'Runway' Ready Halloween Costumes

Costume Ideas

For some Halloween costume ideas, Robert Siegel talks with Laura Bennett. She was the runner-up in this season of the hit Bravo TV series Project Runway. Bennett, the mother of five children — with a sixth on the way — says people should stick with the scary theme for their kids. She recommends tin foil if you're making a last-minute run to the supermarket to make a costume on a shoestring budget.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Well, fear aside, we're now going to spend a few minutes on what Halloween is really all about - costumes. Well, maybe candy comes first, but costumes are very, very important, at least a close second. And to help you navigate this final weekend rush at the party stores or perhaps at the supermarket, we have brought in an expert. Welcome by phone, Laura Bennett, who was the runner up in the hit Bravo cable TV show Project Runway. Hi, how are you?

Ms. LAURA BENNETT (Runner-up, Project Runway): I'm fine, how are you?

SIEGEL: Fine. You are the mother of five, expecting Number Six. Are you doing something for your kids for Halloween this year?

Ms. BENNETT: Well, I have to say that this year, I'm taking the year off. Normally, Halloween is the biggest holiday in our family, but because I'm so pregnant this year, I'm really just working on the Halloween party at my children's school.

SIEGEL: Well, this gives you a chance, then, either to recall great costume ideas from Halloweens past or simply, in the abstract here, to imagine the ideal Halloween costume for this year that you can think someone else might make.

Ms. BENNETT: Halloween costumes, for me personally, have to be scary. I mean, if you didn't have another opportunity during the year, like Mardi Gras, to wear sort of the funny costumes, I would understand, but in our family it's usually a scary costume.

SIEGEL: But how scary can a, you know, three and a half foot tall child really be?

Ms. BENNETT: Well, no, I understand that, and I have actually freaked out a few small people with my own costumes. I tend to, you know, wear these like scary latex dresses, and I have these contact lenses that sort of white out your entire eyeball except for the small, black pupil.

SIEGEL: Is that something that's actually on the market?

Ms. BENNETT: Oh yeah. You can get cat eyes or you can make your eyes, you know, the colored part of your eye, the iris, red. It's really weird. And people will, like, talk to you for a few minutes, and then they'll say I'm sorry, I just can't talk to you.

SIEGEL: I bet they do say that.

Ms. BENNETT: And then they walk away, yeah. It freaks everyone out, large and small.

SIEGEL: Well, some other Project Runway folks worked with NPR.org, our Web site, to put together some suggestions for costumes, and in fact, our listeners can go online and see what those look like. One involved a parent who dresses all in blue holding a blue sheet, and then the child essentially just wears all black and dances around listening to an iPod. It's a takeoff on an Apple ad, in other words. They sort of act - it's a living tableau of the Apple ad. Have you ever been able to come with an idea, at least, which obviously your children would reject, of some ensemble idea for Halloween?

Ms. BENNETT: Like a really clever sort of in the moment ensemble idea.

SIEGEL: Yeah.

Ms. BENNETT: Gosh no, I don't know, because I tend - like I said, I tend to stick with the scary costumes. But I do like the idea of the iPod tableau. That's a good one.

SIEGEL: Does what's scary change a great deal with fashion, do you think? Are there things that are just too tacky to be scary in the 21st Century, so you don't do them, or is it the good old fashioned ghosts and goblins and spider webs and bats?

Ms. BENNETT: You know, look. There's nothing like a good, old classic black sweatshirt and sweatpants with a white skeleton painted on it, as far as I'm concerned. I love to see that at Halloween.

SIEGEL: The little black suit with the skeleton on it.

Ms. BENNETT: Yeah.

SIEGEL: Old standby.

Ms. BENNETT: Yeah. And I saw - my children were watching a rerun of The Little Rascals, and they put all the little rascals in their little black suit with the skeleton painted on them dancing in front of a black sheet. So similar to the iPod sort of tableau. You know, how cute is that to see all these little skeletons just moving about in front of the black fabric. I just love it.

SIEGEL: Well, Laura Bennett, thank you very much for talking with us about Halloween.

Ms. BENNETT: All right. Thank you.

SIEGEL: That is Laura Bennett, who was the runner up on Project Runway. She's the mother of five and, shortly, six, and she was talking to us from her home in New York City.

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