Chad Evett, Mad Hatter Cosplay Master at SDCC 2022
To all my Wonderland fans enjoying a trip down the rabbit hole of San Diego Comic-Con, be sure to keep an eye out for the cosplay king and Master Hatter (not to mention my friend and Wonderverse collaborator) Chad Evett. My understanding is that he will be dressed as Doctor Strange today.
Chad will be participating as a pro costume designer in several panels on Friday and Saturday at the convention center. However, on the final day I know he will be cutting loose as the Mad Hatter, and will be joined by his glorious gang The League of Hatters. You will all be happy to know our very own Hatter Madigan will be among their ranks—and I absolutely cannot wait for the pictures to start popping up!
To help pass the time—take a look at this conversation I had with Chad about his amazing cosplay craft.
Q: Frank Beddor
What is Cosplay?
A: Chad Evett
Cosplay is a slang term for the phrase ''Costume Play,'' which is the art of dressing up in costumes and going out into the world. This can mean you embody the character and act like them, or perhaps you just like dressing up.
There are cosplayers who make their own costumes, but this isn't necessarily a requirement. It’s all about going out and having fun.
How did you get into it?
I had always had a love of dressing up and playing about in costumes, who doesn't? Originally it was all about Harry Potter, dressing up and going to the movies or the book releases. From there, it sort of spilled over into any movie or event---let’s dress up, it'll be more fun! (and more work!)
I ended up teaching myself to sew with the help of my mother (an award winning quilter) and the local seamstresses who did costumes for the various theater productions I was involved in. (incidentally, Hi Rebecca! Hi Barbara!)
How did you get into designing? Were you designing for cosplay or were you designing other things first?
It had always been costumes. Most of the plays I directed were original productions, so it was a necessity to imagine and then realize fully formed characters. I have a ton of original designs, but those I tend to keep secret. I've had ideas stolen before, so I usually only post my replica work online. (Replicas are a great way to learn new techniques) It was my replica work that got me out to California.
What's your background?
My background is predominantly in theater. I have been acting since I was a child, usually in local productions, and then when I got out of high school I started directing. I originally wanted to be a director, and by directing shows and organizing productions, I took on the role of scenic and costume designer.
I had always been interested in costumes, but I didn't know how to sew. By doing theater, especially the grandiose fantasy shows I was writing, I was sort of forced to learn this trade because the wonderful, WONDERFUL seamstresses working to build costumes for my shows sort of taught me as we went along. Then one thing led to another and before I knew it I was actively participating in cosplay. Which is a slippery slope!
How did you approach creating Whoopi Goldberg's character, The Queen of Clubs?
The Queen of Clubs came a little naturally to me---whereas Redd needed to be decadent and a little seedy, Clubs needed to be, in my opinion, classier and regal and refined. I always thought that she would approach her position with dignity, she may not be THE queen, but she is still a queen. So I looked at fabrics that felt royal and regal, but slightly subtle. Also, I felt that Redd would want to Rule the world, but Clubs would want to Explore. So all of her fabrics are eclectic and foreign, the main fabric is a Chinese brocade, that I laired under black crystal organza. Her robe is the same organza, and that ties the look together. ---
By using something like organza as well, the shimmery nature of the fabric aided in making the gown look regal. Also, the fabrics I chose catch the sun rather than reflect it, creating a ''glowing'' effect. All of the crystals and embroidery on the front were done by hand, and everything glass is actually Swarovski crystal. I did 4 different sketches before deciding on the look we did, simply because all of them didn't look quite right. She vaguely resembles a chess piece, thereby subconsciously reflecting the power struggle between Clubs and Redd.
My Mother inspired me. A woman who brings a sense of dignity to everything she does, and how, in my mind, that is the ideal queen. Someone with intuition who works from a sense of kindness and the greater good. So using that as a jumping off point I was able to dress the Ideal Matriarch.
Queen Redd was an audience favorite, how did you create the flesh-eating roses?
Those Roses! I found silk roses in downtown LA, and then crafted all of their Maws using a clay that turns slightly transparent when baked. That way the teeth looked natural and the gums looked shiny and fleshy.
Hatter Madigan revealed his top hat transformed into blades, was that a magic trick? Or…?
That hat was an antique silk top hat that was collapsible, and we re-skinned it to make it look like the blue caterpillar silk of the books. The Transforming Brim was crafted for us by Mr. Pinski Props, and all of the blades are etched with the various Royal Suits of Wonderland. It may not be a Magic Trick but it is definitely a Hat Trick!
Tell us about Warrior Alyss and your costume, Dodge Anders.
Dodge and Alyss need more on them----they are a prime example of how costumes tend to grow into being. You work on something and tweak it into existence. Alyss was done specifically to look simultaneously hardcore and Mellifluous. All of her fabrics are bridal fabrics, because they have body but can flow. Her color scheme is designed to reflect the ''glow'' of wonder: the power of imagination. Her buckles and fittings are gold, reflecting her royal nature.
Dodge is the regal captain of the guard, but we kept him specifically dark. His fittings were all done in silver, keeping him noble but one step below Alyss (Alice) on the hierarchy. Both of them will have more work done to prep them for further events, but I am really proud of how they are coming along!
Lastly, the shoes Whoopi was wearing on the show - those of her character - what is the story behind them?
I knew Whoopi was a fan of shoes, and I knew Whoopi was a fan of the Looking Glass Wars books. So when Frank revealed to me that Whoopi had contributed and become a character in the books, it made sense to combine the two. Her shoes are designed to be something the Queen of Clubs would wear, but realized on fabrics and textures that are regal and royal. They directly match the dress---the same fabrics, colors, and crystals.
I worked with American Duchess in Nevada to create them, they are French court shoes made in black brocade, and they were made specifically For Whoopi. Once I had them I did the handwork and glammed them up, and fitted them with Club shaped Cabochons and crystal work to create something sparkly and immaculate. The soles of the shoes are also stamped with the Looking Glass Wars Logo.
They just sparkle on screen, and I adore them. I want a pair for me! I had so much fun making them for Whoopi, and I hope to do more items for her in the future. The View is such a joyous program, and it makes so many people feel good, that it is an honor and a privilege to do items for those incredible ladies. They ARE royalty!