If you manage to go to San Diego Comic-Con a few times, or any major event/convention, you tend to gather traditions. The restaurant you have to go to at least once. The hotel with just the right mix of location and… location. The booth you visit every year. Starting in 2014 and coming back for the fifth year, the Her Universe Fashion Show is vying to become many SDCC attendees’ annual tradition.
My wife Beth and I have wanted to go for years, but every year we had a scheduling conflict. This year we made it our top priority, and we were so glad we did.
The Her Universe Fashion Show is not just the geek couture version of a New York or Paris runway show, it’s also a contest where all the designers are competing to work for Her Universe and Loungefly by creating a collection to be sold in Hot Topic stores. There were three winners this year: a judges’ winner, an audience choice winner, and for the first time, a SINGER Sewing Company winner chosen for excellent sewing and construction. Also this year a special Junior Designer Showcase category for aspiring designers between ages six to seventeen was added. The four winners that were announced will have the opportunity to design an apparel piece inspired by The Powerpuff Girls.
The show kicked off with a typical fashion show, where the upcoming Her Universe lines were given time on the runway.
Then came the reveal of the special dress Her Universe founder and show host Ashley Eckstein was wearing. Each year a one-of-a-kind dress is created for Ashley, with this year’s being done by the first Fashion Show winner Andrew MacLaine. It was a Nightmare Before Christmas themed dress that was made from 500 Jack Skellington Funko Pop! figures and weighed 40 pounds.
This is San Diego Comic-Con though, so of course there were special guests. And who better than the voices of Anakin – Matt Lanter – and all the clones – Dee Bradley Baker – to help show off the new Star Wars: The Clone Wars collection?
Not to mention the complete surprise of Jodie Whittaker, the newest Doctor, showing off her new outfit later in the show. She was asked to appear to promote the new Doctor Who line, but wanted to actually walk the runway, so a jacket was found that afternoon for her. Whittaker helped design her outfit for the show and said, “Any age, any gender, anyone can wear it. You’re not dressing as a girl and you’re not dressing as a boy. You’re dressing as the Doctor.”
The majority of the show was all about the contestants, though. There were 24 finalists this year and each got a chance to shine with a short intro video and then the reveal of their design on the runway. In the middle of the show, the four winners of the Junior design competition got to show off their designs as well. The winners were Jelly Austin “Unstable”, Corina Smith “Awesome Blossom”, Miranda Robles-Tuttle “The City of Townsville”, and Zoe Chavez “Buttercup”.
After all 24 designs were revealed, the judges went to select their winner. While they were deciding, the audience turned in their ballots to be counted and determine the audience winner.
Something else happened during the judging, and true to Her Universe form, it was all about the fans. Anyone in attendance who wanted to was allowed to line up and walk the runway. This meant everyone from cosplayers, to kids, to a dog. Yes, a dog walked the runway. It obviously meant a lot to the fans to be able to get up on stage and show off their style or costume.
Then the culmination of the night arrived. It was time to reveal the winners. The judges’ winner was “The Couture of Water” (The Shape of Water) by Cynthia Kirkland.
The audience winner was “PWL Chic: Ripley in the Powerloader” (Aliens) by Kristi Siedow-Thompson.
The SINGER Sewing Company winner was “Howl-In’ For You” (Howl’s Moving Castle) by Jane Burson.
With that, the show came to a close. There’s something special about the Her Universe Fashion Show. It’s not just another opportunity for a company to promote itself or its product, although obviously that happens. The true magic is how it gives fans a chance to make their dreams come true. Even if someone doesn’t win, they still have designed something and presented it on a runway for all to see.
Where so many things at Comic-Con are about buying, marketing, exclusives, etc., this one is about creating and doing. Just one more thing to add to the amazing event San Diego Comic-Con has become as it nears its 50th anniversary.
Presented below is a gallery of all the entries this year plus more from the show.