Since 2014, Her Universe has been hosting a Fashion Show at San Diego Comic-Con. Each year dozens of designers submit original “Geek Couture" looks in hopes to be selected for the show and compete for a chance to design a collection for Hot Topic. In 2021, 25 designers were selected to participate in the Her Universe Fashion Show and it just so happens that Laughing Place knows one of the contestants! I recently had the opportunity to talk with Christine Geiger (@geigeruppercut_art) about her Fashion Show experience, the outfit she designed, and our favorite fandoms.
Bekah Burbank: Hi everybody. I'm Bekah Burbank from Laughing Place and I am joined today by Christine Geiger, who is a fashion designer and artist. And we're going to talk a little bit about her involvement in the Her Universe Fashion Show 2021. Welcome Christine.
Christine Geiger: Hi. It's nice to be here.
BB: Thank you so much for joining me. Will you start by sharing a little about your fashion background and how long you've been designing fashions and sewing?
CG: I moved from the central coast of California to Los Angeles to study at Otis College of Art and Design, and I got my Bachelor's degree in fashion design from there. And then, after school, I started working in swimwear design because I live in LA. It's a big industry here, and I've actually been designing some suits for about 15 years now, and I love it. But also on the side, I love cosplay. I love fandoms and all things nerdy. And normally, these are things that exist in my life in two very separate categories of my runway fashion life, and then my nerdy fandom life. That's also the amazing thing about the Her Universe where I can really combine those two things.
BB: That's so cool. Swimwear design, that sounds fantastic.
CG: It's a lot of fun. A lot of people ask me why I've stuck with swimwear so long, but I love the prints. I love how much you can do in just a small amount of space. It's like shoes too. If you do shoe wear design, you just have this amount of space, but then you can just go nuts on it, and it's a lot of fun. And I love swimming too, and being outside and swimming. I wear my designs when I can.
BB: Oh, that's so cool. I saw that you were part of the 2019 Her Universe Fashion Show. How did you get involved in the first place and how was that experience different from this year's?
CG: I'm very lucky to have been selected twice for it. I had kind of heard about the show from people going to Comic-con and just posting pictures of it and it sounded really, really fun. But I don't know, I didn't put two and two together that it could be something that I could be part of until I went to WonderCon, which I love going to and I really, really miss.
CG: And I was cosplaying at WonderCon in 2019 and there was a Her Universe panel that I went to and it was so exciting. It was very inclusive and it just seemed like such a community. And I was just like, "I'm going to try to get in. I don't know if I necessarily will." But it really opened the possibilities that it was something that I could actually do.
CG: I got three designs together and I submitted, and that year was sponsored by Netflix She-Ra, so I made sure to include a design based on Swift Wind from She-Ra. And that's what I did in 2019, which was a lot of fun. And then, how they're different. It was a pretty different experience this year. We had half the time to make it, so that was a big thing.
CG: When I submitted this time, I wanted to make sure that I could actually do the things that I submitted within the amount of time that I had, because I am still working a full time job as well. And so, yeah, half the time was the biggest thing and then just not having the live runway show is… It's such a fun experience. And I miss being backstage and meeting all the designers in person, but we did do video chats every week with all the designers, which was something new and super fun.
CG: And I got to be able to get to know people a little bit more that way. And also one positive thing from it being virtual this year is I had opportunities to do multiple takes. I can say that I did not use the first take on anything that I did so that was a really positive thing from this year. Because, in 2019, I sure did walk that runway really fast. It was nice to have some more time. There's pros and cons of being virtual, but both of them were incredible experiences that I would highly recommend to anybody if you're at all interested in trying out for the show.
BB: Everything always looks amazing. I haven't followed it very in depth, but every time I look at what people have done, I'm just amazed by all the talent.
CG: And that was one of the things that I missed this year was being backstage. Because, as incredible as things look onscreen, they're so much more intricate and amazing up close. And if anyone ever has a chance to see the live show, because all the designers come into the crowd afterwards and you can see it all up close and there's just incredible detail on everything.
BB: Maybe 2022.
CG: I hope so. I don't know, but that would be nice. I really hope so.
BB: Can we talk about your Scarlet Witch dress? You had a gray scale coat and then a red dress underneath? How did that idea come about?
CG: I was a big fan of the comic's House of M for Scarlet Witch and the Vision comic for Vision's. And they were both two characters that I really, really loved that I wanted to see more of. I was very excited when WandaVision came out and I was even more excited because I was such a giant Nick at Nite fan growing up. I watched all the Nick at Nite shows so I knew exactly what they were referencing in all of them. And I love that whole retro feel, but also I love that they referenced Wanda's, Scarlet Witch's, classic look in the Halloween episode.
CG: And then like everybody, I'm obsessed with her new costume. I wanted to make sure that I had all of those elements in it. And the whole show is sort of a transition from retro to modern so I really wanted my look to also be the idea of going from retro to modern. I started with a black and white, kind of gray scale look. And then, when I opened up my coat, I wanted it to just be that beautiful, bright modern pops of color.
BB: Oh, it's awesome. I was blown away when we were watching the fashion show.
CG: Oh, thank you.
BB: It's so amazing. I feel you definitely captured, I guess, the tone even of the show with your two different looks. Both the coat that you had and the dress are so detailed. Which was harder to assemble?
CG: Oh, okay. It was, actually, the dress for me was harder because when… I was able to find a really nice pattern block that I started with with the coat. I started from scratch on the dress. At least, I had a starting place for the coat and it's also made with wool, which I don't know if anyone has ever sewed wool, it's such a dream to sew with. It does whatever you want.
CG: It doesn't pucker. Where as opposed to the dress has vinyl in it and all of those other fabrics that are a little bit more tricky and I had points and corseting on the dress. Definitely, the coat did not fight me as much as the dress.
BB: Well, that's good. I looked on your Instagram and I saw you submitted two other designs for this year's fashion show. Can you tell me a little bit about those?
CG: Yeah. Every year you can submit up to three designs, which I usually… It also takes me, to narrow that down, because I usually do more than that. This year, I submitted it with the WandaVision one and then I submitted one based on Rainbow Brite because I always think colors are so beautiful on the runway and pop, and that was definitely my most dramatic look. But then, the one that was closest to my heart, because it has been my obsession in the last year, I did one based on Hades video game, which I am a huge, huge fan of. I love the mythology and the colors. I like to pick things with interesting colors. I think my swimwear side definitely comes through in my designing as well.
CG: And then, in previous years, I also designed… The year that I submitted the Swift Wind one, I also submitted one for Pixar's Up that I still want to make. I still want to make it some day because it's probably one of my favorite designs I've submitted. And then, one based on the infinity gauntlet as well.
CG: I have some looks in my back pocket that I still need to get to.
BB: Regarding that Hades dress. I've never played the game. I don't know what it is but I loved that design, just the colors that you had. I'm like, "I want to wear that."
CG: Oh, thank you. I mean, that is one of the things, picking more mainstream stuff, if you're doing Disney princesses, people are usually aware of what that is. If you are picking something maybe a little less known, you definitely want to make sure you're selling it on the look. If people don't know… There's even stuff in the show that I'm not really sure of the fandom, but I just love the look. You definitely want to combine things that'll appeal to not just people that are fans of the genre.
BB: Yeah, indeed. And then, I know we've talked a little bit about fandom. Are you a big Marvel/Disney fan or what are your favorite fandoms?
CG: Oh, absolutely. Anytime there's any release, it's always something to be excited about. I would say for Marvel, I mean, I love all the Avengers stuff. But talking about Hades, I am a big mythology person so I love Thor. I love all that Norse mythology. And I loved watching Loki because they were diving into that a little bit more and there's some weird, wild stuff in Norse mythology that I'm hoping they still have time to get to. I love all of that. And then, for Disney, I mean, I will always be a Little Mermaid girl at heart. But my very first cosplay I ever did was actually a mashup cosplay of Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Hellraiser. I did a Belleraiser cosplay, which I think, it was funny to find how many people, they were like, "Those are my two favorite movies." I'm like, "That's weird, but I love you."
BB: That's awesome. Did you use her yellow gown or was it-
CG: I did. I used her yellow gown, but I had a black, vinyl jacket on and I had her hair, but with the makeup. I definitely got a lot of positive reaction from that one. I love that whole combination of dark and light, which I think you get in both Marvel and Disney as well. But I definitely pushed it to the extreme that time.
BB: Hey, you got to, right?
CG: I mean, you got to have fun, right?
BB: Yes. And then, just a few more questions. I saw your concept art for Disney Princess bathing suits based on their iconic looks. Were those actually made or were they just a dream project?
CG: Actually, the origin of those ones is I bought my first iPad in January of 2020, right before the pandemic, with the idea of learning how to do digital drawing. Because when I was in school, we didn't really have digital drawing. That was my goal. I did not know that I was going to have so much time to learn how to digitally draw. It was the perfect time to buy an iPad. But, for my first project, I wanted to do what I know, which is swimwear, but also incorporate my fandom side as well. And they were not ever made because I'm actually… I am just full constantly of ideas and I am not as strong… I get by sewing. I do what I can, but I'm definitely pumping out ideas faster than I'm actually making looks, but maybe someday. But swimwear, let me tell you, it is not easy to sew.
BB: Oh, yeah, because the material is always… Well, sometimes it's stretchy or...
CG: You have that four-way stretch, and then people don't understand how much goes into it. There's rubber and cups and stays and if your fit is off on swimsuits, it's not going to look good. But, hopefully, someday. That would be really cool.
BB: That would be. That would be awesome. You had some really great concept art.
CG: Oh, thank you.
BB: And then, finally, if you could design anything for a Disney character, what would it be and why?
CG: Oh, that's a really good question. Oh, there's so many good ones. My favorite, absolute favorite, Disney scene is the wizard fight in Sword in the Stone. And I think Mad Madam Mim needs an outfit. I would love to design her something. I haven't yet. I don't think I have. I love her lavender and purple combination, and then I love all the animals. I would love to incorporate the different animals she turns into. I think she needs a Met Gala look or something fancy. I mean, she's been dealing with a virus and we're all a little more sympathetic to that these days. And I think she needs a fancy going out, reemerging into the society, fun mischievous, witchy look.
BB: Yeah. Very cool. I love that you're pulling Madam Mim too, because it's not something that-
CG: I know. Nothing but the most current references here.
BB: No. But, I mean, isn't that where a lot of the creativity comes from, pulling from things that aren't as popular in the-
CG: Yeah, no, I love… I think that's definitely one of my all time favorite Disney moments. And it's just the explosion of creativity, which is sort of the whole creative process.
BB: Yeah. Oh, well, thank you, Christine, so much for joining me to talk about fashion and Her Universe and your Scarlet Witch outfit. Really appreciate you taking the time.
CG: Thank you. This was so much fun. I love being able to talk about it and share it.
BB: Yeah. And hopefully, we'll get to see more of your designs very soon.
CG: I know. Maybe a Mad Madam Mim one, who knows.
BB: Yes. And we'll be like, "We heard it first."
CG: I know. I'll submit this next year. I'll be like, "Here's my idea."
BB: All right. Thank you. Thanks everybody.
You can find more of Christine’s fashion designs and artwork on her Instagram at geigeruppercut_art.