Press Club

Arts Focus: Arlington’s CostumeLab Helps Superheroes Keep It Together

This column is written and sponsored by Arlington Arts / Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

Wonder Woman’s bullet-proof bracelets are falling off… Black Panther’s impenetrable vibranium suit is torn… Superman spilled soy sauce all over his cape… What’s a superhero to do?

Well, CosPlay enthusiasts in the DC Metro area are getting used to stopping by the Arlington CostumeLab Cosplay Repair Booth at local conventions.

CosPlay, a contraction of the words costume play, involves participants wearing costumes to represent a character from anime, cartoons, films or comic books. The conventions, or comi-cons that welcome this growing community of hobbyists are big business, and Crystal City is a major stop on the nationwide convention circuit.

The initial collaboration was sparked a couple of years ago when Arlington’s Convention and Visitors Services (ACVS) called on Arlington Cultural Affairs (which is also a Division of Arlington Economic Development) to see how we might partner with a new cosplay event: Blerdcon.

Derived from the term “Blerd” which is short for ‘black nerd’, Blerdcon welcomes all while celebrating the connection with the differently-abled, and people of color, international and LGBTQ communities.

An immediate hit with CosPlayers, the Booth offers micro-classes, cosplay material/technique demonstrations and a full repair booth with talented costume crafts artisans to mend your cosplay right on site!

Word continues to spread, and now the Arlington CostumeLab Cosplay Repair Booth is a presence at several regional events, including Escape Velocity 2017 and 2018. Blerdcon returns to Crystal City on July 27-29.

The Arlington CostumeLab has been serving the theater and film community in the Washington DC, metropolitan area and nationwide for over 50 years. Offering high quality, theatrical grade costume rentals to nonprofit performing arts organizations and companies in the for-profit theater, television and film industries.

You have seen pieces CostumeLab’s collection in productions as varied as HBO’s The Wire and The History Channel’s Lincoln, to Signature Theatre’s watershed production of Passion.

Managed by Jennifer Biehl, who has a B.F.A. in Fashion Design and Marketing and an M.F.A. in Costume Design and Technology, the costume rental stock includes over 22,000 pieces including period garments for men and women, modern dress, hats, shoes, military service uniforms, capes, corsets, armor and more.

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