Kharolina, of Kharolina Costume Rental and Design in Kaimuki, shows off a new acquisition, a South American headdress.

Dressed to thrill
Be afraid

By Nancy Arcayna

The best thing about Halloween -- you can be anything your heart desires. Costume shops around the island offer an array of choices from funny to downright spooky.

Kharolina Costume Rental and Design offers more than 1,300 designs for fairy princesses to witches, and every odd creature imaginable. Kharolina has traveled to 24 different countries seeking new additions for her collection.

Do you feel Medieval, Victorian or '70s groovy? She can match you with a look that reflects your inner being, with rentals -- accessories, wigs and all -- ranging from $25 to $100.

Kharolina models a feathered mask that, like the glittered mask, above, is one of her own designs. The witch above is Laurinda Luciano of Spooky's Halloween Town.

"I've always loved Halloween," Kharolina said. "My dad was born on Halloween. My mother was into the theater. My mother's cousin was Lillian Russell, the famous songstress of the 1890s. So it's kinda in our blood."

Kharolina followed in her mom's footsteps and attended theater classes in college. "I used to make all my own costumes. People started to ask me to make things for them. Now it's turned into a monster."

She still makes her own original masks and runs her business year-round, by appointment, not just for Halloween. "People want to be the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. I also get a lot of requests for school plays and church plays," she said.

When she's not making costumes, she searches the world for unusual handmade garments.

"I brought back some old Mardi Gras costumes from New Orleans and some other costumes from the Lido in Paris, she said. Her most recent venture to Mexico scored some Aztec headdresses.

"I've had lots of requests for Moulin Rouge costumes and '70s stuff this year," she said. "Medieval is always a popular choice."

LAURINDA Titus-Luciano has been providing costumes for trick-or-treaters and party-goers since she opened her first shop in 1982, working out of her home.

"I asked to be at the mall several times, but they weren't interested," she said. But now that she has her storefront, she's loving every moment of mainstream attention. Dressed as a witch, she cheerfully greets customers at her Windward Mall store, Spooky's Halloween Town, where she's set up shop through Nov. 3.

"Ever since I was a little girl, I always loved to dress up," she said.

Her day job fits the bill. "I'm a Latin-dancing, Moroccan-playing clown," she chuckled.

Spooky's is home to more than 10,000 items ranging from fake vampire blood capsules to original costumes for rent. The costume rentals range from sequined mermaids to armored warriors, and garments are also available at a second Windward City shopping Center store.

The clothing represents "a hodgepodge of things I've collected over the years," said Titus-Luciano, whose business evolved through a desire to take control of her life.

"I'm a single parent," she said. "Life is not easy, but I try to make it as joyful as possible. The kids watched me start the store in our living room. It's made them self sufficient."

Laurinda Luciano took on the persona of Blondie the Witch in her store, Spooky's Halloween Town at Windward Mall. She was joined last week by Angela Nabua as the Ice Queen, left, and Chelsea Yasuda, the Garden Fairy. Nabua and Yasuda belong to the mall's Teen Board.

Both of her children have also inherited a love for Halloween and assist her at the haunted house, "Scare Factory" located near the store.

OVER AT Party City in Waikele, popular costume choices for kids this year are Yu-gi-oh, Power Rangers and Spiderman, according to Steve Young. Sponge Bob is also in demand, while basic costumes such as witches, clowns and ninjas always sell well.

Children often end up dragging their parents in for costumes. It's an adult trait to procrastinate, then make a mad dash to get their costumes the week before Halloween, Young said.

Once they do come in, it's often with their significant others. Themes big with couples include the cheerleaders from "Saturday Night Live," kings and queens, or big daddies with their scantily clad partners.

Young suspects that adult Spiderman and "Star Wars" costumes will also be abundant this year.

AND DON'T THINK those extravagant theatrical costumes go to waste after the productions close. Diamond Head Theatre also rents costumes for the season.

"We rent costumes that have been used in our shows," said Karen Wolfe, who helps people try to get the perfect fit.

This year the theater company added to its collection with period costumes from "Jekyll and Hyde," "Annie" and "Titanic."

Rentals range in cost from $25 to $75. "All people need to bring is their imagination and a credit card," she said.

Get in costume

Party City: Waikele Center, 671-3133. Open 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.

Kharolina Costume Rental and Design: 1004 10th Ave., 732-3423. Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays or anytime by appointment. The store is open year-round.

Diamond Head Theatre Costume Shop, 520 Makapuu Ave., 733-0277, ext. 2. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Nov. 3.

Spooky's Halloween Town: Windward Mall, upper level, 239-1956. Open during mall hours, through Nov. 3. Also, check out the shop at Windward City Shopping Center.

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