I regularly meet fashion editors who don't like Halloween. And, every time, it's baffling. It's like a chef not enjoying Thanksgiving or a pyrotechnician disavowing Independence Day. If your life's passion involves dressing up (or helping others dress up) in evocative, transformative clothes, how can you not enjoy a holiday dedicated to just that? Hate prepackaged Lycra costumes and candy-corn-flavored cocktails all you want, but how could anyone hate Halloween?
Photographed by Maayan Zilberman.
This is my boyfriend dressed up as Dr. Zizmor, a NYC-famous, subway-advertised dermatologist. I'm the before-and-after case, and I painstakingly created each of those zits with Elmer's glue, foundation, and red eyeshadow. They'd actually ooze when you popped them!
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if I had to decide between taking part in Fashion Week and participating in Halloween, I'd have a very hard time choosing (and most of the decision hinges on whether or not I'd get fired for sitting out two months each year). Look — Fashion Week is the best, no matter how many first-person "How To Survive NYFW This Year" stories you may spot out there. It's a twice-a-year chance to see fashion celebrated in all its forms. It's intellectual, it's entertaining, and it's totally fascinating to see an industry turn something that's essentially a trade show into an extravaganza. And, anyone who's ever stumbled upon NYFW knows that there are costumes there, too — and it's not just relegated to Lincoln Center loiterers. I dare you to find me an editor or buyer who hasn't worn something or borrowed something or tried something weird (jackets around shoulders? skirts over pants?) just because it's Fashion Week. Barring Lynn Yaeger or Anna Wintour, most of us fashion people dress up as "fashion people" twice a year.
Photo: Courtesy of Connie Wang.
Halloween 2007 — I dressed up as a Swine Floozy.
Photographed by Piera Gelardi.
Last year, I was a Slot Machine Star. There were nickels in my plastic cup at the beginning of the night, but, by the end, they had magically turned into punch. Oops.
The only difference between what happens during Fashion Week and dressing up for Halloween is the degree of extremity. At its core, putting on clothes for fashion's sake is about dressing up as the person you want to be that day, whether it's "put-together person" or "don't-bother-me person" or "Parisian person by way of Iowa." Having great personal style is about possessing a clear idea of what you want and allowing yourself the freedom and creativity to explore that space. And, we all know that the best All Hallows' Eve costumes are clear and direct, but they're also delightfully unexpected, too. For one day a year, you can literally be anything you want, and for me, that thing is usually witty, silly, one-of-a-kind, and slightly nerdy. And, cheesy, usually (blame the puns). I once deviated into "sexy" territory as Skankhis Khan, but I wore a Fu Manchu mustache for good measure.
Photographed by Laura June Kirsch.
This Halloween, my buds and I dressed as Barbara Walters, Connie Chung, and Maury Povich.
Luckily — blessedly! — I don't have to choose between Fashion Week and Halloween, and both give me an opportunity to play around with fashion in hugely satisfying, super-fun ways. I think that if you love fashion in all its facets — as a material utility, as a social barometer, as a tool for personal expression, and as an art form — you'll understand. The holiday salutes cleverness (instead of disposable income or dress size), and — for once — gives a leg up to the DIYers of the world instead of those who buy right off the rack. But, at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. If you want to be a sexy cat or a sheet ghost on the one night where you can be anything, you do you, ladies (just please avoid pulling a Julianne Hough).