The Visitors - A Holiday Fashion Collection
Charles Dickens’ classic Victorian period story "A Christmas Carol" is a haunting, cautionary tale of transformation and redemption for a better future, and is a tradition of storytelling amongst friends and family. The Ghosts presented in the story each represent the Past, Present and Future and bring to them a unique design and influence. Using high-quality materials from JOANN Fabrics and Crafts, I sought to bring to life the visual storytelling through gorgeous diverse costumes and editorial photography by With An H Media and the location of Hunter House Victorian Museum in Norfolk, Virginia. "The Visitors" collection captures the essence of imaginative traditional storytelling of Dickens' 1800's and celebrates the diverse heritage of my models, including cultural silhouettes, colors and textures inspired by Italy, Africa and Korea.
The Ghost of Christmas Past
"Light flashed up in the room upon the instant, and standing before Scrooge stood a strange figure, soft and gentle. Its robes and gown seem to flutter in the night air. The spirit is delicate and glowing..."
Designer notes: The Ghost of Christmas Past is inspired by the Feast of Saint Lucia. Also known as St. Lucy's Day, she is celebrated in Italy and throughout Scandinavia on December 13. Saint Lucia would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means 'light' and celebrates my model's Sicilian heritage, where Saint Lucia died. My design inspiration is candle wax, lace and gold, leaning into our gilded memories of the past, the shadows of what have been.
The Ghost of Christmas Present
"When the bell struck One, a strange voice called Scrooge by his name. There sat a jolly Giant, glorious to see. 'Come in!' exclaimed the Ghost. 'Come in! and know me better, man! I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,” said the Spirit. 'Look upon me!' As Scrooge touched the Spirit's robe, they went on, invisible, into the suburbs of the town."
Designer notes: The Ghost of Christmas Present is inspired by mantles and cultural dress of African royalty, honoring my model's diverse Pan African diaspora heritage. This design features 12 yards of faux fur. Research suggests a present day movement to adopt the use of faux fur in cultural practice to protect leopards.
The Ghost of Christmas Future
"The bell struck Twelve. Lifting up his eyes, Scrooge beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him. The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently, approached. When it came near him, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. "Ghost of the Future!” he exclaimed, “I fear you more than any spectre I have seen." It thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror, to know that behind the dusky shroud, there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while he, though he stretched his own to the utmost, could see nothing but one great heap of black."
Designer Notes: The Ghost of Christmas Future is inspired by my model's Korean heritage and the Joseon dynasty which overlaps with the Victorian period. Research went into the historic design of the hanbok, including the chima, jeogori, goreum and norigae, I constructed the jeonmo hat frame from wood and the neoul veil from lace and sheer black silk to give the dark mysterious essence. Finally, I constructed the gache in the eoyeo meori style using multiple hairpieces and adorned with tteoljam.
“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me."
Thank you for joining me on this mini-collection holiday visual storytelling, with many thanks to @hunterhousemuseum1894 for their beautiful setting, to @withanhmedia for gorgeous photos as always, to our wonderful group of models and production assistants, and to collaborator @joann_stores
A mini-collection and visual storytelling inspired by Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" in collaboration with @joann_stores Handmade Holidays
Designer: Philip Odango
Editorial Photography: With an H Media @withanhmedia
Production Assistant: T. Rhodes
Production Assistant: K. Stevens
Ghost of Christmas Past: D. Roy
Ghost of Christmas Present: M. Poder
Ghost of Christmas Future: T. Kim
Photographed at Hunter House Victorian Museum @hunterhousemuseum1894
Wig materials @manhattanbeauty101
Sewn with Singer Sewing Company @singersewingcompany
Available from JOANN
About the Designer - Philip Odango
Philip's love of artistry and crafting first cultivated with directing theatre. Expanding upon his technical skills, he parlayed his love of spectacle and visual storytelling into sewing, quickly gaining attention in the cosplay world. After crafting his first cosplay of Edward Scissorhands out of garbage bags and pizza boxes, Philip has designed and displayed numerous costumes across the world. His "cosplay your way" approach to cosplay is inspired by diverse and vibrant creators, ideas and communities he has met all over the globe. Philip curates his creations to reflect those journeys and demonstrates that cosplay is, above all else, a personal reflection of one's creative self-expression.
With a keen eye for style and craftsmanship, Philip has established himself as both a tastemaker and influencer continually inspiring those around him through various partnerships, television series, and branded collaborations. An award-winning crafter for needlework and special effects, he has taught workshops and panels at conventions, universities and makerspaces worldwide. He has been featured by Threads Magazine, Sew Daily, Forbes, Business Insider, GQ, MARVEL, Disney, The New York Times and SYFY. Since 2017, Philip has served as a global ambassador for SINGER™ Sewing Company, and founded the "Bros Who Sew" campaign to encourage the craft of sewing. Brand collaborations include FISKARS™ Crafts, VELCRO™ Brand, IKEA, Plaid Crafts, Mehron, Kryolan Professional Makeup, Cosplay Fabrics and JOANN Stores.
Philip owns a creative consultancy and leans into 15 years of marketing, theatre, event production and community engagement experience to write the Cosplay Professional Development Series of books. He completed Harvard Business School's Sustainable Business Strategy program, has certifications in inclusion and diversity and is a grant panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts.