I recently returned from my first visit to the L.A. Garment District and the biggest Dr. Who con in the U.S.: Gallifrey One. Both visits were some of the most fun I have had in years.
I was supposed to have attended last year, but between getting horribly sick and throwing out my back at the same time, it just didn’t happen. Gallifrey was kind enough to reserve my ticket for this year, which also happened to be the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who. Because my oldest daughter (G) is such a big fan, I brought her along as her graduation present from high school. Afterwards she declared it was the “best present EVER.”
I had several outfits planned including one which would have been REALLY FUN, but the fabric that came in the mail had a huge flaw, and had to be returned. So I flew down early with Lis of Dragonfly Designs by Alisa and Arte of Dress Diary of a Renaissance Seamstress and we conquered the garment district and bought ALL the fabric. There might not actually be much left, if you figure in our credit card receipts and costs of additional luggage….
We went to FIDM and saw the costumes nominated for the Oscar in Best Costume Design (we agreed that Eiko and Colleen should have been neck and neck on this one) and there was much silliness with the weeping angel in front of the school:
We stayed at the Hotel Figueroa, which is right across the street from L.A. Live and the Staples Center and is STUNNING. It has been completely redone inside and when you walk in you feel like you have walked right into Morocco.
Conveniently enough, our room had an Arte-sized cushion for extra seating:
And the curtains were deemed so fabulous that there was actual fighting over them.
I wore sandals everyday. The gelato guy claimed there was no gelato because a cold front was moving through. I continued to go without socks. We bought tons of fabric, trims, etc. and in the evenings, we sewed an 18th century robe a la francaise by hand.
Wait, what did I just say? We sewed a francaise BY HAND in the garment district?
Well, yes. Arte had been busy creating a costume of epic proportions for the masquerade and got a little bit behind in her sewing, so we offered to help. Lis had never made a francaise before and was eager to learn, and I am up to #8 or 9 francaises or something, so I figured with 3 of us working on it (and Katherine’s tutorial on the web as back-up) we could knock it out in 4 days before the con. There were several late nights and we did resort to iron-on hemming tape, but it was finished and it looked glorious. There was an iffy moment where I suggested sewing additional trim onto the petticoat and I thought Lis was going to punch me for suggesting more work, but it all worked out in the end and she is still speaking to me. (Hi Lis! WAVES!)
And after wandering mercados and Santee Alley and passing by so very many Mexican restaurants that were LACKING this, I finally was able to have some flan:
We also watched Jeremy Renner and his fine behind in 3-D in the movie “Hansel and Gretel,” had dinner with the lovely Elizabeth and shopped for tiny shoes. LOTS of tiny shoes. And 300 necklaces.
So…. I volunteer for an organization that gives out complete prom outfits to girls that might not otherwise be able to afford them. It is a wonderful organization and a blast to work with. However, they were suffering from a lack of jewelry and shoes for girls with size 4.5-5.5 feet.
Enter the Garment District and the plethora of shops that were willing to “make a deal for you today because you have such beautiful eyes.” We all felt very beautiful by the time we were done shopping, we were told so often about it, lol. We found the necklaces in one shop (where Lis and I bought lovely sequined shawls for $10 each) and the shoes in a tiny shop off of Santee Alley. We wound up with 37 pairs of children’s shoes that looked like they would work. Luckily Arte also has wee feet and was able to help us find suitable options in the children’s section since there was nothing in Women’s shoes ANYWHERE.
I didn’t want to pay more than $7/pair, and the guy didn’t want to go below $10. I talked him down to $9. Then Arte told him sadly (and in great dramatic detail) of the sweet girls of the north with tiny feet and no shoes. He went down to $8.50/pair. Then I offered him cash and he went down to $8, and we decided we were done.
We shipped out all 37 pairs the next day. I had already picked up G from the airport so we took one last day to help Lis spend her fabric budget. Arte and I really didn’t need anything, but that didn’t stop us from buying piles of things.
We headed over to the Gallifrey One hotel and met up with Glynnis of Saharazara on LJ.
We went to the opening ceremonies where I quickly realized that I had no idea who most of the guests were, and that I could be a bit out of my element. I am a fan of Old Who, back when Tom Baker (my Doctor) was the Doctor. I resented poor Peter Davidson for being #5, and couldn’t take the guy seriously as the Doctor because he had just played another role on “All Creatures Great and Small” that was so vastly different from the Doctor. So I refused to watch New Who for a long time. I have seen some episodes of the new seasons and they are quite good. My kids and a lot of my friends love it. This con seemed to have a fairly balanced mix of Old and New fans, but even the Old fans were pretty up to speed with the current seasons, so I did feel at the beginning like the odd man out.
However, this is by far the friendliest con I have ever been to. Everyone was great. Everyone complimented each other on their costumes, patiently waited in line, didn’t bum rush anyone, etc. Even the famous guests hung out with the attendees because everyone was just so excited, but relaxed about it.
The first evening we sent G out in her Clara costume. Clara is the Doctor’s new companion and while previously introduced, was recently featured in the Christmas episode in Victorian attire. G wanted one of the more complicated costumes and we settled on the Barmaid costume. As of this writing the shawl is 1/3 done.
The skirt isn’t QUITE that shiny, but taffeta does odd things with flash bulbs. The red leather Victorian boots were a thrifting find that matched perfectly.
Because her hair is so short, G wore wigs all weekend. The Clara one was very small for some reason and we had to use about a billion hairpins to hold it onto her hair.
While G went out to the parties, the rest of us hung back and finished the rest of our stitching and things got very silly.
G came back to find us cackling and singing things like “Poison” by Bell, Biv, Devoe and shrieking with laughter, and said “Is it always like this?” The answer was YES.
For our first real day of Con we had all decided to do variations of the River Song character, except for G, who dressed as River’s mother (SPOILER!) Amy Pond.
And in what seemed like a scene out of Chinatown, I was dressed as my daughter’s daughter and she was dressed as her mother’s mother. It’s timey-wimey stuff.
It was sort of surreal that morning to put on an entire set of BDUs (battle dress uniform) complete with combat boots, even if it was British Marine Desert camo (screen accuracy is important, folks). I hadn’t worn camo in 21+ years and it was very deja vu. And then I remembered how comfortable it all was and I enjoyed my day.
G changed out of her Amy costume and back into the Clara costume, where she ran into Chloe Dykstra of The Nerdist, in the same costume. They were the only two wearing that costume all weekend. So G got interviewed for The Nerdist and her little nerdy heart was filled with happiness.
She met up with an 11th Doctor and River Song:
And another Clara from the same episode.
I saw some amazing costumes there.
And finally got to meet Colleen who was doing a Warehouse 13 impression, complete with a Farnsworth communication device and a static bag:
That evening was the Masquerade, and we entered as “The Doctor Presents His Fall Collection.” The idea was that the Doctor travels through time, and thus time would influence his clothing collection. We won two awards – Best Interpretation/Presentation Master Division and the fun Project Gallifrey Worksmanship Award. I almost entered us as “Doctor Who Presents” which would have shown what a newb I was, because HELLO, MOM, his name is “The Doctor.”
We were rather the rowdy section of the masquerade and waited in line for a good long time before we went on, because we were near the end. I even taught Capt. Jack how to properly salute, although I doubt anyone in the audience cared during his butt shaking performance. While back in line we made friends with some dancing cardboard Daleks:
An amazing Weeping Angel:
And this guy – Captain Jack Harness:
In reverse order you have G as a 1920’s Robe de Style Weeping Angel, me in my 1890’s River Song costume, Lis in her German Saxon Tardis, Arte in her Elizabethan Dalek (with plunger) and Glynnis in her 18th century Doctor #5 costume with the Wig of Glory.
Waiting for the judging caused things to go from simply silly to downright insane.
The Weeping Angel decided to take out the Tardis:
And then the Dalek tried to do the same thing:
But she maintained her sassiness:
There was a shark that won Best in Show:
And there was silliness with Capt. Jack:
I modeled Jessica’s fedora:
And Arte modeled her amazing ruff made of Christmas ribbon:
Then we rolled up this poor 10th Doctor in con ribbons:
And Glynnis discovered you can wear a fez with anything:
And my very favorite photo of the night:
We danced in the hallways, sang loudly along with the Karaoke and on our own, took and had taken tons of photos and I even set a couple of people straight on how to say “Gallifrey” if you are from Minnesota. I almost lost my skirt at one point, and I had to restrain myself from pulling Glynnis’ curls on her wig. They were very tempting, I assure you. Arte blinded us all with her Dalek head-light.
I had so much fun my ankle swelled up like a melon. And as predicted, I got in the elevator with someone famous, had a lengthy chat, and had no idea who they were until the closing ceremonies when I said, “Hey… wait a minute….”
G had the best story though. She was waiting for the elevator when a man nearby started speaking loudly into his phone. “I need A DOZEN cases of Cristal! We are a multi-million dollar business! Also, I need you to find me a personal assistant, and we need to pay her $7,000 a month. Why $7000? Well, if Wiz Khalifa shows up with some bitches she needs to be cool! That is why we are going to pay her $7000 dollars, SHANNON, so she be cool when the bitches show up.” Then he got off the phone and turned to G and said, “Oh that’s a nice dress. Are you here for a convention?” She said yes, the Doctor Who convention and he said “The Doctor Seuss convention? Sounds like fun!”
I don’t know what is more hysterical – the bitches showing up, or his excitement at the Dr. Seuss Convention.
The last day was a big one – Mark Shepherd was going to speak and everyone wanted to see him. I actually skipped his panel and sat with my foot up and an icy cold beverage. I wore my re-worked #4 knitted bustle, this time with suspenders, which made it much easier to wear. A piece of boning in the bustle came loose and poor Lis had to climb under my skirt and rescue it. I forgot my blouse, but was able to cover myself with my cravat, otherwise I would have been The Very Slutty Looking 4th Doctor.
Earlier in the day I participated in a Femme Doctors photo shoot (which was hysterical) and another #4 offered me a bag of Jelly Babies.
Glynnis photo-bombed a bunch of 11’s dressed as a Vampire of Venice, and I didn’t get a single photo of her. I got interviewed about women in cosplay. And I finally had photos taken with this thing:
G also had her photo taken with it, in her Reinette aka Madame de Pompadour costume:
I had a few problems with her dress which included not measuring before I cut different panels, and thanks to Katherine’s tutorial I was able to save it.
An Adipose had a tragic accident:
And we discovered that our hotel was hazardous:
I had photos taken with tons of other 4th Doctors, and a woman actually stalked me from the bathroom to take a photo of the bustle. I have never had so many people ask to take photos of my butt:
Lis and Arte and I happened to be in the costume repair room when Scott Sebring was finishing up shooting photos and was willing to do formal shots for us.
I also got a really nice shot of the costume itself:
We went to the closing ceremonies where we found that Arte and Lis had made it into the video of all the excitement from the weekend. After that we went to dinner on the Queen Mary to celebrate. After amazing seafood and enormous desserts, we headed back for the After After Party.
Arte was rather tired and we forced her to come along.
And everyone decided they had had a wonderful time.
It really was tremendous fun, and G and I had a great time together. It was the first time she got to see what I do when I go to Cons, as well as hang with my friends. I am very glad we went. From the shopping to the meeting up with people I had never met before to the flan to the craziness of the masquerade to dining on the Queen Mary, it was a helluva good time.
However, I have also never had a Con kick my butt like Gallifrey did. Maybe it was the shopping trip before hand, maybe it was the walking endlessly to our hotel room at the exact opposite end of everything in the hotel, and maybe I didn’t drink enough water. Who knows, but the recovery has been rough.
I think this photo sums up the end of every con I have ever been to:
If you are a Doctor Who fan (even a tiny one), I would highly recommend Gallifrey One. Next year is their 25th Anniversary and it promises to be a GREAT TIME.