Lilli Barrett’s mother taught her to sew and knit at 5. She began designing and making doll clothes and proceeded to baby layettes. At 12, she started making clothes for her sister and herself. At 16, she was costuming high school plays and at 18 Community Theatre. She has a degree in History/ Fine Arts-Theatre and did her graduate work in Women’s Studies/History. She worked professionally as a costumer for several of the smaller contemporary dance companies and experimental theaters.
Kyla Benson is the Department Chair of the Fashion Program at Santa Ana College. She has recently revamped SAC’s fashion program with her industry connections from her tenure as a designer in L.A.’s and Orange County’s apparel industry. She has designed for large companies including Hurley, O’Neill, and Fox Racing. She has also started small businesses where her work has been seen in magazines including InStyle and US Weekly and worn by celebrities such as Drew Barrymore and Alicia Keys’ baby son.
Francis Classe has been costuming and making shoes for over fifteen years. He has studied raised heels extensively and is the author of “Chopine, Zoccolo, and Other Raised Heel Construction” (www.raisedheels.com). Although he specializes in the second half of the 16th Century, he is interested in all manner of costuming and shoemaking, both historical and fantasy. Francis is also the designer for Stratford, the Renaissance high heel offering by American Duchess.
Sahrye Cohen is the co-author of “Make It, Wear It: Wearable Electronics for Makers, Crafters, and Cosplayers”. She is a designer, costumer, and sewer who is interested in historical fashion, cosplay, and high-tech fashion. You can find her work online at www.makeitwearitbook.com and at her Tech Couture brand, www.ampedatelier.com.
Gina Cowley’s passion for sewing began with a box of her grandmother’s scraps and evolved from making doll clothes to making her own clothes and Cosplay costumes, to all things costuming. She studied Fashion and Costume Design at Fullerton College and Art History at UCI. After a long and circuitous path, she now designs and creates costumes for theater, ballet, dance, and skating and teaches costume design at the Orange County School of the Arts. Her specialties include working with stretch fabrics, tutu construction, rhinestone application, fabric embellishment, and fabric painting.
Jennifer Erlichman has been making costumes since her first Renaissance Faire in 1994. She serves as Musical Director for the Belladonna Historical Performers, is on the Board of Directors for the Guild of St. George – Northern Chapter and is a Director at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. She has been making costumes professionally since 2006, spanning the Renaissance through Victorian eras, and her specialty is bridging the gaps between historical accuracy, wearability, and comfort for today’s modern performers. Find her at http://www.rubyraven.com.
Danelle is the Volunteer and Education Program Manager at Heritage Square Museum, a living history museum in Los Angeles, an avid costume enthusiast, and lover of animals. Her favorite eras to costume are Late Victorian through the 1950s- especially the 1930s. She has been a part of CGW for 4 years and is currently serving on the board as Vice President. She enjoys bourbon, long walks on the beach, and Addams Family TV Show reruns.
Mary Gobet has over 45 years of antique clothing restoration and reproduction background with a specific focus on embellishments and historical purses. Owner of Beyond Mirays (pronounced my raise). She is the past president of the Portland Bead Society and has traveled to attend national & international cultural and costumed festivals and faires as a vendor, instructor, and a participant. To make things more interesting, she also is an owner of a Hot Air Balloon for over 25 years. Look for her at www.beyondmirays.com.
Tracey Gorin has been beading and crafting since she was a young girl but didn’t begin costuming until 2003. As a beginning seamstress, she found sewing a wonderful challenge, which allowed her to expand her creative repertoire and gave her so much inspiration! Tracey loves learning from others, finding new ways of doing things, and combining talents into new projects. In her non-costuming life, Tracey works as an Audio-Visual Engineer, and loves using technology to support learning and education in a variety of fields!
Lia Hansen has been involved in costume design for just over 40 years. Her favorite parts of the process are the research and hand crafts. She is currently the faculty designer at Vanguard University; this fall was the start of her 21st year.
You know that moment when you’ve found your “people” and you can’t shut up about all the neat things you make, the hundreds of things you plan to make, and the thousand things you will never make? That’s Maegen Hensley. Oh, and she has been the Sr. Director of Soft Goods Production for Anovos since 2015, was Costume College Dean in 2009 and 2019, and has been on the CoCo committee longer than her daughter has been alive.
Mela Hoyt-Heydon is a Union Costume Designer who retired from Chairman of the Theatre Arts Department, Fullerton College in 2016 after 38 years and opened a millinery shop in Fullerton, Atelier Mela (www.ateliermela.net).The business moved to Salem Oregon in 2020. Mela is a founding member of Costume College and it’s Dean twice, past President of CGW, a member of USITT, past board member for The Costume Society of America, a FIDM Fashion Council member, and has designed for TV, film, theater, industrials, cruise ships, theme parks, and music videos. Her MFA in design is from UC Irvine.
Mary Johns started working as a tour guide on a living history farm when she was 15, discovered one outfit wasn’t nearly enough, and promptly delved into 18th century clothing, learning and sewing as she went. She has since discovered that she loves teaching about all she has learned, while continuing to learn more!
Kevin Jones is curator of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Museum in Los Angeles. Kevin studied fashion design and art history before joining FIDM in 1999 and being appointed curator in 2002. Kevin’s expertise encompasses the 19th-20th centuries, with an emphasis on haute couture. In 2009, Kevin co-curated the Richard Martin Award-winning exhibition, catalogue, and documentary, High Style: Betsy Bloomingdale and the Haute Couture. In 2011, he co-curated the exhibition and catalogue FABULOUS! Ten Years of FIDM Museum Acquisitions, 2000-2010. And in 2021, his third catalogue, Sporting Fashion: Outdoor Girl 1800 to 1960, debuted before commencing a three-year, nation-wide tour.
Valarie LaBore has attended Costume College every year since 2003 but knew very little about historical sewing. She loved finding there were other people just as crazy as she was. She began teaching a few years ago and loves to share what she learns on her blog, Time Traveling in Costume. She also runs the Facebook group, “Historical Pattern Reviews 1700-1930”, is a member of CGW, San Diego Costume Guild, Orange County Costume Guild, is an honorary member of SITU, and a representative of the San Diego History Center. She was Dean of Costume College in 2018.
Arielle Lien is a self-taught costume designer and avid cosplayer (AirBubbles cosplay). She began her costume journey in college and since then, she has designed 7 theatrical productions, including “Chicago”. She has also built dozens of costumes for herself, winning 7 awards. Starting as a seamstress, she has shifted gears towards armor building, props, and electronics and wants to share her knowledge with as many people as possible. She can be found on twitch.tv/AirBubblesCosplay streaming cosplay and Magic the Gathering!
Sandy Manning has been involved with costuming since she was 15. She loves researching and sharing topics relevant to historical costuming. She has taught math in the Bush of Alaska for over 20 years.
Elizabeth McCrary started performing at the age of four and has never stopped. She has spent many happy years with various Renaissance faires, has worked at seven different museums and living history sites, and been costume designer for several youth and community theaters.
Natalie Meyer has been sewing since she was 5 years old. She started costuming when her nephew went through his various Superman periods and became interested in Historical Costuming when she became a docent at Heritage Square Museum in Los Angeles in 1993. Since then, she’s been dean of Costume College twice, taught sewing, produced historical fashion shows, and lectured on the history of the fashionable silhouette.
Rebecca Olds is an historical dressmaker and independent practice-based researcher, specialising in the study of women’s garments, underpinnings and millinery in England and Scotland in the late seventeenth through late eighteenth centuries. She applies her research and tests her understanding of period construction techniques through re-creation or re-construction of extant objects held in public and private collections. She is currently researching non-elite women’s dress in the Scottish Highlands during the second half of the eighteenth century.
Sherry Ramaila has been sewing all her life. To her, a day isn’t complete unless she’s done something creative. She’s a sewist, a quilter, a designer and the owner of Steamtorium on Etsy (http://www.steamtorium.etsy.com).
Carolyn Richardson has been a costumer making a wide variety of eras for over 30 years. She is active in the SCA and local historic dance groups, and docents at the Getty Center in her spare time. In real life, Carolyn has worked in the income tax and accounting field for over 35 years.
Coleen Scott is a Costume Designer with an MFA in Costume Design. She has worked for 20 years in theater, dance and opera. As a graduate student, Coleen worked in film with Academy Award winner Ann Roth. She taught Costume Production and Makeup at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, NY from 2005-2018. She authored The Pastie Project, a book documenting burlesque costume history focused on the pastie. Her latest book The Costumes of Burlesque focuses on burlesque costume history from 1866-2018. Coleen can be found at Santa Rosa Junior College as full-time faculty in Costume and Makeup.
Sarah Walsh, a school librarian by profession, has been sewing for about 25 years. She learned how to sew on her mother’s ancient Singer Featherweight and just about everything she made was done on the machine, from commercial patterns. In 2016, after having played Abigail Adams in the musical “1776,” she had the opportunity to begin doing living history as Abigail. At that point, she narrowed her focus and started learning historical dressmaking techniques, including draping and millinery, to create a full wardrobe suitable to the different stages in Abigail’s rather extraordinary life.
Ann Ware has been costuming for 15 years; from Elizabethan to 1940s. She loves to immerse herself in the details of costume! She has mastered embellishments from the knotting in the 18th century to braidwork. Teaching others these skills is enjoyable and exciting!
Lauren Yeager is an instructor at San Francisco School of Needlework and Design, founded in 2015 to preserve and advance the art of hand embroidery at all skill levels while honoring creative thought, promoting contemporary exploration, and preserving traditional methods. She is a textile artist with an interest preserving traditional garments & embroidery. She studied at the RSN in the UK, the Japanese Embroidery Center, and Ecole Lesage. She has a BFA in Fashion Design from Columbia College and has received multiple awards for construction and design in costume and in hand embroidery.
A self-styled “jewelry junkie,” Diane Yoshitomi has been collecting 19th and early 20th century jewelry for nearly 30 years, after learning the basics of that pursuit from noted author and jewelry historian Christie Romero. In those years she has acquired a respectable cache of handsome pieces, from early Victorian to Art Deco, and at prices ranging from downright steal to “I just HAD to have it!” In addition to the pleasure of owning these small historical treasures, she takes great delight in wearing them with her historical dresses to enhance their authenticity.