One of my favorite things about SDCC was going to the Her Universe Fashion Show. The two hour show was always at capacity and well-worth the wait since attendees were treated to swag bags and surprise appearances by celebrities as judges and even audience members. But it, like all of ComicCon’s panels, was never accessible otherwise–which I always thought was a damn shame.
This virtual presentation had everything a Her Universe Fashion Show should have, including being able to vote for the audience fave. We also got to see many cats, a corgi, heard a dog barking offscreen — and got to see a dachshund on the runway.
This year’s theme was “community,” like many post-pandemic events, but while that was the vibe that many designers spoke to in their bio videos, it was not something you saw on the runway, which made me ask why have a theme at all.
Because it’s not really about the theme. It’s about the clothes and the fandoms.
I also think there was a missed opportunity to include more international designers. Since this was all filmed remotely, there was no reason why more international designers couldn’t have been featured, or even sought out deliberately, since fandom isn’t just local community — it’s global.
The designers that did get selected represented a pretty wide range of fandoms. This year it was interesting to see a higher proportion of smaller fandoms. Yes, there was Star Wars. Yes, there was Marvel. Yes, there were TWO WandaVision dresses. But there was an increase in small fandoms, including fandoms you may never have heard of — like Bob Ross, Lore Olympus, and Miraculous Ladybug. I also want to note that, for the first time ever, there was not a single Harry Potter design. I don’t know if that was an accident or a conscious choice by Her Universe, but I hope for the latter, and a lifetime ban on Harry Potter designs in general.
The runway suffered in some ways because the designers submitted their own videos. Many opted to wear and walk the designs themselves, as opposed to having a model that they dressed. For the runway walk, designers appeared to have a lot of leeway. Many designers opted for an outdoor runway (one even did a walk down an alleyway, complete with garbage cans, which was unfortunate), although a few did an indoor walk. Some made an effort to match their runway with the theme of their outfit or fandom, but I feel this was also a missed opportunity — this time by the designers. I’d be interested to know if there were any rules or guidelines given.
For the designs, there seemed to be more of a split than usual between designers doing ready-to-wear looks and not runway looks. This was supposed to be Geek Couture, and if it doesn’t pop on the runway, it’s not couture. The judges seemed to forget this too when naming two essentially ready-to-wear looks joint winners.
Chess Can Be Beautiful – The Queen’s Gambit
I loved the miniseries and it was extremely cool to see a smaller fandom like this get attention. I love the capelet and the full look, but it didn’t have the same runway appeal as my favorites.
To Unite All Fashions Within Our Nation – Pokemon
One of the judges knew Teighler’s work and techniques and another praised the ready-to-wear-ness of the outfit. Maybe I’ve just seen too many other Pokemon entries in the past, but this one did not impress me.
The Designers Who Understood The Assignment
To The Bus! – The Magic School Bus
Even a not-so-amazing runway show couldn’t lessen the impact of this amazing dress. So ethereal, whimsical, and beautiful, I immediately wanted to run out and buy an embroidery machine.
Stay Toasty – Ghostbusters
The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was a showstopper–not just because of its overall design, but for the light-up effect. It would have been an absolutely killer runway moment to see live.
Darth Vader in Vogue – Star Wars
The overall look was Incredibly chic and reminded me of an illustration you’d find on a vintage sewing pattern. But the runway moment when the skirt was hinged and lifted overhead to become a Death Star backdrop was everything.
The Red Coat and Hat – Carmen Sandiego
I love a good Carmen Sandiego cosplay, and seeing Katie roll onto the runway with a full wheelchair cosplay look was not only a great outfit, but an important runway moment for all designers — and not just geek designers.
Scarlet Witch – WandaVision
There was a great reveal for a WandaVision “black and white” coat to a Scarlet Witch dress underneath, and the designer made the best use of the “I’m making a video why do I have to stay in one location?” aspect of pre-recording.
Clan Fraser Couture – Outlander
Watch the runway show and vote (before 11:59pm PST on 7/25) for your favorite design here on the Her Universe website!