Good to Know: JoAnne at Costumes Period

No point in keeping a good thing a secret, is there? Nah. And so I give you:

Costumes Period in Auburn, WA.

“Historical Costuming since 1983”

A jewel of my hometown memories, and run by the amazing Ms. JoAnne Kirley.

Costumes Period used to be a favorite storefront on Main Street when I was growing up. Push through the glass door and enter an imaginative kid’s fantasy world: racks of overskirts and petticoats, togas and vintage ball gowns, plumey hats on all the walls, chain mail in the corners! Heaven. My best friend in high school even rented a beautiful, white medieval gown for some of her senior portraits.

Eventually, Costumes Period just wasn’t on Main Street anymore, and I assumed they had closed and melted into the ether…. or wherever all the cute and kitcshy old shops in downtown went to die.

How wrong I was.

It’s been years (decades!) now since I pushed through the racks at the old Main Street storefront, but this little world of ours has a habit of bringing back old friends, doesn’t it? See, when I was cast in JourneyQuest this last spring, I –naturally– got a call from the series costumer, asking me to come in for a fitting. Turns out it was my old favorite store, Costumes Period! Well.. more specifically it was the store’s proprietress, JoAnne Kirley. And I’m so happy to know her in person, now!

JoAnne and her team worked wonders for the JourneyQuest cast, creating a fantastical world of color and texture. When the series airs (planned for July 2010), keep your eye out for the amazing array among the Orcs’ garments, and especially the river spirit—her hand-dyed silk gown is to die for. Personally, I am absolutely in love with my own clownish costume (red suede boots, poofy onion breeches, and two-tone tights!) and can’t wait till we start filming again.

And the best news? Costumes Period never left us at all! On the contrary, JoAnne has simply switched from a storefront to a couple of workshops to focus on her custom, handmade orders for rent and (preferably!) sale. For the record, the new storage space in Auburn is even MORE fun to play in… I mean, seriously peruse….

"Surrounded by Acres of Costumes!"

In addition to the Costumes Period website, you can find JoAnne’s beautiful items for sale on Ebay and at her Etsy shop, Dryad’s Rest. She costumes several shows a year for various theatres and helps with fund-raising fashion shows (for instance, a “Victorian Tea” or “Hooray for Hollywood”).

JoAnne leads costuming workshops at conventions and festivals (corset-making is a specialty), makes beautiful period bridal wear, and is active in both the Seattle Knights and the Pirates of the Puget Sound. For herself and so many others, she crafts luxurious costumes for lords and ladies, wenches, pages, royalty, peasants, and—of course—knights to wear at faires and festivals all over the state.

Lady JoAnna of the Seattle Knights, herself!

Edwardian Bridal Gown on Dryad's Rest Etsy Shop

The Infamous "Jack Pack"

So, when I needed a period costume for a staged reading of Racine’s Phedre (to be presented for the Alliance Francaise in Seattle… in French, no less), who else would I dream of calling?

Here’s the gyst of how our conversation went… and a peek into what makes a fantastic costumer:

Me: JoAnne, I need a queenly “Renaissance-era” costume, can you help?

JoAnne: Absolutely, I’ve got oodles to choose from!

Me: Here’s what the director is looking for: Something in a “Renaissance style, not medieval and not 18th century, but anything in between.” Something “that helps portray a somber, melancholy aspect…. but befits a seductress.” And, since he’s already found a red, Henry VIII-style costume for Theseus, the King, “it has to GO with red but preferably not BE red.” Oh, and he also says I should “get something that you like, fits you, and works with your sense of your character.” [Whew!]

JoAnne: Ha! Just love a director who knows what he wants! I have just the thing.

And she did! And it worked beautifully!

JoAnne pulled a gorgeous black velvet gown called “the Anne Boleyn” (a perfect fit for Henry VIII, of course). It’s dark (for the somber mood) with an open, hand-beaded neckline (for the seductress who needs some air while she gracefully succumbs to poison).

Phedre, Staged Reading for the French Alliance of Seattle

And now you know…
call JoAnne at Costumes Period for all your historical/fantastical costuming needs!

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