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12 March 2018

What's a "Costume?"

The Merriam-Webster definition of “Costume” is “a set of clothes in a style typical of a particular country or historical period.” Theaters & films use costumes for storytelling and world building. A bishop wears a costume to denote his rank, and a festival goer wears theirs to maximize their “transformative escape”

The word “Costume” in French means “suit,” as in the style you would wear to Wall Street, while the French equivalent of “Costume” is a “déguisement” which the linguists among you have probably already noticed bears a striking resemblance to “disguise” something a costume is very proficient at doing.

“Costuming” has carried a thousand names in a hundred lost languages, from ancient kingdoms to prehistoric tribes. We’ve been “costuming” ourselves since the dawn of time, for religion,  historical reenactment, or just to escape the mundane.
 
Amazing costumes allow us to radically transform ourselves and the way others perceive us. Sadly, the “costume” has had a fall from grace in the last decades. Consumerism and Globalism created a “race to the bottom” between cost and quality. Cheap disposable toys have hijacked the once prestigious “costume” and made for ever less satisfying costuming.
 
Polyester banana “costumes” and inflatable fat ballerinas make for great laughs but they don't transform you, or give you 1/10th of the “experience” that a quality costume can afford. At Chrysalis we’re taking back the costume. You're not going to find cheap toys on our marketplace, but you will find an ever-increasing number of amazing costumes at prices that will make a banana blush.


Categories: History Of Costuming
26 October 2017

Masquerading

Just what is it that makes dressing up in costumes so much fun? What is it about "making pretend" and "disguising yourself" that people are so drawn to? 

Halloween is the one night a year that our society agrees its ok to loosen the ties and abandon the social norms. Want to dress as a chicken and run around the downtown? No problem! Feel like donning Batman's cape and prowling the streets. Go for it. On Halloween, it's weird if you're not doing something weird in a costume. 

Costuming is such a catharsis not because your "disguising yourself" but because when you dress in costume it is one of the only times you are actually not dressing in costume. Now that may sound paradoxical but ask yourself. Why are you wearing jeans, and a shirt? Or your hairstyle in a certain manner? Well, its because most of the time we are in "Costume" masquerading as what society has collectively decided "normal people" should look like.

Dress up as a Knight and it's not because it's socially "acceptable" (unless your judge is Don Quixote) but because you chose to dress up that way. The moment you choose your costume is when the liberation begins. As the great Oscar Wilde once said, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.“ 

Radiohead's "homesick alien" song sums it up nicely, describing “all these weird creatures who lock up their spirits. drill holes in themselves, and live for their secrets”. We can’t forget we are complex creatures with quirks and qualities that society tries but fails to "iron out" of all of us. 

Society isn’t all bad, but from where I stand, there is a serious cross-cultural theme of repression of inner-self. Sometimes, the mammal in us needs to dance around a bit. Your Id needs out and a mask is a key to unlocking society's chains. 
 
 


Categories: Halloween
26 October 2017

A Taste of the Waste: A Quick Primer on Costume Consumption

It pains me to say it, but this attitude that "we should probably stop poisoning our habitat", the one that was so popular at the turn of the century, has fallen out of vogue the past few years. It isn't entirely surprising that people have lost interest, or even more, insisted the whole 'climate change' thing is just a fad. Being the naggy person that reminds everyone they should put their beer bottles in a different bin then their candy wrappers and that they should keep their lights off when they're not in the room is isn't going to earn you very many friends. Maybe that's the problem with being environmentally conscious: people think of you as just a less entertaining incarnation of Reverend Moore from Footloose. C'mon dude, we just want to dance!

I get why people are tired and annoyed of hearing about all the things they shouldn't be allowed to do anymore. Listening to some dweeby scientist talk about rising ocean levels is not nearly as fun as watching, say, footage of a bald Britney Spears attack an SUV with an umbrella. Then again, I can count on one hand the number of things that are more entertaining than watching a bald Britney Spears attack an SUV with an umbrella.

I think It's hard for people to imagine the kind of damage we do to the earth. We look outside to our front lawns and think, "Things don't look so bad. Bernie Sanders should stop fussing and comb his hair already." The second half of that sentence, every reasonable person should agree with. But our geriatric friend from the Green Mountain State is quite right in fussing. Oh, in fact, the more profusely he, and anyone else who's concerned about the longterm health of our planet, fusses, the better off we all are.  

A real issue from where I see it is that so many of these environmentally conscious folks adopt too much of an alarmist tone. They rely on scare tactics such as "If we don't change directions now, then Earth is doomed." Every person who hears that comes away totally deflated. Picture Jane Schmo, listening to NPR on her way to work. She hears that, and may well indeed be wiilling to change her lifestyle completely to be more 'green'. But there's a natural leniancy in us humans to suspect futility because it seems farfetched to expect that everyone else will cold-turkey-overhaul their lifestyles, so that a few generations down the road could maybe have a better planet. Here's the thing I don't find enough environmental activists stress enough: we only have to do a little bit better to make a huge difference. 

According to the EPA, if we increase our national recyling rate from "27 percent to 35 percent, [it] would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 11.4 million metric tons of carbon equivalent... over landfilling the same material. (https://archive.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/tools/payt/web/html/factfin.html).

If on top of that, we all decided to cut our national waste by just 5%, combined with the aforementioned 7% increase in recycling, it would be equivalent to nullifying 12 Million households worth of emissions with respect to electricity consumption. With the average U.S. household being comprised of roughly 2.5 people, that's like having 30 Million less people using electricity. There are less than 30 Million people who live in New York and New Jersey combined! That's quite a dent we'd be making.

Well then, maybe we should think of a few ways to encourage people to recycle more? Look at Michigan, for instance. Civilians would receive a $0.10 refund for every recyclable bottle or can they redeemed. This incentivisation to properly handle waste yielded a 96% for the whole state in 2011.  Well, that seems like a pretty good start to me. That exceeds the 35% we talked about earlier by a heckuva lot, and if Michigan has shown us anything good (because we sure as hell know they've shown us a lot of bad. Have you watched Hardcore Pawn?) it's that we can do it if we put our minds to it.

It's not just bottles and cans that we should be concerned about with respect to waste management. 

Think for a moment about the amount of clothes that you've owned across your life. Now, after you've outgrown, or simply grown tired of, some of those clothes, how many have you given to someone else second hand? Hopefully a lot, because according to Henrik Lampa, H&M's development sustainability manager, only 0.1% of the textile from all clothing donated to charities and take-back programs can be recycled and used again. The rest, as you've likely surmised, is simply waste. 

This statistic was alarming for us, and should be for anyone with their brain screwed on straight. A crucial part of Chrysalis' mission is to not recycle, but re-use perfectly good costumes. 

Can you think of any article of clothing that people almost ubiquitously use once and throw away like a costume? We can't. The amount of wasted textile fiber from the costume industry, which sells around 3 Billion dollars in sales every year, is pretty astronomical. The way I see it, if this company can help you save money on your costumes, and you can ease the strain on the planet by decreasing the demand of excessive costume production, we are all acting pretty heroic ; )

Do you have any more good ideas of how to keep the planet cleaner, or help incentivize proper waste management? Leave your idea's below.
 

 
 


Categories: DIY Costumes

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