Zombies and ghouls will be roaming the streets of Petaluma in a few weeks, but Heidi Rose Wright knows there’s more to Halloween fun than blood, guts and gore. How about a bit of swashbuckling, or maybe stepping back in time to the Viking Age?
The local costume designer has everything revelers could imagine — and more — at her Petaluma Boulevard North costume rental shop, Custom Costumes. Wright transforms adults into pirates and princesses; wizards and warriors; saloon girls and wizards; vampires and voodoo; and much more, all accessorized to the smallest detail.
It has been in business since 1981 and in its current location for eight years. In all, she worked from 17 locations in Petaluma, Penngrove and Cotati. Even when she took a two-year break, customers found her.
His unique creations are more than costumes. They are vehicles for creating memories and having shameless fun, more important than ever in the age of COVID-19.
“I can be part of a company that’s always fun,” Wright, 63, said. “People make the funniest memories. It’s a party vibe here and I want to be excited about it.
Business almost came to a standstill in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic curtailed most gatherings. Last year things started to look up and the activities this Halloween season are expected to see a huge increase. As a safety measure, everything that “touches the body” is cleaned between rentals. Washer, dryer and steamer are on site and are used extensively.
Create a new world through costumes
Although custom costumes are a year-round business, Halloween is especially busy with parties, workplace costume contests, and revelers traveling to special events, bars, and wherever they can to introduce their alter egos.
Getting into a suit “is healing,” Wright said. “It’s magical and it reminds them of happier times and better times. They need it and we need each other. We have to socialize.
Joe Pelleriti remembers Halloween events in downtown Petaluma when he owned Maguire’s Irish Pub on Kentucky Street. He and his wife dressed their young daughter in an ice blue Cinderella outfit, while adorning themselves in ugly half-sister costumes created by Wright.
The bearded Pelleriti wore an oversized bow atop his wig, a choker necklace and a lace-trimmed ruffled floral dress.
“What a fun little shop with amazing people,” he said. “Good times.”
Not all of Wright’s customers have something in mind when they walk into her costume shop and workspace. Well-organized costume racks and accessory displays can be deceiving. Wright wants customers to see how an entire costume is put together, complete with hats, headpiece, shoes, sashes, sashes, jewelry, armor, and accessories — whatever is needed to finish the look.
“We spoil every person,” she said.
She and her staff guide customers through the showroom, gathering complete costumes so customers can get an accurate look at what they’re renting.
Each costume must be “complete, beautiful and finished” before going out.
“I like to mix all the parts and pieces together,” Wright said. “I just have a love for the arts. It’s like painting with props.
Unique outfits for parties, fairs
A fairy costume is pretty enough with an ethereal flowing dress, but add wings and it becomes magical. A panderer outfit should be decked out to perfection with a shimmering lycra and metallic jacket and pants, a long pink and black zebra-print overcoat, a white feather boa, a wide-brimmed hat, and oversized pendant necklaces. “And how many rings do you need?” Wright asked with a laugh.
Its selection ranges from sweet to risque, with period costumes from the Renaissance to the Roaring Twenties and the distant 1960s. Costumes may be all the rage with the movies and the news – “People like to be something shocking” – but some outfits are timeless. Cowboys, pirates, mermaids and period costumes are some of the most popular rentals.
“Very rarely (customers) leave here with nothing,” Wright said.
She doesn’t wear anything branded like anything Disney-specific, and shoppers won’t find mass-produced costumes in plastic packaging. His costumes are unique.
Although she has done research to bring authenticity to her costumes, Wright allows for creative interpretation. She has warned more than one going to Renaissance fairs that queen costumes with purple fabric are a no-no: that hue is reserved for the actual queen.
“You risk being harassed,” she tells them.