My involvement in designer work goes way back, but it was not until the Evenstar Festival when it truly evolved into something big, new and unexpected. These people really gave me a kick, instead of a calm group of fairy tale romantics I met a merry band of creative eccentrics involved in all kinds of fiction and related stuff. Epic fantasy literature may be the central topic of this Festival, but these people also excel in role playing and video games, medieval combat techniques, craftsmanship and LARP, some are painting artists, there are also medieval and acoustic musicians, various dancers and also a complete heavy metal band. And not to forget those stylish Steampunk people and their army of science fiction comrades following many different genres.
And all these quite different people are putting together their efforts and enthusiasm to make the Festival happen. A proper fantasy festival needs proper costumes, and that's where I came in. First I just heard the names of the characters: Thranduil, Joffrey, Margaery, Khaleesi… quite a lot of them but I accepted anyway, mostly out of plain curiosity and a strive for a real challenge. A glance at the original actor photographs, well OK, a lot of details on these but still doable. It was not until the actual festival members showed up and told me what they actually wanted to be, that I understood that the devil is not only in the details, the devil is everywhere.
Thranduil's costume, an amazingly looking actor wearing a fabulous costume of a very important character from Tolkien's Hobbit. And the guy who was supposed to wear it at the Festival was an experienced and demanding cosplayer. To put it simple, one of my first costumes had to be perfect, kind of like the hundreds of Lee Pace's online photographs which I went through for analysis. It did not take long until I was forced to call a number of my friends for help and advice. Coffee industry surely did not object for all the nights I had to spend with my sewing machine. So the work was finally completed and there it was – the Thranduil's costume, but alas, nobody had the courage to say that it looked like an almost never washed window curtain of your grandma's apartment. The time was racing towards the deadline, and I remember somebody telling me “everything is under control”. And so I did, I took control and made it all from start now using a proper material. It turned out, well, shortly after the festival our cosplayer travelled to China and performed in that same costume right before Lee Pace himself.
The next challenge was Joffrey Lannister. The first concern that I got was that many of the Evenstar members thought that our member Vladimir, who chose the character, would not fit the looks properly. The work on the costume proceeded well, but my concerns were somehow still present. Not sure if it happened exactly because of that, but I made a rather serious mistake while cutting the lining just before the whole costume was finished. I managed to fix it somehow, but my anxiety did not go down one bit. And then came the moment when Vladimir showed up for a costume trial with his hair dyed to match Joffrey's. Everybody watched in silence and disbelief as he was putting it on, and once he finally placed the crown on his head, chatter exploded. Nobody still knows if it was the hair, or the crown, or the crossbow, but it was success. Villains seem to have an impeccable sense of fashion.
There is a figurative saying in our people “The shoemaker wears the worst shoes”, and it almost came true for my Margaery Tyrell costume. Pressed by the three dresses for our singers and a number of other outfits needed for other members, I had so little time to work on my own. The sleepless night before the Festival was due to heavy work on Thranduil's costume, so in the end I showed up at the Festival with my two sisters following me closely, each with a needle and a thread in their hands. Some bits and pieces of the outfit were patched right there on the spot, and only thanks to my determined sisters I did not embarrass myself completely. But honestly the costume was incomplete and all I could really do was to sit down and properly finish it for the next Festival.
The final words must surely go to the lovely Evenstar Fantasy Festival and its organizers and members. These people strive to encourage creativity on a broad theme of fantasy and are always coming up with a rich program having a lot of interactive content. Fantasy has so many different genres and so much to offer that one can easily say it is an immense playground with endless possibilities for creative adventure. The idea of the Festival is to bring all different genres of fantasy together and offer both the audience and the performers the opportunity to slip out of reality for a moment and experience some completely different worlds. Using hand made decorations and rich costumes, the organizers prepare an eventful program that consists of dances, music performances, educational lectures and presentations, film projections, recitals, games, cosplay, mystery quests, riddle challenges, various workshops, etc...
The people of Evenstar go well beyond the program of the Festival, most of them have creative projects on their own, and it really brings me great pleasure to be a part of this team and share the experience.