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Her Universe
Before this past weekend, I’d never heard of Her Universe. I’ve now realized that, without my realizing it, Her Universe has taken a huge leadership position on the feminine side of geek culture. Their geek inspired fashion has slowly taken over my friends’ wardrobes and social media posts, they are starting a publishing imprint next year for books. They’ve also branched out into entertainment, producing a docu-series on San Diego Comic-Con, and starting a couture fashion show in 2014.

The fashion show is what ultimately brought Her Universe to my attention. It takes place every year at San Diego comic-Con. Not only does it show off new lines for the Her Universe product lines, but it introduces audiences to brand new geek designers from around the country. The folks at Her Universe select a group of talented new designers to walk the runway. From around 30 designs, three winners are chosen (one by the audience, one by the home audience, and one by the judges). Those winners help create a line for Hot Topic (a partner of Her Universe).

Here are the winners from 2016 (all images by Kelsey Edwards Photography – www.kelseyedwardsphoto.com):

CAMILLE

Audience Winner – Camille Falciola – Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter
Hannah

Judges Winner – Hannah “Hanime” Kent – Imperator Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road
Jesse-by-Jesse-Thaxton-Falkor-The-NeverEnding-Story

CCHQ Winner Jesse Thaxton – Falkor from The NeverEnding Story
Her Universe was founded in 2010 by Ashley Eckstein (the voice of Ahsoka Tano Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels) actress and geek fangirl. Ashley identified a hole in the fashion industry (e.g. fun, affordable, and fashionable wear for geek girls) and filled it quickly and effectively. She has also stated that she wanted to create a safe space for the huge population of geek-fan-females that was free from bullying and where they can 100% express themselves. Her clothing lines span several styles, pop culture obsessions, and sizes (most options are available in plus sizes); from Star Wars, to My Neighbor Totoro and Doctor Who.

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And with the runway show, Her Universe brings together geek fashion with cosplay to create geek couture.

Modeling For Her Universe Runway Application

Katrina Van Tassel2
This brings me to how I found out about the Her Universe runway show. One of my extremely talented friends sent out a request for last minute models for her application tape. There’s one particular dress that she made last year I’ve been wanting to get my hands on. I didn’t know what the call out was for, but I like to be helpful, and I had my fingers crossed.

And it paid off! I got to swish around in a dress, that very much looked like this one on your right, for half an hour. Christina Ricci wore it when appearing as Katrina Van Tassel in Sleepy Hollow. It was a bit tight (as it was made for the designer). But you bet I managed to squeeze myself in and finagle those hook and eyes.

Applying for Her Universe Runway Show

I was going to write about the application process, but felt woefully unqualified to do so (as, I know how to sew a straight line and barely that. How do you thread a needle again?). So, I went to the source: Jennifer Biladeau (@gabhari1789 on Instagram) has been drawing pretty dresses and designing fabulous outfits since childhood, so we sat down together And she walked me through her inspiration, why she designs for fabulous geek ladies, and the process of applying for her dream fashion show for the second time.

Designs4

Jennifer with Her Universe CEO Ashley Eckstein

Why Geek Fashion?

I see it as a great way for me to express my style of fandom. Going to ECCC so much, I feel caught between two worlds of being too “normal”/straight-edge for cosplay, but being too costume-y for the ‘normal/straight-edge”. Costuming is my jam, don’t get me wrong, but I do NOT have the time, money, or bandwidth to create these enormous, elaborate, AMAZING cosplays I see every year. I also feel like there is a difference between cosplay and costuming. It has something to do with a difference in the use of foam, 3-d printing, and circuits.
Designs3

Entry #1 2016

Why were you drawn to this particular competition?

I am all for letting your freak/nerd flag fly, but I am disappointed that the only way a nerd can do that is in t-shirt form. IT’s like, “c’mon, we can build 7′ tall weapons, build apps, make games….but we cannot have anything but screen-printed tees? No, we deserve better!” Plus, I think it is more awesome to have someone ask if that is a Black Widow jacket because of subtle details, rather than making obvious things obvious…knowwhatimean?

What’s great about Her Universe?

We have so many cool costumes to choose from, but they don’t really work to wear everyday. Practicality is really cool, you know? I’d love to show my love of Princess Aurora in what I wear, but wearing a long, blue dress while making coffee for 6 hrs doesn’t really work. However, a blue boatneck, peplum shirt with piping (that mimics the bodice of the dress)…maybe with a pink splatter pattern……THAT is awesome.

What was the application process like for you?

The application process for me started after I found out I didn’t make the cut for last year’s show. I have a page on a notepad app and a Pinterest page all for this show: anytime I get an idea of a character I’d like to work on, or if I see an image/technique I think would be awesome for this show, I mark it down. The selection process and designing are the most labor intensive parts of the application process. Not only is it “who do I want to design” but also “what do I want it to look like?” How do I show that this outfit is She-Ra without being insanely obvious. One of my designs this year is basically all black, so I kept having to remind myself “How is this representative if this character, and not just an all-black outfit?”
Designs1 Entry #2 2016

As stupid as it sounds, I mentally sew my designs in my head as I sketch them. Like, I have these great ideas in my head of what would look cool, or I’ll sketch something that looks amazing, but then i think about how I would actually put it together. “Those pants look awesome, but what will those pattern pieces look like? Can you actually make the engineering of that collar work so that it stands? Would chiffon or organza work better for this skirt, and how do you plan on hemming that?” I definitely made more notes on my sketches this year than I did last time because I wanted to show that I was thinking about what fabrics I would use, how I’d want the hair and make-up to be shown, what shoe would work with this. I took the whole look into account rather than just the clothing.
Designs 2 Entry #3 2016

What are you hoping to achieve with your geek fashion designing?

one of the things I hope I can accomplish with this is making fandom activewear. Her Universe has already begun working on this, and I want to get on that train. Under Armor tried doing that a few years ago, but the stuff they had for guys was WAY cooler than what they had for ladies. (just bc I’m a chick who likes Batman does not mean that I want a flowy, pastel tank with the logo on it. Not. The. Same). I have a lot of cool ideas for making nerdy activewear that I would so wear to the studios for rehearsals. I mean, ballet was an important part of Natasha Rominoff’s training to become Black Widow, so why wouldn’t I want to be a superhero in class, amirite?!

So, that’s that! It feels like I’m learning new things every day about this quickly growing part of culture! What’s YOUR favorite design from the Her Universe fashion show last year? Let us know in the comments!

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