They may have a fantastic cast of cartoon fashion plates and adorable little dolls from which to choose, but for the most part, young children want to go classic this Halloween.
Little boys want to impersonate anything ferocious--paratroopers to ninjas-- when they trick or treat. And as for little girls, "there will be four million princesses in California," Wanda Fudge predicts.
Fudge has an unusual vantage point for sizing up children's fantasies. She runs a new shop (at 7206 1/2 Melrose Ave.) called Kids in Costume, which, particularly at this time of year, has managed to stop pedestrian traffic.
"I drove by here one night and made my husband stop the car and turn around," says Marlene Lenard, mother of Erica, 5, who plans to go trick-or-treating dressed as "an authentic princess." Lenard adds: "We've been here three times in one week."
What parents like about the shop is that the costumes are not unlike the ones they wore as children--cowboys and Indians, devils and witches, firemen and nurses, and, to keep pace with the modern age, astronauts and race-car drivers.
The costumes are meant to involve children, to stimulate their imaginations, whether they are as grandiose as a gold lame dress with tulle petticoat or as simple as a black cape or a funny hat.
"A hat will transform a personality," says Fudge, who designed costumes for regional theaters in San Francisco and Sausalito and owned the children's clothing store, City Kids, in La Jolla before moving here last year.
Prices start at $23 for a Tinkerbell-style leotard and tutu. Custom-made outfits, designed by local costumers in the entertainment business, start at $100, plus the price of fabric.
Nowhere to be seen are the cartoon characters or rock stars of the moment. Not even E.T. or Michael Jackson bear their famous faces here. And toy-store variety, packaged costumes are strictly verboten.
"I consider putting a child in a plastic costume like putting them in a plastic bag," Fudge says. "They're worn once and they're torn.
"My philosophy is that if a child has a Superman cape, he'll wear it every day for three months until he's finished with being Superman. These are clothes you invest in and keep."
Although Kids in Costume opened in time for Halloween, it is not meant to become a seasonal store. The rest of the year, people can buy pajamas that resemble football jerseys, fancy party dresses, fringed cowgirl skirts or furry cowboy chaps that can be worn to school or piled in the family costume trunk. Fudge also says she can whip together unique costumes for dance recitals and other special occasions. "If somebody came in and needed 40 Carmen Mirandas, then we'd make 40 Carmen Mirandas," she says.
But Fudge's clientele is restricted to children under the age of 7. After that, she says, they surpass the "age of fantasy" and have a desire to be more contemporary.
"There's an innocence that disappears at about that age," Fudge says ruefully, having witnessed her own son Rossano, 7, decide to be dressed as a spike-haired punk this Halloween.