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The Best Geek Couture in the Galaxy From the Her Universe Fashion Show at San Diego Comic-Con 2018

The geek is so chic at SDCC.

The winners of the Her Universe Fashion Show celebrate their victory in a moment captured by Brian Sims

Yesterday was a big day for fans of actress/Her Universe founder Ashley Eckstein. The San Diego Comic-Con day began with Eckstein on a panel for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which brought the big reveal that the beloved series was returning for another season. Later that evening, she brought fashion back into fandom for the fifth annual Her Universe Fashion Show, where 24 designers competed for the chance to design an Avengers 4-inspired line, to debut next spring.

It was an evening of celebration for many reasons, and not just because the theme of the event was “milestones.” It’s the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Nightmare Before Christmas, the twentieth anniversary of The Powerpuff Girls, the tenth anniversary of The Clone Wars, and the fifth anniversary of the fashion show itself. The evening celebrated these anniversaries in wonderfully stylish form, with special guests and surprises.

Eckstein’s gown, always a surprise and centerpiece of the event, was a celebration of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Her gown, designed by Andrew MacLaine, weighed 40 pounds and was made up of 500 Funko Pop Jack Skellington heads. Fans went wild over the gown, a piece of couture involving one of the staples of a pop culture collection. Is it the first Funko Pop dress in the world? It might be!

The event opened with models rocking Her Universe’s newest collections for Star Wars and Disney. Multiple pieces from The Clone Wars tenth anniversary collection were shown, including two outfits inspired by villainess Asajj Ventress; other Star Wars pieces shown included a pretty awesome Leia-inspired bomber jacket, which immediately became a must-buy for me personally. The Disney collection included pieces inspired by Ariel, Mulan, Jasmine, Tiana, Rapunzel, and Moana.

As mentioned above, the show featured several special guests. Eckstein was joined onstage by Clone Wars co-stars Matt Lanter (Anakin Skywalker) and Dee Bradley Baker (who voices all the clone characters) to celebrate the show’s return and ten year anniversary. Both were rocking pieces inspired by their characters, but the most magical guest was Jodie Whittaker, who surprised fans while strutting down the catwalk in Her Universe’s upcoming line inspired by her own Thirteenth Doctor.

While addressing the audience, Whittaker talked about how the costume department wanted her costume to be comfortable, and that anyone could wear the upcoming line because “you’re not dressing as a boy; you’re not dressing as a girl; you’re dressing as the Doctor.” For the show to take the stance of having the Doctor’s costume be cute yet gender neutral is wonderful progress for an industry that has women run from dinosaurs wearing heels. (No, I’m still not over that).

Other fun moments included a parade of awesome audience members walking down the catwalk (including several Star Wars cosplayers), as well as the four winners from Cartoon Network’s Junior Designer challenge, who will be helping design a Powerpuff Girls-inspired line for retailer BoxLunch.

But the real stars of the show were the designers who rocked their original fandom couture creations. There were fandom staples like Star Wars and Harry Potter that appeared on the runway, but some very unique geek choices, from Gilmore Girls to Godzilla to the Aliens franchise, that also made their debut. Each outfit was expertly crafted, and the show featured short video clips of the designers talking about their work and what inspired them.

There were three prizes given out at the end of the night. The judge’s award went to Cynthia Kirkland for her lovely “The Couture of Water” gown. Jane Burson won the Singer sewing award for her “Howl-in for You” outift, while Kristi Siedow-Thompson won the audience award with her rocking “PWL Chic: Ripley in the Powerloader.” All three designers will start work today on their upcoming line.

The event was a gorgeous celebration of a new way to express fandom, and proved why it has become one of the jewels of SDCC. Seeing these designers and their talent makes me already reach for my wallet to support their upcoming collection, and as per usual, Eckstein’s positivity and inspiration filled every corner of the room. (Check back later today for a profile of her work). We already can’t wait to see what the designers will bring to next year’s show.

The winners of the 2018 Her Universe Fashion Show pose with Ashley Eckstein in this photo by Brian Sims

(image: Brian Sims)

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Kate (she/her) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions she has. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, she is now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for her favorite rare pairs.