Costuming Jareth, The Goblin King (or Queen) from Labyrinth

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Raise your hand if you grew up watching awesome classics such as Labyrinth and Princess Bride!  One of my favorite childhood (yes, I’m that old) films is Labyrinth, featuring David Bowie being typical gender-fluid David Bowie in his portrayal of the Goblin King.  When he passed away last year, my husband, niece and I attended a midnight showing of Labyrinth at the River Oaks Theater here in Houston.  After a couple glasses of wine that night, which is how every creative idea happens, I was inspired to recreate the Goblin King’s costume but with my own personal feminine spin (yet gender-fluid).  I do love playing the misunderstood villain, and I do enjoy a good gender swapped costume.  To add to the gender-swapping fun, I made for my husband Sarah’s vest from the film, and for my niece a grownup Toby.


Image: screenshots from the film Labyrinth (1986)

I started assembling pieces and accessories that wouldn’t need sewing right away.  My black corset from my Ursula costume was perfect for the silhouette I wanted for Jareth.  I also had a pirate/renaissance shirt hanging in the closet that had ruffly/poofy sleeves.  Did you know that the character was designed to resemble a barn owl?  Squint…you’ll see it.  So for me, I wanted a high collar and feathers and found this lovely shrug on Etsy from a gothic shop in Germany.  I also found the necklace on Etsy, and replaced the chain that came with it with a brown leather cord.



Not ready to deal with the lower half of me, I wanted a statement cape to complete the look up top.  Who wouldn’t want to wear a cape with all things?!  I’d wear one to work if they were still in fashion.  Jareth wears a cape in some scenes, and if you look at the picture above, you can see blue peeking out underneath one of his.  So I purchased 1.5 yards of metallic blue fabric for the inside of my cape, and 1.5 yards of metallic grey for the outside of the cape.  This fabric wasn’t cheap so I bought as little as I thought would work AND maximized the rectangle by cutting triangles, rotating every other triangle, and sewing it back together.



I did the inside of the cape separately from the outside of the cape, then sewed right sides together, turned it inside out, then cut off a small arc for my shoulders.



I added ribbon to the inside and outside of the cape for my shoulders and made sure the ribbon was long enough to tie underneath my shoulders to mimic the black shrug ties.



I felt like I needed more feathers so I ordered rooster feathers (AWAYTR® Rooster Hackle Feather Fringe Trim 5-6″ in Width Pack of 5 Yards (Black)) and sewed them to the bottom hem of the cape.  NOW it’s fabulous!



Rather than grey leggings like David Bowie wore in the film, I wanted to wear a skirt but also show off my knee high brown leather boots.  Solution: a hi-low skirt.  I used the Game of Thrones Daenerys costume skirt pattern (McCall M694) that I also used for my Artemisia costume, but cut it to hi-low.  It’s the same color as his leggings but it’s now a flowy and showy skirt…I love it!



Here’s the part where sacrifices were made…I looked everywhere for a fabric that matched Sarah’s vest and had no luck, all the while eyeballing the curtains in a guest bedroom because they were *close*.  As DragonCon approached, I was running out of time.  So a curtain was sacrificed.  I didn’t need much, but needed enough to end its life as a curtain.  I used McCalls 4321 Lined Vests, Bow Tie & Cummerbund for Sarah’s my husband’s curtain vest, which he paired with jeans and a simple white button up.



For my niece’s grown-up Toby, we couldn’t find a onesie in the proper stripes, but we did find this striped shirt on Amazon (Faithtur Women Fashion Red White Striped Long Sleeve Casual Loose Crewneck Tops Blouse (Tag M)).  No, she’s not Waldo.  Call her Waldo and she will end you.  She’s Toby, duh!



Nothing says villain like a cape and a cane, so I duplicated Jareth’s crystal ball cane by purchasing a cheap costume cane on Amazon (Theatrical Walking Cane Silver) and a crystal orb (NEW Crystal Ball 50mm Clear (Crystal Balls)).  I cut off the top of the plastic orb, glued in some craft foam, and glued the crystal ball onto the foam to hold it in place.  Because the ball is heavy, I advise using E6000 glue and to be careful with it.  It’s top-heavy!



And finally, I chose a more modern and feminine cut wig rather than Jareth’s classic spikey wig.  Just a personal preference…mullets don’t look good on me.  I did mimic his owl makeup and popped in one blue contact to attempt his strikingly extreme heterochromia eyes.



So our Labyrinth trio wore our costumes to DragonCon in Atlanta last year and Comicpalooza in Houston this year.  This is one of my favorite costumes and I can’t wait to wear it again!



You remind me of the babe…