Syd had big dreams for her Trashion/Refashion Show design this year. She wanted it to have a wrap skirt that she'd unwrap, mid-runway walk, to reveal as wings. A giant hood. Black velvet and silver sparkles.
And she wanted it to be covered in twinkle lights.
We went through several iterations of this dream, she and I, in between selling Girl Scout cookies like our lives depended on it, especially with that skirt. Twinkle lights, AND a transformation from wrap-around to wings, which means that we obviously needed two skirts, because she can't be skirt-less when her wings are revealed.
I did eventually figure out a way to make it happen using prodigious amounts of Velcro, but in the meantime I transformed a pair of black pants and a fancy dress into an underskirt so nice that Syd decided that maybe the wrap-around skirt part of the wings (and most particularly, with the wing fabric being so plain) could be ditched. The outfit, to be sure, did already have enough going on.
Instead, Syd cut out wearable wings--
--and decided on a runway move that would hide them until a big reveal.
Fortunately, the rest of the outfit went more according to plan. Syd thrifted a couple of pairs of black velvet pants and a single silver blouse that I used every inch of for the hooded shirt that I sewed her--I'm especially proud of the epaulets that used to be part of the shirt's bottom hem. The rest of that hem was used to flesh out the hood, and I cut the shirt's body into two three-quarters-length sleeves.
The twinkle lights were also tricky. For the photo shoot to accompany our application, I safety-pinned on a couple of packs of battery-operated twinkle lights, but it didn't give the effect that Syd really wanted:
She wanted white lights, and more of them. I got the idea to perhaps hook up a long string of conventional plug-in lights to a converter and then a battery pack, a set-up that's not very energy efficient but is upcycled and would, I believed, give the effect that Syd wanted. The problem, though, is that it was also heavy, with a converter box and two 6v lantern batteries. A friend helped me set the rig up, but when I tested it I realized that I'd need at least one more battery for a workable system, and the rig was already so heavy that I had to toss the plan altogether.
That night, another friend messaged me to tell me that she actually had a couple of strands of battery-operated white LED twinkle lights. Did I want to borrow them?
Reader, I DID!
For the first time this year, Syd filled out her own application. I don't know why it never occurred to me before to ask her to do that part, since it's her design through-and-through--some things only seem obvious in retrospect.
And I *should* have been having her fill out her application all along, because the kid nailed it! Here's what she wrote when asked to describe her design:
While average super heroes wear capes, REAL super heroes wear wings! Supergirl of the Night is crafted from four different pieces of thrift-store clothing including velvet pants transformed into a skirt and hooded shirt, shirts repurposed into silver sleeves, and wings made from an old blanket. The hood allows cover from rain and helps blend into the shadows. The sparkly silver sleeves reflect all bullet blasts and blend into day as well as night. The wings allow easy gliding and provide a cover of darkness for surprising enemies. The black shiny skirt hides many epic weapons to protect the innocent. Finally, Supergirl of the Night has a multi-colored string of lights to light up the night, from old Christmas lights with portable battery packs.
I tried to convince Syd that she should paint an old pair of black tights that I'd cut the feet out of back when the kids were modeling The Awesomes, but she had her heart set on wearing the tacky fishnet tights that I've owned ever since I went to that Halloween street party with Mac at least twenty years ago, probably 21 or 22 years ago by now. He dressed as John Hinckley Jr. in a bloodstained T-shirt that he'd used iron-on letters to put "I LOVE JODIE" on. I was dressed as... I don't even know what I was supposed to be, but a friend let me borrow this weird net dress that she said she'd got in Mexico, and I put on black lipstick and fishnet tights, so I think I was supposed to be some sort of sexy murder Goth or something? I have a photo that she took just before we left, with me attempting to vamp in a sexy murder Goth sort of way (I had no idea what I was doing, bless my heart) and Mac standing next to me looking bemused.
I miss him so much. I miss him all the time, so much.
So Syd wore the fishnet tights, and I bought her a pair of black Chucks to go with them (I bought myself a gorgeous pair of blue Chucks at the same time, and they're fabulous and I love them). And when I got the email that we were accepted in the show, we were in our hotel room in Atlanta, and Syd was so excited that she hyperventilated and I thought she was going to pass out for a second.
Even after you've completed your garment and you're accepted in to the show, there's still so much to do! It works best for Syd as a model if she creates and then practices an actual runway routine--and yes, I DID get this idea from watching Toddlers and Tiaras on Netflix, but I swear, it works so well! When we lived in town, Syd would draw a runway in chalk on the basketball court of the local park and we'd practice there every day, but now we have enough room that we can have a chalk runway on our own driveway, and a miniature masking tape runway in our family room. At our first rehearsal for the show, the showrunner demonstrates a proper walk, including the points where she'd like every model to stop and for how long--I videotape that as a reference, and we use that to help Syd craft her routine. When she gets the routine the way she likes it, I videotape that, as well, and she watches it before she practices every day.
It's a lot of work being a runway model!
Syd also had to figure out her hair and makeup. Her hair, she was disappointed to realize, wasn't going to show from underneath her wide hood, so she focused her attention on Googling makeup ideas, and asked the volunteer makeup artist from Tricoci University to give her smoky eyes.
Which she did!
The rest of the makeup--blush and black lipstick with a silver vertical line running down the middle of her bottom lip (which people remarked upon the most out of anything, even though it took me five seconds to do with a small paintbrush and our clown makeup palette)--we did backstage before the show.
Even though the show doesn't start until 7 pm, Syd and I spend the whole day together, first getting her hair and makeup done, then at the theater:
The dress rehearsal takes FOREVER (and this year we rebelled by making Syd the only model who didn't dress for the dress rehearsal--in my mind, it's just one more chance to mess her garment or her makeup up and to wear down the batteries in her twinkle lights), and then we watch the opening act's dress rehearsal, and then we find somewhere to hang out and watch a movie (Beauty and the Beast this year) while doing each other's nails, and then pizza is delivered so Syd chows down on that for a while--
and then, surprisingly, it's already time to get Syd dressed and get the rest of her makeup on.
While we're doing that last bit, the rest of our family is doing this!
The Trashion/Refashion Show is recorded and plays on our local public access TV station a few times a year, but Matt always makes a bootleg video recording of Syd's walk from his spot in the audience. I present to you, then, Supergirl of the Night!
My heart can hardly handle watching Syd perform. I love watching how enthusiastic the audience is, and how happy they are to cheer her on. Every year she's more confident on the stage, and every year she enjoys it more.
Me, though? My favorite moment is this--
Because we do that photo at intermission, when we are DONE! We just have to walk around and schmooze, show off the battery packs to interested audience members, let Syd answer questions about her process and the materials she's used, have her pose for photos with people, and then we get to sit and watch the runway show dedicated to the Trashion designs.
And even later than that, we get to walk down the streets of our town with one of us looking like this:
And because our town is the way it is, nobody even bats an eye. I don't even think we were the weirdest-looking group out there that night.
Syd has already told me that next year, she wants to apply for the Trashion part of the show. This worries me, because Trashion design is trickier, using more unusual materials that can be harder to source (although really, I suppose that we should have been put in the Trashion half that year that I made Syd's garment out of a sheet). Syd has also, however, told me something else that makes me far, far, far happier.
Next year, she says that she wants to sew her garment herself.