I started Twilight Attire in 1998 and, over the years, have had varying focuses, from Renaissance era clothing to cosplay creations, from corsetry to Victorian era designs, and finally now a melding of all those influences. I enjoy creating modern clothing and costumes that give a nod to the styles of yesteryear with the drama of cosplay and the quality and attention to detail of couture. My team is just myself, so the work that you saw, from design to my runway, was done completely by me.
I believe in challenging myself, and creating a ten look collection (while working and starting graduate school) was certainly that! But beyond that, I thought it would be a lot of fun and it’s been a couple of years since my last big runway event, as Timothy Westbrook’s guest designer at his “Paleontology of a Woman” show at the Milwaukee Public Museum in 2013.
For this collection, “Retrospective”, I created 5 designs inspired by a decade. I chose 1880, 1890, 1900, 1910 and 1930 as the inspiration decades. (I skipped 1920 because, honestly, I despise dropped waists.) Once that design was finalized, I created 5 modern looks with a twist or interpretation from the vintage-style sister look. I was inspired by historical fashion, by the events that shaped the decades, by the films and literature created within and looking back on the time period. I knew that a collection that represented me as a designer needed to reflect me: as a designer, as a costumer, as a historical fashion aficionado and as a feminist.
Some looks had specific inspiration- a grey wool herringbone mermaid skirt and jacket, paired with a black velvet corset (vintage 1900 look), was heavily inspired by a costume in Moulin Rouge which I always thought was very elegant yet dramatic. (Worn by Michelle Pendzich)
My vintage 1910 look (Worn by Evelina Pashkova) included a special touch- a “Votes for Women” suffragette sash, in honor of the 95th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The actual date was in August of 1920, and my look is intended as a commemoration of the decades of toil leading up to that bit of triumph.
I did [create a collection specifically for the show] the only look that existed before the show was the first one, which was made about 9 months before. It was required of the designers that the majority of their work on the runway was new, but I think that is preferable to many designers anyway. You not only want to ensure a cohesive collection, but also to continue challenging yourself, and that doesn’t happen without the creation process.
The collection has not been featured in any other shows yet, although the opening look (1880, worn by Shawna Hays) is currently featured with another of my gowns through the month of October at the Alverno College arts and cultures gallery Annual Alumnae Juried Art Exhibition, and was awarded third place in the show.
More or less the whole experience was positive- it was very well organized, the hair and makeup teams were very hardworking and talented, and the venue was beautiful! I will curse Garth Brooks every day of my life, though, for planning a double concert comeback the night of our event. It was a nightmare getting around downtown!
Time is always a challenge- I began graduate school a month before the show, and actually attended class for 6 hours the day of the show. That was stressful, but I tried to just look at it as a challenge to be completed. I was also taking on more hours at work during the summer, which mitigated the financial strain of going to Chicago three times for a collection’s worth of fabric purchases, but it ate up a lot of design time!
Besides the show I mentioned above, I organized and designed for “Fashionista: A Women’s Benefit Show” in 2006, I participated in the Fasten Co-Op Fashion Show in 2007, I organized a fashion and art show “UnLaced: Behind Closed Doors”- fashion & art show at the Alchemist Theater in 2011, and showed three designs at Milwaukee Public Theater’s “Steampunk Circus and Fashion Show” in 2014.
I have done several professional shoots with my looks, most recently with Shelly Wittstock Orlandini and Kathy Berger Photography. I do have models that I work with repeatedly, but those connections usually come from people in my life. It is usually a woman’s spirit and attitude that drives me to ask her to model for me.
Two years ago, one of my designs appeared in this very magazine, when it was awarded the Historical Master prize at Teslacon, the annual Steampunk convention in Madison. My looks have appeared in online publications for articles for the Shepherd Express, OnMilwaukee, and by Molly Snyder for Made In Milwaukee Magazine.
While I have shipped my designs worldwide, from Australia to Sweden to Oconomowoc, with a few exceptions for portfolio shots, I keep my client list private. But personally, I consider every one of them to be women of note. And impeccable taste, of course.
Specifically, some of my designs look great on me & I’ll happily, greedily keep them! I may put some on Etsy, but am undecided. On a larger scale, I go where opportunity takes me. Currently, I am preoccupied by the Victorian era, so there will be more of that to come, for sure.
My blog, Repleating History, is a fun look into both the historical and practical process of creation for my outfits- I will be doing a post on my Milwaukee Fashion Week collection, but there’s so much more there, from figuring out an Edwardian pattern printed in Dutch to the trials and tribulations of making my Seven of Nine costume (from Star Trek Voyager). Lots of pictures but plenty of useful details too, and a section for Renaissance costuming that will soon be getting more attention from me!
I am already planning design ideas for MFW 2016, and I hope to have the opportunity to participate.