RENOvated

One of the highlights of Renovation was co-hosting the Two Moons Inn party (on Saturday night after the Hugos) to celebrate Lev Grossman’s book The Magicians and his Campbell Award win. Of course, we couldn’t know for certain it would be a celebration of
the award, but the books are so good (and Grossman such a genuinely nice guy) that it seemed worth going for it, regardless, and just having a good time.

Without giving away too much of the plot, the world of The Magicians contains a sub-world called Fillory, modeled on C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. Our party was set in a particular establishment found in that world; an inn which includes a bar containing all the sorts of characters you would expect in such a place: talking animals and trees, and other magical denizens. The nicest thing about this was, when it came to costuming, we were able to choose both specific characters from the book for ourselves but also a general fantasy sort of look for anyone who cared to play along. Anthony and Deb did in a suit made for Carnivale and Ren Faire garb, respectively.

Jason Schachat and myself, as well as our bartender Sean Healy and Leo Schwab were all costuming from the book, as The Beast, The Watcherwoman, the Inn bartender, and Favrel-a walking, talking tree. Leigh Ann Hildebrand meanwhile, decided on a fetching theme-appropriate Ren Faire style dress in green. She and I both replaced the buttons on our outfits with mismatched ones, a conceit based on a piece of fan art featured on Grossman’s Facebook page which we had decided was a Fillorian fashion staple.

The Watcherwoman, who obviously references but isn’t quite the White Witch from the Narnia books, is described just enough to recreate easily without being so specific as to cause me too much trouble. All in grey, veiled and carrying a silver pocket watch; if I had the skill or budget I would have gone with something a bit closer to a Victorian riding outfit, but in the end I was able to fall back on my assembly costumer habits and put together something I was comfortable with out of various thrifted items, though I did have to settle for a not entirely canonical watch (the one in the book seems to be spherical). The veil had a
tendency to slip a bit too far back when I brushed it out of my face, so, despite being grey, apparently make me look a little too bridal now and then. But, overall, I was content with the result.

The bartender in the book is described as wearing something like an Edwardian policemen’s coat, so Leigh Ann cleverly modified a chef ’s jacket and bedecked it in gold trim and brass buttons, which worked perfectly. Additionally, she made a vest of birch bark patterned fabric for Leo who, with his height and slender frame, made a very dignified tree indeed.

But the best costume was by far our very own Jason Schachat’s: at once the simplest and the hardest to pull off. When The Beast puts in its first appearance, it is described as a man in a grey suit of an old fashioned cut, wearing a maroon club tie, face obscured by a leafy branch seemingly hanging out of nowhere. Now, I will freely admit that having never seen Jason actually costume I was placing even odds as to whether he would actually come through in the end. The suit is easy enough, but, without the branch, it’s just that: a guy in a suit. So, when he showed up, branch in hand, and showed us the incredibly simple but effective wire contraption he had made, I was thrilled. The device consisted of a neck collar with a curved wire going over the head that was then hidden under the hair and came out over the forehead. The branch attached nicely and the effect was seamless and, honestly, a little spooky if you’ve read the book.

He also played up the role nicely. One of my favorite moments of the party was when Grossman first spotted him in costume, grinned big, and they fist bumped. I think it was probably the cosplay he least expected to see, and he was clearly thrilled.

~España Sheriff

Yipe! Volume 3, Issue 9, September 2011