ANNIVERSARY SPEECH – National Park Service interpreter David Curl dons a coat, tie and hat to play the part of Ben Moore, pictured on the wall behind him, for the 100th anniversary delivery of Moore’s speech to the Skagway Pioneer Club titled “Skagway in Days Primeval” on Aug. 2. A small but appreciative modern-day audience watched the speech at the Park Service auditorium. JB

Mad Hatter's fashion show raises $1,700 for Little Dippers

During the gold rush days some women painfully laced themselves up in corsets to make themselves look fashionably wasp-waisted. Late last month, several Skagway women reenacted the ritual to perform for the benefit of the local seasonal Little Dippers Day Care.
The Mad Hatter’s Ball and Fashion Show provided fun for attendants and funds for the organization, Saturday evening, July 31. Audience members, too, were encouraged to wear corsets and other fancy garments, especially homemade hats, for the gala benefit at the Skagway Museum. Admission donations and sale of champagne, coffee and truffles netted the Day Care $1,700.
This fourth annual event drew 150 guests, many of whom did indeed wear mad hats. Baseball hats were not allowed, forcing attendants to use their creativity to earn a free truffle handmade by Don Nelson of the Red Onion. Hats showed up, fashioned of newspapers, straw, wool, velvet, feathers, tinsel and many other fabrics.

Models for the show were from left: Charity Pomercy, Cindy Karsten, Karin Gittins, Allison Haas, Jeanne Tyson, Rachel Henderson, Carly Myron, Jess Jennings, Beth Cline, Stephanie Jones, Angie DeBoise, Mariah Merales. Kneeling in front from left: Tamar Harrison, Candace Cahill, Cindy Gaddis. AC-C

Jason Knight wore a suede tam; Bruce Schindler, a white cotton Indonesian ceremonial head dress; Marcia Cook, a large green linen and silk picture hat. Kendall Ross of Pennsylvania wore a snake hat honoring the return of the goddess of wisdom and rebirth. Jamyn Cook from Little Dippers donned a crown of paper and paste jewels.
A number of guests were brave enough to wear a corset as part of their costume. One woman wore bib overalls over her red velvet corset-type top.
The event was choreographed by Nicki Bunting and organized and produced by Cori Giacomazzi of the Red Onion and Susan Jabal of The Haven Café. The Museum was the location for the second time because the show outgrew the Haven Café. Judy Munns, museum curator, and Debbie Hewlett assisted with building details.
The show began with a shadow box show of models dressing behind white curtains.
“This opening was an attempt to show the audience the effort it takes to get into a corset,” said Giacomazzi.

Pennsylvanian Kendall Ross’s hat was decorated with a snake honoring the return of the goddess of wisdom and rebirth. AC-C

The show itself evolved out of a desire of Jabal to provide an outlet for people like Giacomazzi to display their work. Hanging the corsets that “Corset Cori” created just didn’t do them justice; so they hit upon the idea of putting live bodies into the corset creations.
“At first it was difficult to get models, as the women were shy,” Giacomazzi said. “Now that they’ve done it, they come alive; and I have a waiting list of women wanting to participate. I try to use women with all different body shapes and types (so they look like real women).”
This show featured 14 local and seasonal Skagway women wearing white masks and corsets designed and constructed by Giacomazzi. Models circulated through the museum galleries marching, dancing and gyrating, sometimes brushing against the audience although guests were not allowed to touch or photograph the models.
Some models impersonated hikers on the Chilkoot and White Pass trails after adding back packs, blankets and rubber boots to their corset costumes.
Angie Hauge, director of Little Dippers, which is licensed for 30 children, said the funds will be used for staffing and projected expansion. This year the center served as many as 27 children at one time, ages 1-9.