Imagine your favorite character designs interpreted into costumes full of bustles, bodices, and shrugs, and you’ll come close to the work of LoriAnn Costume Designs, where the reality is probably better than you envisioned.
LoriAnn Gerlisky’s designs feature a range of styles, from Renaissance to Steampunk and even pirate looks. But it’s when these stunning pieces are given a pop culture twist that they particularly take our breathe away.
Gerlisky’s been sewing for as long as she can remember. While she originally thought she would be a fashion designer, creating a costume reproduction of the white dress worn by Madonna in Dick Tracy for a friend to wear to the high school prom put her on the path to costumes. She designed her logo when she was an exchange student in Australia and told the Daily Dot in an email interview, “It’s been a nonstop rollercoaster ever since.”
Her journey to selling her work online and creating pop culture-inspired items began with a suggestion from her mother.
“One day my mom looked at me and said, ‘If you can make a bodice, you could make a living doing this and stay home with your daughters while my husband finished college,'” Gerlisky said. “I made my first black bodice with boning in 1995 and listed it for 50 bucks on eBay. I sold it within 24 hours.”
Gerlisky became known for her pirate costumes in corsets thanks to the the Gasparilla Pirate Fest and a swell of local Floridian pirate lovers. “So I became known for my pirate costumes and corsets, and then Pirates of the Caribbean hit the world with a bang, and everyone wanted to dress like Jack and Elizabeth,” she said.
“After getting a good reputation and following, I looked further into movie gown reproductions, which led me to making my first bustle,” she said. “I used the black and white stripes to make a gown and BAM! It was a hit.”
Gerlisky’s new love became the Victorian era and Steampunk designs, and she began adding bustles to all her work, which she believes adds flare to a costume.
“Then one day I received an email asking if I could make a TARDIS costume,” she said. “I think my brain exploded. All I could think of was, ‘How can I add a bustle to this?’ My favorite thing in the world now is to take unusual characters or objects and bring them to life. I absolutely love the cosplay world and what has happened over the last several years. You’d think everyone wants to grow up to be a superhero, but the villains are the real characters.”
All of her work is handmade and amazingly detailed. As a result, the time it takes her to complete these can vary anywhere from 15 minutes for a piece, to four or five hours for a costume she’s made before, to a day or two for a new costume. Gerlisky said she loves to genderbend characters, and when creating a design she’ll start by trying to get a general idea of the look she’s going for and the colors it will include. She also keeps all her costumes modest with skirts and bustles that cover parts even when you’re bending over.
For her Joker design, for example, she researched the comic book version and the movie version of the character while thinking about how she might add a bustle to the look.
With the Joker, I wanted to add a bit of feminine flair to it with the ruffled collar on the shrug, but still covering most of the upper body. While shopping I searched for the perfect flower accent. The best one was orange, so I went with the orange for the corset. The Joker is shown with orange or yellow as vest colors, so it just happened. Most ladies like to wear an underbust corset so they can actually breathe for a long day of cosplay. My next question was, ‘How am I going to make a vest corset, then?’ Oh, let’s just take my best-selling corset and make it ‘look’ like a vest. I added some buttons and it all just fell into place. I kind of make things up as I go while sewing the pieces together. I’ll add a piece and stand back to look at the overall effect, then decide on the next piece. It’s a crazy process but it works for me.
“I received an email [from Simplicity Patterns] in October 2014 asking if I’d be interested in offering some of my designs as patterns because they wanted to get into cosplay and they thought my style would match that of the home sewer,” she said. “I was asked which designs I thought would sell, and I chose my most popular designs at the time. I sent them drafted-out patterns and the full costumes for the pattern cover photo shoots.”
You can currently find a Doctor Who–inspired set and a villains-inspired set by Gerlisky on the Simplicity website, and there’s more on the way. Gerlisky plans to have six new patterns released this year. Look for the first one out in April’s catalog.
Whether you use the Simplicity patterns to make a design yourself, or save up to order a custom look directly from Gerlisky, there’s no denying you’ll stand out from the rest of the crowd at the next event or geek con you attend.
H/T Fashionably Geek | Photo via LoriAnn Gerlisky