Dragon*Con Star Wars Costume Contest: Where do we go from here?

Holly Frey | September 4, 2012

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If there’s one thing that’s central to the Dragon*Con experience, it’s costumes. You can’t wave a stick in any of the host hotels without whacking a costumed attendee. (Please, don’t wave sticks at cons with the intent of whacking people.) And because the con is so huge, most tracks have their own costume contests, in addition to the con-wide hall costume contest and the Dragon*Con Masquerade. Star Wars is no exception, but this year was unique because Dragon*Con fell right on the heels of Celebration VI. That meant that some people had opted to attend the less frequent Star Wars con instead of the annual con, and some people attended both, but were too wiped out from CVI to compete their costumes again. This resulted in a slightly smaller field for the Dragon*Con contest. Even with a smaller group, there was no shortage of variety and creativity.

The contest was presented cooperatively by the 501st Legion and the Rebel Legion, and the judges were costumers selected from those two groups. This is a newish development in the Star Wars track, and it’s one I hope is here to stay — I really appreciate the focus on giving back to the fan community that both organizations have. It sets a perfect example of supportiveness and volunteerism for newer costumers to follow.

The first group was the kids, and they were adorable. We were treated to a tiny Boba Fett, a mini Han Solo, a lovely Phantom Menace parade Amidala and a pint-sized Jango, who took the children’s title.

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Once the adult group was underway, I had a bit of a mini-revelation. I’ve been costuming a loooooong time, and I remember when Star Wars-specific contests consisted entirely of Leias and X-wing pilots. There was nothing wrong with that, but thanks to the ever-growing Star Wars universe and the constantly-developing skill set of fan costumers, there’s so much more diversity in contest entries now — there really is a perfect character for every would-be cosplayer.

Remember how I mentioned creativity earlier? This particular group was full of custom designs. We saw a Deadmau5 Clone Trooper, Disco Fett, Steampunk Star Wars, R2-D2 created in dress form, and Old Republic Jedi — and the best in show was a large-scale custom creature creation.

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If you’re a purist who likes to see people recreate canon characters, no worries there. Anakin and Padmé were in attendance, as well as Lando, a Tusken Raider, and a spectacular Nien Nunb.

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I’ll admit, since my true love is couture costuming, I wished for more Amidala and Padmé gowns. I personally adore all the details and intricate embellishment that those dresses often include, and I loved going to cons while the prequels were debuting and seeing all the gorgeous gowns. It’s interesting to watch the ebb and flow of costume trends now that the movies have all come out and we’re following Star Wars down entirely new avenues. With projects like Star Wars Detours and Star Wars: 1313 on the horizon, I know the fan community will find entirely new, clever ways to give themselves the edge in their costuming endeavors. I personally can’t wait for the day I see my first adult-sized Major Fufu walking a show floor.

Holly Frey cohosts the PopStuff podcast at HowStuffWorks.com. She’s an avid costumer, and Star Wars has been an integral part of her life since opening day in 1977.

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