Friday, October 29, 2010

Quest for the perfect costume

LAS CRUCES — It’s that time of year again, when all patriotic Las Crucens suit up for Full-Tilt Costume Fiesta Season (FTCFS).
This year, the pressure has been on for both sprints and marathons.
Dia de los Muertos events started with two, count ‘em TWO — Frida Kahlo look-alike contests on the same day and stretched on to include a costume ball, plus this weekend’s Dia de los Muertos festivities on the Mesilla Plaza. One of those days is, of course, Halloween. Then there’s the dusk Day of the Dead procession on Tuesday, for which it is traditional to dress up, perhaps as your favorite difunto (deceased loved one), and bring musical instruments and noisemakers. This year, the procession falls on election day. Don’t forget to vote and we hope you won’t be in mourning for your favorite candidates the next morning.
Then, or course, there’s next weekend’s Renaissance ArtsFaire, which is not the same weekend as Dead Day fiestas this year, as sometimes happens.
That’s probably good news for costume marathoners, but not so hot for sprinters, who enjoy the adrenaline rush of suiting up appropriately for a variety of parties, fiestas, ceremonies and, on double-booked occasions, fly-bys.
Speaking of which, angels and ghosts are appropriate for all our dress-up occasions, and if you’re trying to simplify your costumed life, it’s always good to get back to the basics.
In recent years, I’ve gone the angel route. I have a couple of flowing white robes that I never seem to wear any time else, and they don’t take much space in my overstuffed costume closet.
It’s filled with costumes and accessories from my pre-Minimalist days. The mask section ranges from crow beaks and glow-in-the-dark ET faces to a large Dilbert head and a nice King Tut. (That one came in handy for the Branigan’s Egyptian exhibit a couple of years ago.)
There’s a whole section devoted to wizardry, which I once thought might be the answer to the universally appropriate costume quest. There are star-spangled robes, wands, and assorted wizard hats — great hits for matching gram and grandson Harry Potter soirees, when grandson Alex the Great was in residence.
Wizards were OK for Halloween and RenFaire, where I’ve picked up some spectacular bubble wands over the years. But the hats were hot and blew off at windy outdoor fiestas. And no matter how much magic attitude I tried to conjure, wizards never seemed quite right for Día de los Muertos occasions.
I think the angel is the best bet, though I’m still searching for the perfect wings, which would be soft, bendable, hypoallergenic, non-shedding and super comfy. In an ideal world (which, let’s face it, this isn’t, or what’s a heaven for?) I’d be able to retract and unfurl my wings at will, perhaps with a handy remote control device.
In the meantime, I take them off for car trips and seek out party occasions where I can remain standing or hang out on backless benches or other angel-friendly perches.
I don’t worry about storage for my favorite pair, which has a wingspan of about 6 feet. They hang on my living room wall, where they remain a focal point through FTCFS and on through Christmas, and a topic of conversation during the rest of the year.
I’m still working on display ideas for my halo collection, which includes bendable headband high-rise versions and an ethereal, gauzy, easy-on circlet I picked up last year at a RenFaire booth.
It’s easy to customize my basic angel ensemble for any and all FTCFS needs. Last year, I paper-clipped a “PRESS” card to my halo for an office party, pulled a black-and-white skeleton T-shirt over my robe for Dia de los Muertos, added a garland of small flowers for RenFaire and pondered stacking a halo atop a sombrero for the Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference’s Parque Festival. I just picked up a fun flashing-lights-and-sound gun at a costume store, so I plan to be futuristic avenging angel for Halloween.
The possible variations are endless. Maybe next year I'll add a black wig and a unibrow and enter a look-alike contest as the ghost of Frida Kahlo.
I’ve been around the FTCFS block and I’m here to tell you, it’s the perfect, all-season, all-star costume choice.
Angels, after all, are always appropriate.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450

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