The 5th annual Her Universe Fashion Show descended upon San Diego Comic-Con last week, and we still can’t stop thinking about it.
24 insanely talented designers poured their hearts and souls into creating one-of-a-kind looks inspired by a wide range of fandoms, but only three winners came out on top (from left to right):
- Audience Winner: Kristi Siedow-Thompson (PWL Chic: Ripley in the Powerloarder, Aliens)
- Judges Winner: Cynthia Kirkland (The Couture of Water, The Shape of Water)
- Singer Winner: Jane Burson (Howl-In’ For You, Howl’s Moving Castle)
At the end of the show, Ashley Eckstein announced that the three winners will be designing a Marvel Avengers 4 fashion collection with Her Universe and Loungefly for Hot Topic.
Until then, we went back and picked out our top five looks from this year’s show. It was a difficult decision, but we managed to do it!
5. Best. Dress. Ever! by Harmony Leiker (Tangled)
Fun and free, this Tangled dress is absolute divine and captures everything warm and lovable about Rapunzel and the movie that inspired it. The outfit also features a fan-favorite accessory: the lantern purse!
And surprisingly, a good amount of metal work went into creating the look.
“There was just as much metal working as there was sewing for this dress,” Leiker wrote on Instagram. “All the metal pieces were made using traditional jewelry making techniques, such as metal folding, repousee, soldering, texturing. All of the pieces started out as nothing more than brass and copper sheet metal and wire.”
4. Rebellion Reborn by Adria Renee (Star Wars)
What an ingenious idea! It’s truly impressive how Renee took such an iconic scene from Star Wars: The Last Jedi and transformed it into the vibrant feathered detail located at the base of the coat.
Plus, the glam is in the details.
“[The ski speeders] are embroidered with metallic flossing and beads for the extra details,” Renee explained on Instagram. “Below them stems a plume of rooster saddle and hackle, turkey, and ostrich feathers meant to represent the red salt beneath Crait’s surface. The white silk taffeta coat is decorated with a sprinkling of salty beads and sequins.”
3. Seamstress Sally by Kimberly Burns (Nightmare Before Christmas)
Working with prints is not an easy task, but Burns turned out a beautiful garment that not only worked but had a jaw-dropping lace-up detail on the back that helped bring the piece together and capture the essence of the character.
“I’m so happy that I was able to bring my Sally to life and had the opportunity to walk the runway at the Her Universe Fashion Show!” she said. “It was so fun to create – from patterning over 140 pieces to stitching it all together to adding all the little hand embroidered details! Forever thankful for this super wonderful experience!”
2. Pwl Chic: Ripley in the Powerloader by Kristi Siedow-Thompson (Aliens)
Talk about taking a classic scene and transforming it into a modern day and wearable look. What’s most fascinating about it is the complexity of the jacket versus the simple (yet expertly made) white-and-blue outfit located underneath. It’s the perfect balance.
“Everything aligned for me this year, but only because of the work I put in every day for the last three years,” she wrote on Instagram. “The most exciting thing is jumping off to set new goals and keep climbing! I want to use the privilege of winning to do good and maybe make the fashion world a better place, even if I can just make a tiny dent in inclusivity.”
1. The Couture of Water by Cynthia Kirkland (The Shape of Water)
Absolutely exquisite! This gown was a clear winner the moment it turned and walked down the runway. Kirkland did a beautiful job capturing the features of the Amphibian Man without going too literal.
“The design really pulled from the rich color palette of the VFX creature and set designs,” Kirkland wrote on Instagram. “Especially the combination use of sequins beneath chiffon, since the VFX team really wanted the creature to glimmer like a gold fish. Cichlid fish—native to the Amazon—were also a point of inspiration with their sharp fins.”
Overall, the design is positively charming and simply sublime from every angle. There is no doubt that the creators of the movie would be so proud of Kirkland’s accomplishment.
“The work of the VFX team under Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water along with the amazing performance of Doug Jones really inspired me to create a gown that pushed me creatively in many ways,” she said. “Thank you for inspiring the world in many ways apart from passive movie viewing. You have now inspired award winning fashions. I even had one audience member approach me after the fashion show in tears of joy just to explain how this film has moved her. These are your fans. Thank you so, so much for creating beautiful creatures and moving stories to amaze and inspire the world.”
A Community Above All Else
While some consider the Her Universe Fashion Show to be an ordinary competition, it’s more of a community for those involved.
“I find this photo perfectly sums up the Con for me and how I feel,” Ashley Eckstein wrote on her Instagram in response to a photograph taken by photographer and friend of TWG Brian Sims, as seen below. “I’ve done a lot of interviews lately and almost everyone asked me about the bullying and toxic fandom that’s been going on. While I am fully aware of of the negativity, and I have also been victim to bullying myself, I choose to attack the negative with positivity. I work tirelessly to create a safe and uplifting community for Her Universe and I do believe that positivity is contagious.”
“This photo also sums up the relationship between all of the designers, junior designers, models, team members, sponsors, fans, and everyone else who was part of our show. Our show is a competition, but instead of having a catty, backstabbing and competitive environment, I’ve witnessed a group of incredible people who support, empower and help each other.”
Designer Adria Renee also added, “[This photo is] a perfect representation of why I love the Her Universe Fashion Show so much; why we all come away as winners; why I keep coming back for more. It’s because of this and the community, collaboration, and camaraderie we have built.”
While we’re sad that we have to wait an entire year before we get the next Her Universe Fashion Show, we’re happy to participate in the positive and wonderful community Her Universe continues to provide for its fans.
Which design from this year’s Her Universe Fashion Show turned out to be your favorite?