Meet the Campy Designer Costuming Chicago Nightlife
Story by Justin Moran / Photography by Alexa Viscius
31 October 2018
Eda Yorulmazoğlu doesn't approach her craft like most. Creating larger-than-life pieces that defy the laws of gravity and stretch our everyday understanding of reality, the Chicago-based designer births characters more than anything. This practice, stemming from a campy, youthful point-of-view, has helped Yorulmazoğlu garner a devoted queer following — especially in the Chicago LGBTQ nightlife circuit, where artists like Lucy Stoole, Naomi Smalls, and Imp Queen have frequently worn her out. Though her design sensibility extends beyond Halloween, we used today's costumey holiday as an opportunity to ask Yorulmazoğlu some questions and photograph eight nightlife personalities in her over-the-top looks. Discover it all, below.
How does camp/costume influence the way you approach design?
It influences me to go as crazy as I want. When people label my garments as costumes, it takes away expectations on how wearable they should be. Even though I think as long as you can put it on, the garment is wearable enough for a daily trip to the grocery store or going to the office. Seeing my garments as campy/costume makes me feel like I can fly under the radar of what is expected in the fashion industry, and allows me to create whatever I want. It also relaxes myself and puts less stress on me to fit in. When you design, at least for me, your mind has to be free. When I design, I have no expectations to make that garment many of times, so that allows me to to go wild, be as campy as I want and go against gravity.
Related | Uglyworldwide's Trail of Terror
You've become a staple with the queer queen circuit. Do you have them in mind when designing?
If I am not doing a commission for a queen, I design directly from my own imagination, feelings, and thoughts that I've been wanting to birth out to live in our world. My ideas can come at anytime. Sometimes when I'm walking, talking to friends, dreaming even, I will see a hazy silhouette in the back of my mind moving around,and the more I think about it, the creature will come forward and expose its self more and more.
When I design for a queen specifically, they are always in my mind. Whenever I have worked with someone they always give me a small specification of what they might want. Sometimes it's one word or a short sentence like, " Red," "I'm scared of Spiders," "Coat," or, "I need to be able to twerk," and so on. Rarely had I worked with someone who told me exactly what they wanted. I think I have been lucky that way because so far everyone has trusted me with designing for them. So after I get my small description, I start thinking about what creature that queen is. How they move and how they present themselves. The main objective is how to make the wearer shine as much as possible and having the garment as a supporter into becoming a creature.
Eda Yorulmazoğlu with her designs.
Why do you think you have such a close relationship to the queer community?
I think our relationships have become close because there is a huge trust built in. Like as a previously said, people rarely tell me exactly what they want and trust in what I make. As a designer, I was told before that I was doing the wrong things, might not ever find a job, and that the only way to survive is to move to New York and work for someone else. So coming into this queer community and finding supporters of my work with no adjustments in how I want to make things is a really special gift for me. I feel free, and I sense those feelings transcend into my work, and make the wearers dig deep into themselves and let go.
How do you define your aesthetic as a designer?
I was told in the past by someone who I truly loved, "Don't take life too seriously, just seriously enough to get by." I want to be free when I design and not be trapped on what society considers 'in fashion' for that season. I want to create things that would usually be considered ugly, but take away the rules so people don't take it all so seriously and can just appreciate the garment for what it is. I want to turn the world into a playground for my creatures, and give everyone a safe space to just let go, be free, and crawl around. Its a whole different experience when a big group wears my garments and it completely changes the energy of those around us. It's amazing to see children look at the creatures and see them as real living critters. It is even better when adults look at the garments and smile and jump around with them while they relive what it's like to be a child and escape their stresses. For myself, I want to keep my child side alive always. I think making garments the way I do will accomplish that, and also help others as well. I have had people come up to me crying, and thanking me for opening up the doors to their imagination again. It's not just a style the defines my aesthetic, but also they way it makes people feel.
In what ways do you think costume intersects with everyday style?
I think the term "costume" is an opinion, and there's nothing wrong with that word at all. It is up to the wearer to describe what they are putting on their body and what they are comfortable with. In my world, my garments would be worn daily. A Little Critter with 3 1/2 arms and 2 legs with toes as leg hair would get up every morning, and put on its shiny, lumpy coat that drips with gut juice while reflecting the morning sunshine onto the walls. The Little Critter eats its delicious giggly breakfast right before putting on its shoes that are tiny cars. VROOM VROOM! Then Little Critter is off to work, surrounded by people with regular' jackets, pants, and shoes. The Little Critter sticks out for sure, but is it a costume or daily wear? Does it matter?
Below, eight Chicago-based nightlife stars and drag queens model Eda Yorulmazoğlu, and tell us about their Halloween favorites.
Favorite Halloween Cocktail: An ooky spooky vodka cran.
Favorite Halloween Anthem: "Halloween" by Aqua
Favorite Halloween Costume: One day I'd love to be Greta Gremlin from Gremlins 2.
Favorite Halloween Cocktail: Whiskey spiked cider and the blood of twinks.
Favorite Halloween Anthem: "Close Your Eyes" by Kim Petras. That entire EP is such a ooky-kooky mood, and a pleasant departure from her initial music.
Favorite Halloween Costume: My favorite Halloween costume I've done was my first ever Halloween in 2012. I was so excited, it was freshman year of college, and I wanted the perfect balance of campy and sexy — so I was a naked Sim. My favorite Halloween costume that I've seen this year has to be T Rex's drag version of Coach Steve from Big Mouth.
Favorite Halloween Cocktail: Probably an icy, bone-chilling Moscow mule.
Favorite Halloween Anthem: I'm currently blasting "Close Your Eyes" by Kim Petras all day every day.
Favorite Halloween Costume: I'll either be a she-demon or Bubbles from Powerpuff Girls. No in-between.
Favorite Halloween Cocktail: BOOberry juice.
Favorite Halloween Anthem: "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker
Favorite Halloween Costume: babies dressed as chickens.
Favorite Halloween Cocktail: Pumpkin Colada.
Favorite Halloween Anthem: "I Want to be Evil" by Eartha Kitt
Favorite Halloween Costume: The one I'm wearing, duh.
Favorite Halloween Cocktail: Devil's Blood.
Favorite Halloween Anthem: The iconic "I Put A Spell on You" and/or "Spooky Scary Skeletons."
Favorite Halloween Costume: An Alien because you can make whatever look you want and let your mind soar with crazy ideas.
Favorite Halloween Cocktail: Strawberry soda pop.
Favorite Halloween Anthem: "Sally's Song" [from The Nightmare Before Christmas].
Favorite Halloween Costume: Lady bug.
Favorite Halloween Cocktail: Apple Cider.
Favorite Halloween Anthem: "Zombie" by The Cranberries.
Favorite Halloween Costume: Sheet Ghost.
Photography: Alexa Viscius
Fashion: Eda Yorulmazoğlu