Playing Dress-Up

By Greg Hoekstra – North Shore Outlook
Published: October 27, 2010 10:00 AM

Laurie Sluchinski isn’t a magician.

But, if given the chance, she could just as easily turn you into a toad.

In fact, that’s exactly what Sluchinski does for a living. On a daily basis she transforms men into women, teens into elderly people, and elderly people into belly dancers, pirates and Roman emperors.

As the owner of North Vancouver’s Boo La La costume shop, Sluchinski plays dress-up 365 days a year — and she loves it.

Five years ago the Deep Cove resident bought Carol’s Costume Corner — then a 20-year-old institution on the North Shore — and has since rebranded it as her own thriving business, with hundreds of costumes available to rent or buy.

For Sluchinski, a fashion school grad who has long loved designing and making clothing, her new role is a dream come true.

Even as a young child growing up in Victoria, Sluchinski says costumes were a big part of her life.

From trouncing around the house with a homemade cape and a wooden spoon sceptre, to her imaginary travels across the globe with a magical black velvet beret, playing dress-up gave Sluchinski a creative outlet that she says is important even as we grow longer in the tooth.

“Dressing up is ageless,” says Sluchinski with a wide smile framed by a bright pink wig. “Play time is important. It makes life a richer experience.”

With a university degree in women’s studies and a background in psychology, Sluchinski says she’s also fascinated by the behaviours of her customers. “We have so many personalities living inside of us…I think we need to indulge them from time to time,” she says.

Between online sales, movie and community theatre rentals, and theme parties, Sluchinski says the costume business is steady throughout the year, but there’s no denying that Halloween is crunch time at Boo La La.

In addition to the North Vancouver store, this year Sluchinski has also opened a “pop-up” location in Downtown Vancouver for the month of October.

During a Thursday afternoon visit to her shop, a steady stream of customers make their way through the doors with a litany of requests for the staff members, from gypsy to astronaut to Little Red Riding Hood.

Sluchinski says costume trends vary from year to year, but are often driven by popular culture. In her line of work, every trip to the cinema can double as “research,” she jokes.

“Movies play a big part,” Sluchinski says, noting that some of the hottest costumes in 2010 are a result of the films Twilight and Alice in Wonderland. “There will also be a lot of Lady Gagas running around,” she adds, referring to the eccentric pop musician who sold out Rogers Arena in late August.

If you haven’t already chosen your costume for this weekend, there is still time to hash out a plan — even if it is last-minute.

Whether you pick something up at Boo La La or make something at home, Sluchinski says there really are no wrong decisions, as long as you have fun with it.

“Dressing up is rewarding. It’s amazing the joy it can bring,” Sluchinski says. “I really believe it’s something that should happen all year-round.”

See original article source: North Shore Outlook