The festivities for the annual San Diego Comic-Con are going virtual again for the second year in a row, but the 2021 con will feature something that couldn't happen last year: the Her Universe Fashion Show competition, hosted by Star Wars: The Clone Wars fan favorite and Her Universe founder Ashley Eckstein. For the first time, the popular event that showcases looks that combine fandom with "geek couture" designs will be all-virtual and streaming on YouTube. Eckstein spoke with CinemaBlend ahead of the 2021 fashion show, and opened up about the beautiful gift she received after the 2020 show was cancelled, and more.
The Her Universe Fashion Show was part of the planned lineup for SDCC in 2020, but the seventh annual presentation had to be cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. Although the Comic-Con festivities are virtual yet again this year, Ashley Eckstein and the Her Universe team worked to make the fashion show happen anyway. With this year's show embracing the theme of "community," Eckstein shared how determined they were to bring the show back in a new virtual way:
Oh, we were 100% determined, and driven to make the show happen this year. And it's truly because of our community. You know, I was completely blown away and shocked last year, when our fashion show community came together and surprised me with a unity quilt. The designers got together because they were very bummed that the fashion show wasn't happening. And it wasn't about the competition aspect, it was about the fact that they didn't have the opportunity to come together as one. And they really miss that. And so they explore ways to still do that. And so they came up with this idea where all the past designers from the past six shows, could each make a square for a quilt inspired by their couture design. And they sewed all these squares together and sent it to me, and I had no idea it was coming. It was literally the most beautiful gift I've ever received in my life. And I sobbed, just sobbed happy tears. And at that moment, me and the Her Universe team, we said 'We have to find a way to bring this show back.' Because this show, even though it is a competition, it's not about the competition. It's about community. It's about bringing people together to support each other. And so yeah, I'm thrilled to say that we're back. It is virtual this year, because we wanted to just ensure the health and safety of everyone involved, but we were able to make it happen.
Last year, the community dedicated to the Her Universe Fashion Show came together to surprise Ashley Eckstein with a quilt that was a beautiful surprise, and Eckstein shared an image of the quilt on social media last fall. And the quilt did more than just surprise and delight Eckstein, as it was the moment that convinced her that the fashion show needed to come back somehow in 2021. Fast-forward to this summer, and the Her Universe Fashion Show is happening on July 23!
That said, like many other people and groups over the past year, the Her Universe team had to adapt to make the show into something virtual, when it usually involves a packed house of fans and geek couture models (including Ashley Eckstein herself) strutting their stuff along a catwalk. Eckstein shared how they faced challenges in taking the show virtual:
Well, I mean, there were constant, I guess I should say maybe roadblocks, and there was never anything bad. I guess I would liken it to like a maze where, you know, you're going down one path, and then all of a sudden, you hit a dead end. And you have to like pivot and walk a different way. We tried our best to keep the show and its format exactly the same. But there are some differences with it being virtual. I have to give so much credit to our community and the designers that are competing this year, because we met once a week with all the designers. The show kind of evolved as it went. The designers even with some of their questions, you know, caused us to think and change things and say, 'Oh, yeah, it would work better that way.' So it was definitely a collaborative effort. And I guess I should say a community effort. So I think everyone will be pleased with the final product.
The evolution of the show and collaboration between everybody needed to make the show is a pretty good sign that fans are in for something special when the Her Universe presentation kicks off on Friday. The whole team has taken the time and put in the effort, and there's clearly a lot to be excited about. Ashley Eckstein continued, explaining one element that she herself is particularly excited about:
I'm also very, very pleased the audience at home will get to be a part of the show as well because the audience at home will have the chance to vote on the audience winner. We were able to keep that aspect of the show. And so from Friday night, as soon as the show ends, all the way through 11:59 p.m. PST on Sunday night, voting will be open. And then we'll announce the winner and update the show with the audience winner on Wednesday, July 28.
The in-person audience in previous years got to vote on a winner, and that element of the Her Universe Fashion Show wasn't lost just because of the switch to virtual. Fans will be able to vote from home, and there will be plenty of time to do it, with voting open from the end of the show on Friday night through Sunday night, with the results coming next week.
While fans and viewers will have to wait until the Her Universe Fashion Show at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on July 23 to find out everything in store, Ashley Eckstein has shared a sneak peek at something very cool that will have a part to play in the festivities: a clutch purse made out of LEGO. Having had some experience with LEGO, I just had to ask the actress an important question: was she nervous about dropping it and potentially sending LEGO pieces flying everywhere? She shared:
Oh, yes. Oh, yes. It was sent to me by the LEGO Master Builders in Enfield, Connecticut, and they're just amazing. I mean, the fact that someone can be, as their job, a LEGO Master Builder, I think is one of the coolest jobs you can have. So the fact that it was a custom piece built for me by a Master Builder, first of all just blows my mind. And they carefully packaged it and sent it to me all wrapped up in bubble wrap. And I still keep it in the bubble wrap. I mean, it's a very sturdy clutch. Like it is very well made, you know, unless you drop it. I mean, it's not going to fall apart. And it's definitely functional. Like, I can use it as an actual clutch. But I'm gonna save it for very special occasions… Yes, I definitely handled it with care. But you know, it's such a beautiful clutch. It's so well made. And so well done, that you will definitely be seeing me carry it again. I'm gonna save it for special occasions. I'm sure I will be bringing it to Star Wars Celebration next year.
The LEGO clutch is not only impressive for being a functional purse, but it was also customized with an Ahsoka Tano design that could well make Clone Wars fans everywhere wishing for their own LEGO Master Builder expertise. Take a look:
See Ashley Eckstein back in her role as host of the Her Universe Fashion Show when it kicks off virtually for the first time ever, on Wednesday, July 23 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on the [email protected] YouTube channel. You can also check out her work as Ahsoka Tano with the full runs of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (which ended with an epic finale last year), Star Wars Rebels, and Star Wars: Forces of Destiny streaming on Disney+, plus a surprise cameo in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more on the way from Ashley Eckstein about Star Wars, geek couture fandom, and more! For more viewing options now and in the coming weeks, check out our 2021 summer TV premiere schedule.