JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Costume designer Amy Sumida wears an "Autumn Fairy" costume. Prosperity Corner in Kaimuki has dozens of costume possibilities, including special made-to-order prosthetics created by Bryan Furer, a special-effects artist who has worked on such Hollywood films as "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Costume separates and hats range from $35 to $200. The store will be open from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. throughout the weekend and Halloween day for last-minute shoppers. CLICK FOR LARGE
Dressed to thrill
A designer knows what it's like to bring fantasy to life
MOST ADULTS have but one day a year, Halloween, to indulge their dress-up fantasies and transform themselves into anyone or anything they want to be.
To fulfill those fantasies, staffers at Kaimuki's Prosperity Corner are busily at work stitching up pirate, princess and vampire garb while putting finishing touches on a couple of Medusas, including one rigged by technicians with a headdress of writhing snakes.
Face painting, body painting and special effects, prosthetic and glam makeup application:
Place: Prosperity Corner, 1151 12th Ave.
Hours: 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. tomorrow through Tuesday
Cost: Varies. Basic face painting starts at $17; body painting starts at $65.
"We can do anything people want," said owner D.J. Colbert, who has assembled a team of glam, prosthetic and special-effects makeup artists to finesse looks for Halloween revelers from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. tomorrow through Tuesday. Reservations are mandatory. Among the artists will be Bryan Furer, who's worked on many a film and television set.
In addition to the usual blood-spattered ghouls, there's plenty of demand this year to recreate the makeup from "The Grudge" series of horror films.
Custom costumes start at about $150, but the shop also offers off-the-rack capes, dresses and other Halloween attire starting at $35.
The work doesn't stop after Allhallows Eve. There's always demand for Gothic robes and ritual wear, and for one of the company's in-house designers, Amy Sumida, dress-up has been a lifestyle since she was 15. That's when she discovered the Society for Creative Anachronism, a group that exists to re-create the Middle Ages, via 19 kingdoms around the globe.
After watching the "knights" of the SCA practice their swordsmanship, she decided, in her teens, "It's fun pretending you're someone else for a while. That's how my love of costuming came about."
Members are asked to wear pre-17th-century clothing, so she started sewing her own medieval costumes, not letting a lack of technique interfere with her creative vision.
"One time I just lay down on fabric and traced the outline of my body," she said. "Now I know how to do everything properly."
Sumida honed her craft at Honolulu Community College but didn't have a game plan after graduation. A logical choice would have been to try her luck in New York, but she said, "I didn't want to do that. I'm a Hawaii girl."
She tried to start a line of plus-size designer lingerie, but didn't look back after meeting Colbert and finding herself right at home at Prosperity Corner.
"We dress up every day of the week here and have lots of fun," said Sumida, who, despite creating every type of costume imaginable, never tires of returning to the Middle Ages.
"A lot of it has to do with chivalry," she said. "It's nice to put on a long flowing gown and have men treat you nice. They don't do that now, like, you never see a group of men running to help you these days. But back then it was part of being a knight and part of being the upper class.
"We always say we do the past the way it should have been, with refrigeration and without disease. We get together and have feasts, and the food is really good. They really spice it up because back then the meat would rot. And it's always fun to watch the men beat on each other."
Sumida's association with the SCA has helped in bringing others' fantasies to life.
"Now, if someone says they want to be a princess, I ask, 'Well, do you want to be a Norman or a Saxon? What time period? Do you want a high Hennin hat?' They just kind of look at me blankly."
All this knowledge of clothing detail has turned her into a specialized film critic.
"I like to watch historical films and tear them apart, see what they did wrong," she said. "I could talk forever about 'Kingdom of Heaven.' The costumes were just horrendous.
"The problem with Hollywood is they want something that's really beautiful, so they take a little bit of reality and twist it."
She's much more forgiving with the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. "It's a fantasy, so they can do anything they want."
She'll be looking closely at the costuming in Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette" and otherwise goes to films just to get a better idea of what some customers want.
"Sometimes they just bring in a picture and say, 'Here. Make this for me.' Someone wanted a 'V for Vendetta' costume, and the picture was so dark it was hard to see."
While the main character's black fencing outfit and cape are easy enough to reproduce, she also wanted to see the details of his boots and knife belt.
While Sumida strives for accuracy in appearance, the harnessing of electricity does have its advantages for the harried 21st-century designer, who admits she isn't 100 percent faithful to the old ways of working.
"Back then they sewed everything by hand," Sumida said. "Forget that."