The Dragon Con Costuming Experience
An unique view of the extraordinary costumers that Dragon Con draws.
by Lawrence Green
At Dragon Con, like at most other conventions, seeing attendees wearing outfits from their favorite fandom is a common site. Unlike other conventions, however, many Dragon Con attendees begin planning their costume-reveals long in advance, reflecting the special position Dragon Con holds for costumers. This con is the quintessential place to see and be seen. Whether the costume is an individual character, group theme, or fandom mashup, planning is serious at Dragon Con. Serious fun. Undeniably unique. (Dogs playing poker, c'mon.)
A costuming element has been an integral part of the convention for 30 years, right from the start. Each year, Dragon Con organizers, who pride themselves on offering a convention experience “for fans, by fans,” provide a multitude of specific "tracks" featuring dedicated programming ranging from widely popular franchises such as Doctor Who, Marvel Cinematic (and Print) Universe, Star Wars, Star Trek, and the "Whedonverse," to specific tracks focusing on tabletop gaming, science, and cryptography, or costuming techniques and research that often are not found at other conventions.
The experience starts on day one, with an informal parade of sorts through the host hotels and continues for the entire event. It is not uncommon for attendees to plan a new look for each day. The annual parade, held on Saturday, is a regular feature and one especially fitting for Dragon Con's premiere status among costumers, with thousands participating and an estimated 75,000 lining the streets to view the fun and fantastic. Of course, the official costume contest isn’t just a costume contest — it’s the Dragon Con Masquerade, where breathtaking creations are brought to life, often enhanced with a brief, dedicated performance. Some outfits are the end-result of years of meticulous planning, research, and detail.
Beyond the vast collection of mainstream fandoms represented, the creativity in costume never ceases to amaze. When was the last time you saw Mother Teresa at a convention? Yes, Mother Teresa and right next to her may be Cersei Lannister. Cersei Lannister and Mother Teresa, along with Starfleet Officers relaxing with their favorite X-Wing Pilot or Asgardian demigods!
Often, the most spectacular aspect is the spot-on re-creation of a particular outfit, right down to the most subtle of details not easily observed in the source material, be it on-screen or in print. Other times, it's the creative thought, as in "The Cult of Marriott Carpet" — a staple at Dragon Con. Sometimes, you have no idea what you are looking at but you are definitely in awe of the scope of vision.
So to the costumers of Dragon Con, we applaud you. We applaud every Admiral Ackbar, every Starfleet officer, every Batman. We applaud the rare Alexander Hamilton. We applaud the fandom mash of Mickey and Minnie Mouse Stormtroopers. We applaud the person in the lion suit and white pants checking his Twitter feed. We applaud the costumers of Dragon Con. Well done — and we look forward to next year!
Lawrence Green — civil servant by day, Jedi by night. He is a photographer. MacGyver to geeks. He loves good film, television, food — and coffee. Good coffee. The Dark Knight is his spirit animal.