing out at the most rubbed against seams (like shoulders). I wonder what a good shirt for hunting would be. Hmm….

In terms of fit, the shirt would most likely be an average to loose fit as the districts aren’t known for their tailoring. Being fitted is usually a sign of something being either too small or richly made (oh yes, even the tight tank top you get from Forever 21 would be extravagant for District 12 as mass-produced clothing was doubtfully made. More likely clothing was made on a much smaller scale or individual basis with trade between the districts).

No mention of Katniss’ father’s hunting jacket is mentioned in the first chapter, so I’m going to assume she’s not wearing it. Though I find it odd as it seems to be cool in this part of the book so I would assume she would have that extra layer of protection. Mm….now I’m debating whether to include it or not. Decisions, decisions.

I’m going to have to do some research into this one as to what sort of pants hunters would’ve worn in time before mass-produced polyester activewear. I originally thought corduroys might be a good choice due to their rugged look, but a friend nixed that idea as the activity of going through the brush or chasing down game would wear out the fabric quickly. Not being familiar with wearing corduroy myself, I’m not sure how accurate that is. But I think once I settle on the type of material the pants will be made out of, it’ll be quite easy to find at a local Goodwill or eBay. Though I do see a lot of denim or similar material in various Appalachian photographs. So I may go along that route (but not blue jeans, something more in the brown family).
Appalachian Hunters(from

A belt will most likely be in order as I’ve seen many workers of ages past using belts to hold their pants up. Katniss is supposed to be small so clothes would hang on her a bit, thus a belt would be appropriate. Now, to pockets or not to pockets. That is the question…

Although for sheer lack of proper funds and laziness, I’ll most likely reuse my Tomb Raider boots for the final costume (unless I just happen across a cheap pair of supple brown leather boots). The only difference between my Tomb Raider boots (a lovely pair of Timberland Dusseldorfs – picture right) and Katniss’ boots (picture left) is that they are a hard leather instead of supple. But other than that, they would be perfectly suited to running around chasing game (I know this for a fact as I spent 15 hours doing a photoshoot in those boots while scurrying down ravines, over rocks, and up mountains).

Bow, Quiver, and Arrows
For the bow, I’d love to do a handcrafted wooden bow. I could buy one, but I’d sure love to make one myself. One of my roommates has a wooden lathe and likes archery, so it may be a fun project to do at home sometime.

For the quiver, I’m not sure what kind of quiver she would’ve had access to (i.e. what her dad made). So I’ll do more research into that.

For the arrows, I might reuse the ones I made for my Tomb Raider costume (wooden shafts with turkey feathers) as I think those would be adequate. Katniss’ arrows would also likely be handmade as her bow.
Tomb Raider
*** Gloves? (For archery and for picking up freshly killed game)
*** Knife? (For killing/cleaning game and general hunting. Though that may be in her bag and not on her belt)

If you happen to have any suggestions, knowledge, or opinions that might help, feel free to leave a comment! 🙂

The Katniss Project

mockingjay pinI’ve recently come to the decision that I’m going to be backing off doing traditional cosplay (i.e. exact character reproductions) for a few reasons. One, there are a bazillion other cosplayers out there, including tall, thin brunettes, who have many more resources to pop out multiple costumes a year. In addition to drama, I don’t like the unspoken competition that’s arisen due to online comparisons and follower favourites. When you’re doing exact costume reproductions, it’s very easy to fall prey to that unfortunate trap. I’d rather steer clear of it as best as I reasonably can.

Two, I want to add a unique voice to the community. There are any costumers out there, including ones who do amazing original designs. But none of them have my voice. Only I do. And with that I want to challenge myself to new heights and bring along my followers in the process (even better yet if I can help inspire or practically others along the way). Oh I’ll still do regular cosplays when the mood strikes (like I’m going to pass up doing Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. HAH!), but from now on I’m going to focus more on geek fashion, geek couture, and original takes on existing characters. Which brings me to my first concentrated foray into said direction.

Welcome to The Katniss Project.

It’s not secret that I have a special fondness for The Hunger Games series from having worked on 3 out of the 4 films (more on that in upcoming posts). While re-reading the books on set one day, the thought struck me….why not try designing Katniss’ costumes for myself? Read through and act as if I was creating all of her mentioned outfits for a film. The more I rolled the idea around in my head, the more it grew on me. Soon, I couldn’t contain my excitement and had to tell others about it. My fellow District 12 extras snickered that, “well…you ARE Reverse Katniss. You have that nickname for a reason. Go for it!”

The Hunger GamesI’m extremely excited about this project. Some costumes will be easy, some will be hard, and well…some might need some crowd-funding to actually come to fruition (the infamous fire dress, anyone?). But it will be a fun challenge to design each costume from scratch, paying close attention to the exact words Suzanne Collins wrote in the books. (If there’s one thing I’ve learned with working with authour, Shawn Lamb on art for her Allon book series, is to pay attention to how the authour describes the costumes in his or her book. It’s a respect issue.)

The next challenge will be one of my favourite parts of the design process – the research. The thinking through of why would the character be wearing this particular outfit and how? What sort of fabrics would he or she have access to? What colours? What sizes? How long would the material last based on their state of wealth or poverty? How does their personality factor into their clothes? With Katniss, there’s a huge range in her outfits due to going from the poorest of the Districts to the highest riches of the Capitol. That will be quite fun to experiment with.

Since this is a project, there will be ongoing progress posts. So it won’t just be my normal finished photoshoot with behind the scenes notes in the same post. I want to bring the community in on this one (kind of like a design team). Someone out there may have better knowledge of Appalachian fabrics of the Depression era while another may have a tip or tick to sew a stubborn part of one of the costumes. I came from a professional costuming background (as pre-car accident, I was professional film costumer), so the cosplay community’s penchant for working solo on an entire project is a bit foreign to me. Obviously, some people are just that insanely talented. But most of us aren’t (and that’s okay!). Teamwork makes us richer. The combined experiences makes the project better. So I’ll be opening up the floor with this project both in blog posts, but especially on my Facebook page. (So follow there for a lot more updates and interactive statuses!)

The List 
For now, I will only be doing Book One (which is going to be challenging enough!)
1) District 12 Hunting Outfit
2) Blue Reaping Dress
3) Tribute Apartment Casual Outfit (dark green shirt and pants)
4) Capitol Grooming Robe
5) Tribute Parade Suit
6) Arena Training Uniform
7) Practice Gown
8) Girl on Fire Interview Gown
9) Nightgown
10) Pre-Arena shift
11) Arena Uniform
12) Hospital
13) Award Ceremony dress
14) Post-arena Interview Dress
15) Post-interview Outfit

Back to the Future Couture

Back to the Future 2015The day has arrived where the infamous Marty McFly appears from the past via the time-traveling DeLorean (from the 1989 film Back to the Future Part II for those not in the know). While posts online are all abuzz with the differences between what 2015 was supposed to look like versus the reality of now, I think there’s a lot to be said for how far we’ve come as a society for creativity. Sure, scientific advancements may not have us all on hoverboards, but there have been many advances in medicine and technology (hello smartphones!) that would still make Marty McFly ooo and aah.

The same, I believe, can be said of clothing design. While we don’t have self-tailoring jackets or immediate air dry, we are on the cusp of some very interesting 3D printed apparel. Not to mention more sophisticated design work than the um…’unique’ choices in the film of what 2015 clothing would look like.

Back to the Future 2015But I’d like to focus on the design aspect some more. Having studied a bit of fashion and costuming history, we have entered into an era where almost anything can be designed (and in most cases, made). With materials like worbla, neoprene, acrylic, etc. there’s more room for creative exploration by the average person. What was once relegated to Fashion Week-level couture designers, can now be made on a personal scale. How exciting!

One such exciting venue (near and dear to my heart, of course) is geek fashion design. Last year at the first annual Her Universe Geek Couture Fashion Show, geeks from all over the US creatively explored ideas of their favourite characters or fandoms in apparel form. But one such design (the winner, in fact) stood out as being perfectly appropriate for today.

Amy Beth Christenson designed and made the winning piece humorously titled, “Great Skirt, Marty!

great-skirt-marty-runwayI knew I really wanted to do a ‘Back to the Future’ outfit ’cause it was huge for me growing up. It made a big impact on me and what I wanted to do growing up,” Christenson told HitFix in an interview. (She now is a senior concept designer and visual development artist for Lucasfilm Animation.)

In lieu of doing my own interview with Christenson (I thought of the idea too late), I thought I’d showcase what I could find of the making-of this fun outfit. For the fantastic DeLorean jacket, Christenson used a very lightweight marine vinyl that had a brushed metal, stainless steel appearance and was easy to work with. To make the “exhaust vents” on the back of the jacket, she hand-quilted upholstery batting and black spandex. (My fingers hurt just thinking about it!)

GreatSkirtMartysketchThe belt features the DeLorean logo and grill on the front and tail lights on the back. Christenson 3D printed the front belt piece in plastic after digitally building it using the program, Maya.

great-skirt-marty-belt-coverOn the back of the belt, each tail light was created by layering reflective aluminum tape, clear ribbed shelf liner, and colored light gels. A frame was then 3D printed with a flexible rubber so the belt could bend easily and not break. (It’s amazing how far we’ve come to be able to custom-make accessories like this. I’m still wrapping my head around non-fabric materials, myself.)

great-skirt-marty-belt-lightsAs any Back to the Future fan knows, dramatic fire trails spit out from behind the DeLorean leaves when it revs up to travel through time. Bet you can’t guess which part of the outfit that shows up in! Christenson bought a pair of Hue black tights and airbrushed them yellow, orange and red with fabric dye. (I wish I had known about airbrushing a pair of tights rather than using actual paint and a paintbrush. Oh those tights looked horrible…)

great-skirt-martyAnd last but not least, Christenson commissioned Johnna Joy Murch to make a few matching pieces of jewelry to go with the outfit. Murch created a 4 piece set of radiation hazard earrings, a barcode choker necklace, cuff bracelet with the Mr. Fusion logo, and clutch purse which featured the DeLorean’s futuristic barcode license plate.


What fantastic times we live in to be able to create these type of things! Although I’m still waiting on my hoverboard… *stamps foot*

Photos:, Amy Beth Christenson

Sci-fi Photoshoot

Sci-fi HeroineAlas, I’m still holed up with pneumonia over here. This past year has been one of the worst years on record for me health-wise, from a near-fatal car accident to catching some major bugs going around (I’ve had this latest one for almost a month). My immune system is rather shot.

So alas, my days of creating and modeling have been at a standstill. But I just got in some pictures from a shoot I did a couple months ago with visiting NYC Photographer, Richard Scalzo. One of my favourite makeup artists, Dustin of DSL Design and Talent was also on board for the shoot, so it was a fun team to work with. There were a few different looks done (corporate, fitness, etc.), but this one was by far my favourite (bet you can’t guess why…)!
Sci-fi HeroineI got to reuse my old Catwoman suit, donned a pair of light-up cyber glasses from Illumi Nation (which I’ve been eyeing for a potential Ingress Resistance costume I’m designing. Yeah yeah, I’m a nerd), and stepped up to shoot as a sci-fi heroine. I loved Scalzo’s lighting scheme for this, rather reminiscent of the new Star Trek posters. It made me feel like I was doing a promo shoot for a sci-fi movie or TV show. 🙂Sci-fi Heroine(And with Exhibit A here you can see how ridiculously long my torso actually is! Finding tops and dresses long enough is a real joy, lemme tell you.)
Sci-fi heroineFun fact: The gun I’m holding is a prop blaster from the 1980s show, V. I grew up knowing the show from my Dad and enjoying the new series (although good heavens did it end badly when they discovered they were being cancelled. ‘Twas a pity).

Kevin Wada – Comic Fashion Illustrator

Kevin wada xwomen(My apologies on the lack of blogging lately. I went from starting a new job to Dragoncon madness to progressively coming down with pneumonia all in the last month. Oi vey, I’m tired….)

Now I would be remiss in running a geek fashion blog without mentioning the likes of popular illustrator, Kevin Wada. His works have graced the covers of many a comic publisher and convention hall. From character portraits to comic-themed fashion illustrations (my personal favourite), Wada paints a mesmerizing dance of colours and patterns to spark the visual senses.

Kevin Wada X-Fashion
His major delve into the geek fashion side was with the X-Fashion series in 2013, where Wada and his friend and Max Wittert took the beloved females of the X-Men world and drew out their personalities in a fierce fashionista lineup.
Kevin Wada 90s RealnessWith a unique brush of watercolours, Wada blends the seemingly opposed worlds of fashion and comic. Paint is not, especially absent of the thick link of ink, is not an often soon technique used to render comic characters. But it is an increasingly popular choice for covers and personal illustrations.
Kevin Wada Magneto's FamilyBlack Widow Anka Original
Black Widow in an Anka Original gown

Catwoman in Chanel

Kevin Wada PsylockePsylocke in Alexander Mcqueen

Kevin Wada Lorna DaneLorna Dane (Polaris) in Beyonce’s On the Run tour outfit

Kevin Wada MagnetoShe HulkYou can see more of his work at the links below:

The Lady Nerd’s Dragoncon 2015 Costume Lineup

Salutations everyone!

So here is my lineup for Dragoncon this year. (I’m keeping it simpler this year, nothing to extragavant, new, or crazy as I don’t know how much I’ll be able to handle given my post-accident stamina). But if you happen to spot me, do come say hi!

The Lady Nerd Dragoncon 2015
1) Yokai from Big Hero 6
This is definitely 100% different from anything I’d normally do, but it’s for a special reason. Back in 2013, I met a wonderful family of cosplayers (a dad, mom, a girl, and boy) with whom I just hit it off. They even visited me in the hospital last year when they came up from Dragoncon (as a complete surprise to me!). I promised I would cosplay with them this year. On my meager budget, I’m borrowing from their closet. Since they’re doing a Big Hero 6 group and the gals are taken, I thought I’d hide under a mask. Like ya do.

2) Lady Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey
I have a soft spot for the period soap opera, along with some other of my fancy dress friends. So I’ll be donning Lady Mary again for a Downton Abbey panel and photoshoot on Friday evening. Now if only my boyfriend (who looks strikingly like Matthew Crawley) was into cosplay…

3) Tomb Raider
Aww yeah, she’s back! It didn’t seem right to return to Dragoncon after almost dying last year without doing my best known costume (not to mention the symbolism behind it). And yes, I will be looking THAT dirty and bloody on the con floor.

4) May “Mayday” Parker  from Spider-girl
I’m still not 100% on doing this costume this year. The suit itself is done, but I don’t have the webshooters or short dark burgundy wig. But alot of folks are expecting to see this costume. So I’m still on the fence if I’m going to wear this to Con this year or wait.

5) Katniss Everdeen-inspired dress from Catching Fire
It’s finally finished! The dress itself was done a couple years ago, but I didn’t have the wig (as even though my hair is long, it’s pitifully lackluster and holds no curl). Since heels are required with the outfit, I have to use my cane, which as it turns out, also has flames one it. Fitting, no?