The moment the door opened, I knew this visit would be something different. But then, knowing Luciano, I should have expected that.
This house is a comic book nerd’s dream home. Curio cabinets stand full of action figures and exact replicas of movie props. Shelves line the walls, holding up a macabre array of masked and wigged heads, their headless bodies propped nearby in full costume. (Overnight guests might find stumbling around in the dark to find the bathroom a bit disconcerting. Especially because this house has a ghost…but that’s another story.) Even the kitchen is littered with body parts, and the dining area is taken over by a well-used workbench strewn with ominous tools.
In case you haven’t figured it out, Luciano (Looch to his friends) is a costume maker. I’d met him years ago when we both worked at the BC Renaissance Festival. He scared me a little, back then. But he was supposed to scare me. Luciano was dressed as a pirate, and when Luciano wears a costume, he becomes the character.
Looch’s obsession with costumes began at an early age. Like other young kids, he ran around the neighborhood in a Zorro costume and went trick-or-treating every year. His uncle gave him a batman costume that he wore everywhere – school, church, grocery store – until he bulged around the waistband and his forearms gaped several inches past the ends of the sleeves.
The real obsession began when he was 14. Star Wars had just hit the theaters and Looch had to have a Luke Skywalker costume. After years of suffering with Ben Cooper Halloween costumes, Looch had learned that if he wanted a costume to look right, he’d have to do it himself.
He took a white sheet from the linen closet and hid it long enough that he thought his mother had forgotten about it. This sheet became his first Skywalker costume, based on images on TV and pictures in magazines.
At 15, he made use of the leftover bed sheet scraps, a blue t-shirt, his dad’s rubber work gloves, gum boots with tops flopped over, and a garbage can lid for a shield…et voilà! Captain America.
As Looch’s obsession with costuming grew, so did his skill. Now Looch makes costumes for others, including my daughter’s cosplay costumes (which is why we were there). He uses a technique called draping, where he hangs a cheaper fabric on the person and keeps pinning and cutting until the desired look emerges. The resulting shapes made from the cheaper fabric are then used as patterns for the final costume. He uses Fimo, Sculpey, and other materials for accessories. What he can’t make, he buys online through forums.
“My ultimate challenge is to make a Mysterio costume,” Looch tells me, holding up a small statue of the villain in question. “With fog special effects and a bubble helmet with no visible head inside.”
As he tells me the technical details of his plan, his eyes gleam with the enthusiasm of that young boy who once wore a Batman costume until it threatened to stunt his growth.
Luciano makes everything from steampunk, anime, and superhero cosplay costumes to wedding dresses and pin-striped suits. If you have a special whimsy you’d like to fulfill, leave a comment and I’ll put you in touch with him