Friday, October 28, 2011


Come on out to HIGHBALL for the most fashionable fun you'll have all year!
The Ice Princess is ready, are you?
Style courtesy of Wendy Goldstein, Costume Specialties & Tim Mauer of Mukha Cosmetics.

Thanks for checking out all the great stories on our blog over the last few weeks.  Huge thanks to Sheree Greco of IM Creative, Maria Galloway, Gina Valentine, Liz Martino, Nicki Smith, Courtney Winnen, and all of the folks at the Short North Arts District who helped make our vision of HighBall a REALITY!

See you tonight to witness transformations - WHO WILL YOU BE?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Man Who Dressed the Tarantula

Jonathen Kinney of Columbus Airbrush will be the artist responsible for the look our eight-foot, eight-legged friend Stella the Spider will be wearing at HighBall.  Check out this chat to hear a little more about this artist and his airbrush skills.

What exactly does your studio do?

We specialize in air brushing. We will customize anything brought into us. We’ve done murals, body art shows, costume retouching. We’ve done a few motorcycles but not much automotive stuff. We mostly do a lot of shirts and apparel.

It sounds like you really keep busy. Where else might we see your work?

Everywhere! There are murals all over and some bikes around town. We work with Mascot Organization to do some of the local mascots. We have worked with Budweiser, Columbus Dog Connection, and Broadview Bloodbath, a haunted house in, connection with Midwest Honors Connection.

How did you first get involved in the arts?

I’ve been involved in art my entire life and airbrushing for fifteen years now. I saw someone do it when I was sixteen, and I said “That is what I want to do.” Its important to do what you want for a living.

Agreed. What is your favorite project that you have worked on?

My favorite is probably a personal project of mine. I made a seven foot six Transformer costume. I won the WNCI costume contest a few years ago and a few other competitions. It was just cardboard and duct tape that I air brushed. I’m thinking of bringing it back out for HighBall.

That would be amazing! How did you get involved with the HighBall tarantula?

Broadview Bloodbath got me in touch with it. Robin Walters called saying they were looking for someone to paint this giant spider and I made arrangements with MaryEllen from HighBall. It sounded interesting, even though I’m pretty afraid of spiders. I just thought it sounded great to paint a spider the size of a truck. 

Do you have a favorite scary movie or monster?

Umm, probably Paranormal Activity. I just saw the third and it was pretty good.

What are you most looking forward to at HighBall?

 Oh, all the unique costumes. Some people spend so much time and effort. It really shows what a person can do.

What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Giving out candy to the kids. I really enjoy it. I like the Reese’s cups but can't eat them because I will get too fat.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Man Behind the Monsters: Tommy Pietch

This year's HighBall theme of TRANSFORMATIONS has sparked an amazing collaboration between Columbus' BALLET MET and renowned make-up artist Tommy Pietch of ELEPHANTOM Make-up & Effects.

Pietch & his team will transform dancers from BalletMet into couture versions of classic Hollywood Monsters, right before your eyes.  But this isn't your Momma's make-up.  Take a look at some of these photos of Pietch's work to get a sense of what makes this artist a monster in the make-up world.

HighBall Performances include Zombies, Transvestites, and Demons, OH MY!

This year’s HighBall Halloween will be full of theatrical fun as many of Columbus’ best theatre companies will be giving “spooktacular” performances.
            Short North Stage, CATCO, Olympic Theatre and Imagine Productions all will participating in this year’s celebration. All 4 companies will be taking the stage throughout the night doing numbers from their current productions, many Halloween themed.

Short North Stage will be kicking off the night at 8 p.m. with a performance from their production of Steven Sondheim’s Follies, the inaugural musical at the reopened Garden Theatre.

“Our group will performing the opening number from Follies, ‘Beautiful Girls.’ It will be a way to introduce our showgirls,” said Rick Gore, co-founder of the Short North Stage and Follies producer.

The company from the Olympic Theatre, Columbus’ “boldest, hottest, bar theatre,” will take the stage soon after, at 9 p.m., to perform pieces from their production of Zombie Prom.

“We have been on the design team for the giant puppets and will be acting as the puppeteers for the evening. Our company will also be performing on the main stage a medley from Zombie Prom to showcase the diversity, strength, talent and creativity of our company,” Decker added.

“Our company's performance involvement is two fold,” said Todd Decker, a co-founder of the group.

Next on the theatre schedule is CATCO, taking the stage to do a number from their current production of Evil Dead- the Musical, a show all about college students who unleash an evil demon and the trusty hero that saves them from its wrath.

“Becoming a part of the celebration feeds our company’s desire to push our own limits,” Anderson mentions, regarding his company’s involvement with this year’s HighBall celebration.

 “In the spirit of Halloween we will be performing ‘Do the Necronomicon’ from Evil Dead- the Musical,” said Steven Anderson, Artistic Director of CATCO.

Finally, the very last performance of the night will take place at midnight when Imagine Productions fuels the Halloween spirit with a performance from The Rocky Horror Show. The performance is sure to feed HighBall goers fix for Rocky Horror, a Halloween tradition for many.

For all of these groups, there is a sense of excitement for being able to perform at HighBall Halloween, such a great, new tradition for Columbus.

“HighBall is a paradigm for community involvement,” says Decker. “It is an example of what can be done when a group of people stretch their boundaries by asking themselves ‘What if?’ Columbus in general and the Short North in particular are creative hubs. HighBall draws bold attention to who we are as a city.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Designer Q&A: Aaron James

The HighBall runway this year is going to be overflowing with talent from our area's designers!  Among those featured will be Aaron James of Ruby Hill.  Check out this chat we had with him to get a preview of what to expect from his looks this Friday!

How did you get into the world of fashion?

I used to be in theatre. I was a professional dancer. I segued into fashion. I moved to New York and worked for Macy’s doing window displays, and I never looked back.

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

It’s glamour, but it’s an accessible glamour. Ordinary women can wear it, but it definitely has an over the top feel without being too much.

What are you using as inspiration for the work you’ll be showing at HighBall?

I was telling a friend, it’s glamazon alien. It’s about these glamorous alien women who were too glamorous for their own planet so they came down to earth to party it up with us.

What are some of your major design influences?

Karl Lagerfeld. Chanel. Donna Karan because I love how simple her lines are.  That’s how I mix the simple lines with the sparkle and all that.

Who are you wearing RIGHT NOW?

You weren’t supposed to ask me that! Addias track pants, an old beat up red shirt and an H&M cardigan.

If you could design an outfit for a celebrity to wear on the red carpet who would you want to dress and why?

Sarah Jessica Parker. She loves to take risks. She could wear anything and look amazing. Clearly, she wouldn’t be afraid of the glam side.

Where do you see yourself and your career in five years?

I’m hoping to move back to New York. I want to go back and forth between Columbus and New York. I want to open up a boutique in Columbus, and bring big city style to this city.

What do you think separates a costume from regular clothing?

In my opinion, costumes are acceptable everyday. Clothing makes you feel good. If you feel good dressing up as say a galactic, glamorous alien, do it.

What’s the best way for fans of your work to keep tabs on you or even purchase some of
your pieces?

Facebook. Type in Ruby Hill by Aaron James, and it’ll take you directly to my page. All the contact info, like email and phone number, is there.

Be at HighBall on Friday, October 28th to see for yourself what a Glamazon Alien looks like.  See you there!

Short North Fashion Find: BRIGADE

BRIGADE is one of the hottest fashion trendsetters in Columbus, and we're thrilled they'll be taking part in this year's HighBall.  Check out our conversation with Larry from Brigade to learn more...

Photo by Dewey Moore
What made you want to be involved in HighBall this year?

HighBall shines a spotlight on the Shorth North, its blossoming arts culture, and the boutiques, galleries and local artists that comprise that creative collective. 
Why do you think so many fashion artists call Columbus home? 

Columbus is a progressive city that is receptive to change and embraces artistic expression. There is still an emerging art and fashion scene that has yet to truly be defined and this leaves a great opportunity for artist  and designers to contribute to that foundation.

How would you describe the design aesthetic of the looks you’ll be sending down the

Transformative, in line with this years HighBall Halloween theme.

Who is your favorite designer? 

Ha! How could anyone have a favorite when there are so many creative juggernauts out there? All jokes aside, it may sound cliche but Alexander McQueen was the dude, Galliano for his showmanship, Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga, Paul Smith, Vivian Westwood, Betsy Johnson, Rick Owens, Gianfranco Ferre, Marcus and David for Rag and Bone .... 

What is your favorite Halloween candy, and why? 

Candy corn because it reminds me of my grandmother. I think she had it in her house all year round.

What kinds of items can people find at your shop that they might not get to see on the

Versatile pieces that they can build a wardrobe around and enjoy for years to come.  

How would you describe Columbus style?

In general pretty casual but at times surprisingly fun. I've seen everything you can imagine on High St.

To see Brigade's looks on the runway, be at HighBall on Friday October 28th!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Electric Looks: Sharon Stewart will turn you on at HighBall!

We sat down to interview Sharon Stewart. Sharon is creating one grand look to open the show, and you will NOT want to miss it. This outfit is extremely large scale and time consuming but Sharon graciously took a little break to chat with us.  Read on!

Photo by Kaylee Davis 

How did you first get into fashion?

My mom is seamstress. When I was little I would spend hours looking at pattern books and in stores with her. She really helped me expand on ideas. As an adult in Colorado, I started my own alternation business and within a year, I managed the costume shop for Western State College in Dennison, CO. From there it kind of took off. I definitely consider myself a costume designer, not fashion. I don’t really do any ready-to-wear.

How would you describe your overall design aesthetic?

I prefer theater costuming so it stems from the character I am designing for and the intended portrayal to audience. It is not about aesthetic but more about communication. I like to observe staging and the director before I work on a costume. I usually start with a color palette then prioritize the work by what costumes are seen the most and work down from there. I work on everything as a collection and keep referring back to what I have done and making additions. It is never just one outfit at a time when it comes to designing for a production.

What is your inspiration for the piece you will be featuring at HighBall?

I took 2 words that are themes for HighBall this year, “transformation” and “glow,” and let my imagination run. My general inspiration came from those words. There will be a performance aspect and the concept is about where we are as humans, where we are headed, and who we are going to become. I’m a self-professed Sci-Fi nerd. This is definitely the most time I have allotted for one costume and it is the biggest scale I’ve done.

Who or what are your major design influences?

Electronics are big a influence. My husband does work in robotics and that is why we moved here. This costume has some of that but I’m not giving everything away. It will still be a surprise at Highball. He has really helped me with this creation though and we will both be on stage to help reveal it. I will say the head piece is so grand that it probably weighs forty pounds. My husband built a metal “ribcage” support structure that sits on the models waist to disperse the weight but we will still need to assist her with the transformation.

Wow, I can’t wait for the unveiling. Now tell me, who are you wearing right now?

Oh, I’m a thrift store nerd. I like the idea that things don’t need to end when someone is done with them. I made a pact with myself that as much as possible, I’m only going to shop from thrift stores this year for “designer wear.”

That is really great. We love the vintage look. So, if you could design a costume for any movie, who would it be and why?

I would love to work on a movie that is about the connection between the current reality of technology and where it is going and a prediction of where the Sci-Fi genre thinks it could go. I would love to costume the show Firefly in more techy way than the current western/steampunk look. I would want to combine steam punk and futuristic, electronic elements.

Where do you see yourself and your career in five years?

I’m involved with Short North Stage so I would love to see that taking off and I would start costuming large scale productions for them. I did the costumes for Follies, which was so perfect for that building. I got to think about what would be visually striking for that great space. I’d like to travel as well but I don’t dream of making it huge and working on Broadway or anything. I like being the one to actually create everything, not just dream it up and hand it off to someone else for all of the construction. Plus it is so time consuming. I’d hate to be away on work that long.

What do you think separates costume from regular clothing?

Costume tells a full story. Ready-to-wear can be beautiful but it doesn’t tell story. Costuming may not necessarily be beautiful, but it becomes beautiful through the story. It tells about the character: who they are, where they came from, what weather is like, everything. It is like the complete picture and it is specific to one person and their moment in time.

What is the best way for fans of your work to keep tabs on you or make a purchase?

Umm,  haha. I will go home and start a facebook fan page right now. I’ve always been kind of a behind-the-scenes type and not self-promoting. That’s why I like costuming. It kind of lets me work in the dark. I really struggled even with bio for Follies.

Sharon’s new facebook page is called The Red Thread and can be found at!/pages/The-Red-Thread/  Come see her and all the rest of the talent we are showcasing at Highball Halloween!

Designer Q&A: Kelli Martin

We caught up with Designer, HighBall Alumnus, and former Project Runway contestant Kelli Martin to talk about her design aesthetic, and what we can expect from her return to this year's event on the runway.  Dish!

Photo: Anti.Label
Photog: James Hayden
Model: Mandalynn Rea

How did you get into the world of fashion?

It probably started with Cyndi Lauper…from when I was 7-years-old. My grandparents raised me and let me dress how I wanted and paint my nails black and basically let me dress up like a little Cyndi Lauper. That’s really how it all started…My dad would let me put makeup on him and put ponytails in his hair.  It was so much fun. 

How would you describe your design aesthetic? 

Pretty ugly..that’s really the best description. I use a lot of contrast.  The name of my line, Anti-Label…it is kind of a contradiction in itself. When I started I was 19 and I moved to LA. With my line, I wanted to poke fun at the whole fashion world.  Of course it is still couture, its just higher end looking street style…I have feminine silhouettes but with an edge…ruffles with raw edges, silks that are tattered and died. I know that’s kind of the thing now but its what I’ve been doing for 10 years now.

What are you using as inspiration for the work you’ll be showing at HighBall?

I guess my inspiration is the transformation of fashion through time. That’s how I interpreted transformation. My HighBall final look will be the blending of all tribes, if you will. Kind of a combination of my three looks of fashion over time combined into this futuristic piece.  Its going to be vintage, mixed with couture, mixed with modern, and futuristic if that makes sense. I’m just trying to stick to what I do and stick to the couture Halloween costume.


What are some of your major design influences? 

Definitely music…That’s definitely one of the things. A lot of musicians from the 50’s through the 80’s, a lot of it is probably from the late 70’s punk scene.  London and New York. In the beginning, Vivianne Westwood was my major influence. You know, she started that whole style with the sex shop and everything. I don’t really have a designer that I strive to be like because I’m a little bit A.D.D. and really strive to be different. I guess right now I am on a little Rodarte kick. I like their use of textures. The street is a major influence.  People-watching is so fun…you know, I moved to LA and people there are crazy, but lunatics are everywhere here.

Who are you wearing RIGHT NOW? 

Haha. Some weird designer….lets see, Karen Millan from England. I don’t know what it is I just found it at Plato’s Closet and totally loved it and had to have it, this t-shirt is Old Navy, jeans are from a thrift store, boots might be from Target.  I haven’t worn any of my own stuff lately because everything I make I sell…back in the day everything I wore was garter belts and fishnets and piled on and crazy but that was another time and place! 

If you could design an outfit for a celebrity to wear on the red carpet who would you want
to dress and why? 

Ok I have an embarrassing one: Kristen Stewart…I’m a secret Twilight fan. I know she’s still young but she seems like she has a level head. Like, she doesn’t take shit and doesn’t give a shit and that’s a true rebellious attitude and I like that about her.
Dream Woman/Wife : Charlize Theron: shes statuesque and beautiful and I would love to design a beautiful garment for her
True Ultimate Dream: Cindy Lauper. She is the epitome of fashion to me, way above Madonna. She sold herself with fashion and music and not sex and that’s awesome.

Where do you see yourself and your career in five years? 

Um really I guess doing what I’m doing now. I’m basically doing what I’ve wanted to do my whole life. I chose to live in Columbus. I enjoy the people, the awesome house with little overhead, its so much more laid back and that’s how I am. LA really is what people think it is if you’re in the fashion industry.  I like it here. I really want to be a part of the community because I plan on staying here. Right now I need to regain my online presence because doing the whole stupid reality television thing with Project Runway, I lost my online presence for a few years.  I lost a lot of my customers. You know, they grew up, their tastes changed.  But this is what I want to do.  I can sew in my pajamas and be with my cats all day. I’m busy but I wouldn’t have it any other way…at least its on my terms.

What do you think separates a costume from regular clothing? 

I feel like there’s definitely a fine line. Couture fashion is different than ready-to-wear. Some ready-to-wear fashion is insane today. The fine line is usually fabrication, and the expensive quality look. You know, it can be gaudy and over-the-top as a ready-to-wear garment if it goes into a theme….if its not a replica of something that is a costume. You could easily have two ideas next to each costume and one ready-to-wear.  For the ready-to-wear, you need to keep it true to itself without watering it down but know what elements to pick and choose while still making it wearable to the usual person.

What’s the best way for fans of your work to keep tabs on you or even purchase some of
your pieces?

Facebook and my website would probably be the best. I sell on etsy too but I’m trying to rebuild the website and get people going there, not just take the easy route. I also list on ebay random stuff here and there. I’m all over the place. I’m trying to be.  

To see Kelli's work at the live runway show, be sure to be at HighBall on Friday the 28th!