Geek Couture

Posted: August 3rd, 2018 | Fashion Files, Featured | No Comments

By Diana Cavagnaro | Fashion Files

The 5th annual Her Universe fashion show took place on July 19 at the Manchester Hyatt Hotel. Twenty-four aspiring designers are picked to design an outfit inspired by one of their Comic-Con heroes. Think “Project Runway” for Comic-Con. DJ Amanda Jones spun the tunes for the evening. Emmy Award-winning consumer tech expert Katie Lindendoll was on hand with Zenni eyewear for everyone.

The host and creator of Her Universe is Ashley Eckstein who is known as Ahsoka Tano on “Star Wars.” Eckstein came out on the runway with a dress that was made up of 500 Funko Pop! Heads. They weighed a total of 40 pounds. This was to honor the 25th anniversary of Tim Burton’s 1993 “The Nightmare Before Christmas” film. Andrew MacLaine, who was the 2013 Her Universe Fashion Show winner, designed this amazing gown for Miss Eckstein.

Group shot of winners (Photo by Diana Cavagnaro)

Cast members Matt Lanter and Dee Bradley Baker made an appearance to help celebrate the return of “Star Wars: Clone Wars.” Eckstein recently launched a new “Clone Wars” line for Her Universe. The biggest surprise of the evening was a visit from Jodie Whittaker, the 13th titular character from “Doctor Who.” She modeled the new “Doctor Who” line for Her Universe.

Singer Sewing Company Winner: Jane Burson  (Photo by Diana Cavagnaro)

This year, three awards were given out. The first was the Judge’s Winner who was Cynthia Kirkland for her design inspired by Guillermo del Toro’s Academy Award-winning film “The Shape of Water.” The second was by Singer Sewing Company, which handed out an award to Jane Burson. This creation was inspired by 2012 animated film “Howl’s Moving Castle.” The audience was given a chance to vote for the third winner, who was Kristi Siedow-Thomas. She created an awesome design inspired by Ripley in the power loader machine from “Aliens.”

Judge’s Winner: Cynthia Kirkland (Photo by Diana Cavagnaro)

Each one of these winners will pair up with Eckstein, Her Universe, and Loungefly to create a Marvel’s Avengers 4 Collection exclusively for Hot Topic. In addition there was a Junior Designer Showcase, which picked four junior designers to design a Powerpuff Collection at BoxLunch in celebration of its 20th anniversary. Stay tuned for updates at

Audience Winner: Kristi Siedow-Thomas (Photo by Diana Cavagnaro)

Away They Go

The 81st Opening Day at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club opened on July 18 to a crowd of 33,112. Opening Day is always considered a day to be “dressed to the nines” topped off with an impressive hat. Every year they have a fabulous hat contest. This year, the 24th Annual Opening Day Hats Contests had more than 300 contestants with $6,000 in cash and prizes. Leslie Monroy took home the Grand Prize with an oversized floral bouquet hat with large, handmade lace horse heads.

Jodie Whittaker and Ashley Eckstein (Photo by Diana Cavagnaro)

Julia Moehrke of Carlsbad won the category for Best Flowers with a coordinating red dress and floral arrangement. Aubrey Fohl of Dana Point won the category of Best Fascinator with a black spiked-feather fascinator. Sara Holbrook of San Diego won the category of Most Glamorous with a cream-colored outfit and matching hat. Lori Shelton of San Diego won the category of Best Racing Theme with a Triple Crown trophy.

Lupe Ahern models hat made by Downtown businessmen, Fritz Ahern (Photo by Diana Cavagnaro)

There were many cool and unusual hats at Opening Day. One was a cap with living succulents by Carlee Campbell. Last year’s winner, Christina Stutz made a hat with big lips that was blowing bubble gum. One of my favorite hats was one made by longtime Downtown businessman, Fritz Ahern. The hat was made of oak veneer with butterflies that rotated at the top.

The Summer Meet runs through Sept. 3 and is dark on Mondays (except Labor Day) and Tuesdays. Look for the Bing Crosby Season opening on Nov. 9 and running through Dec. 2. For more information, visit

Upcoming Events

  • Thursday, Sept. 6 – Workshop/Intellectual Property featuring Knobbe Martens at Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising San Diego from 5:30-7 p.m. presented by FAB Authority and Fashion Week San Diego. Event is located at 350 10th Ave., third floor.
  • Sunday, Sept. 16 – Fall Bridal Bazaar with three fashion shows by Gretchen Productions at the San Diego Convention Center. For more information, call 760-334-5500.

—Diana Cavagnaro is an internationally renowned couture milliner based in the Historic Gaslamp Quarter. Learn more about our hat designer, teacher and blogger at

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