Whether Game of Thrones, or Downton Abbey, or any other historical show or movie, the costumes are just as critical as the storyline. They lend authenticity to the story’s setting and help entice the viewer into that world. It’s no wonder there is a local group interested in costume design – allow me to introduce you to Jennifer and Sheryl of the Kansas City Costumers’ Guild.
What is your name and what is your role in the group?
Jennifer Old-d’Entremont, President of the Kansas City chapter, and Sheryl Nance-Durst, Treasurer
How would you describe your group?
The KCCG is a chapter of the International Costumers’ Guild, a non-profit organization that seeks to bring hobbyist, academic, and professional costumers from around the world together, and to foster locally costume-related educational and social events. We welcome everyone who has an interest in the making, wearing, study or celebration of all forms of costume and are open to costumers of all ages and skill levels.
When was the group founded?
We petitioned the ICG for inclusion as a chapter in November 2007. Our first event was a tea in January 2008.
How long have you been a member, and what made you want to join the group?
Jennifer showed up to that tea back in 2008 and had no idea the rabbit hole that it would lead her down. Sheryl has been a member since 2011, when she found the guild through their booth at the Kansas City MakerFaire.
How often do you meet?
We meet informally monthly, and aim for at least one additional field trip or “excuse to costume” event each month.
Where do you meet?
Informal meetups are hosted at member’s homes around the KC metro on a rotating basis. Field trips and special events usually take place within an hour or so of the city, but members have met up at events hosted by other organizations across the Midwest.
How big is the group?
We have 200 followers/members of our Facebook group, only 11 of which are official members of the International Costumers’ Guild. Official guild membership is not required to attend our events or participate in the Facebook group, but guild members get a discount on guild-sponsored event fees, as well as voting rights and newsletter with the ICG.
What do you do at meetings/events?
It varies. At meetups we’ll work on a current costume project, get assistance with fittings, input on designs or how to approach a recreation. We’ve held book clubs, fabric swaps, and movie nights. For special events, we’ve gone out to dinner, for walks in the arboretum, and visits to costume-related movies, exhibits, and displays.
What do you love about the group?
Sheryl: It is wonderful interacting with people who love costumes as much as I do! And we learn a lot of techniques from each other because we are all at different levels of skill. We are also a very helpful and inclusive group that welcomes beginners with encouragement but no judgement. We don’t even care if you make your costumes or buy them.
Jennifer: I get such a thrill out of interacting with others who are passionate about the same ‘odd’ hobby as I am. Even if we’re not into the same type of costuming, there’s a shared appreciation for good craftsmanship, new skills, and the fun in getting to play dress up.
Tell us about a particularly memorable moment in the group.
Sheryl: We attempted our first all-day workshop this past year. It had a Steampunk accessories theme. Different members offered to teach sessions. Attendees went home with leather cuff bracelets, gear earrings, goggles, hand-painted fans and decorated top hats.
Jennifer: We’ve always been one of the smaller guilds in the ICG. A few years ago, we finally had enough members from our guild show up for Costume-Con, where the annual ICG meeting takes place. Fifty percent of our official guild members attended and were able to give out the first ever guild-sponsored award from Kansas City at one of the formal costume competitions. The thunderous recognition from the entire audience for that achievement really solidified how coming upon the ICG has been a ‘finding my people’ sort of experience for me.
What future plans lay ahead for the group?
We’ll be having an Alice in Wonderland themed picnic and dyeing workshop this summer. There are also plans in the making for themed dinner outings and museum visits over the coming year.
What’s something you love about Kansas City?
Sheryl: I love that Kansas City has a Midwest attitude with much more entertainment and food options than most Midwest cities. In other words, there’s lots of stuff to do and the people are nice!
Jennifer: Kansas City is porch light of the Midwest, drawing together all of the artists, dreamers, eccentrics, and creative types, making a tremendous and diverse pool of opportunity from which to draw out others with shared interests.