By Rick Asa, Special to Tribune Newspapers
October 18, 2013
A bald cap, big lab-nerd eyeglasses, a crumpled black porkpie hat and a cold stare — or, if you prefer, a yellow hazmat-suit kit complete with breathing mask and a goatee — will make up the Halloween costume of the year, according to costume shop owners from New York to California. The character, of course, is Walter White as the crystal meth kingpin — also known as "Heisenberg" — from "Breaking Bad."
Scraggly long beards of varying lengths and bandannas are moving as well because of the TV hit "Duck Dynasty," whose characters' costumes will be filled out with flannel shirts, camouflage and waders. If you have duck decoys, bring 'em.
Do we need to mention vampires, witches and zombies, which ate tons of flesh throughout "World War Z" and four seasons of "The Walking Dead"?
As teens and adults plan their Halloween 2013 looks, expect many, as usual, to riff off popular culture, old and new, the nation's costume shop owners say.
In an example of nonlife imitating "art," there's the yet-to-be-released "Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies," which combines two costume trends. Even old-school wrestlers such as Roddy Piper, who stars in the movie, Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant are popular for their enduring value, says Amarilys "Amy" Villegas of Fantasy Costumes in Chicago.
Other costumes that are trending, according to independent costume shops and chain retailers, include Abby Sciuto, the offbeat, brilliant Goth forensic scientist on "NCIS," and bank robbers wearing masks of ex-presidents including Reagan, Carter, Johnson and Nixon (from the movie "Point Break") or nun masks and habits from "The Town."
Of course, look for plenty of Miley Cyrus get-ups. All you need are a giant foam hand, forefinger pointed up, a riff on a popular sports staple that in this case does not suggest "No. 1," cheesy vinyl underwear and her bleached-blond skyscraper 'do borrowed from pop star Pink. Twerking added at your own risk. At the Mardi Gras Costume Shop in Scottsdale, Ariz., "Beetlejuice" costumes have sold out to customers who are using them to represent Cyrus' MTV partner, Robin Thicke, says marketing manager Doug Loynd.
Amanda Bynes fills out the bad-girl costume roster for 2013, repeating the Lindsay Lohan theme of alcohol and cars, but adding a courtroom twist that includes a long, bed-head blond wig covering her eyes and baggy clothes that look as though they came straight out of a dumpster.
Superheroes? There are always Superman and Batman around to save the day, or night in this case, but a successful run of Marvel comics-inspired movies will result in the frequent appearance of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hulk, X-Men and Spider-Man — even Spider-Girl.
Bad taste is always fun.
Tony Bianchi, owner of New York Costumes, says celebrities who perish in the summer or earlier give costume shops enough time to pre-order in anticipation of expected demand.
"(Halloween) is not a PC business," Bianchi acknowledges frankly, which is a big part of the deceased celebrity allure — except when it comes to the late Annette Funicello, long dubbed "America's Sweatheart," who died in April. Amy Winehouse, however, has been fair game, as have been Michael Jackson and Elvis. Bianchi has entire Michael Jackson and Elvis (thin and fat) departments to maintain readiness for constant annual demand.
Perhaps the most intriguing and versatile costume trend coming into full emergence this year is "steampunk," which comes across as completely bizarre to the uninitiated. Bianchi calls it "retro futurism." "Steampunk is gaining traction, with customers wanting to dress in the genre at the same time admitting not knowing what it is," Loynd says. "Steampunk is a modern re-envisioning through a Victorian Jules Verne or H.G. Wells lens, as though all the modern contrivances were built from brass and operated by gears and levers. It initially started out strictly Victorian with gears and clockwork, but clever "cosplayers" (short for "costume play," an activity in which participants dress up as characters from fiction) have expanded it." Goggles, you'll find, are a big part of it.
"Now, virtually any character can be re-imagined as steampunk. I've seen video game characters redone, even Ironman as a Victorian lady with glowing spots on her hands, heart and glowing goggles on her top hat. Cosplayers seem to like expressing their personal creativity in turning guns and lasers and armor into their clockwork counterparts."
Not to forget royalty. There will be little families of Prince William, his wife Kate and the royal baby, plus various representations from the large and devoted following for "Downton Abbey," whose characters live the decadent estate life of the late Victorian era and change into fabulous clothes at least five times a day for every activity, which includes wearing museum-quality jewelry. Speaking of the U.K., news accounts of a clown that terrorized the town of Northampton by showing up at various places could inspire creepy clown costumes this year, Fantasy Costumes' Villegas said.
Finally, thanks to the rapper Macklemore and his huge hit "Thrift Shop," secondhand stores are hot. Expect teenagers to look the way they usually do.
Costumes courtesy of Fantasy Costumes (fantasycostumes.com).
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