Lady Gaga, Buzz Lightyear and Snookie will be most copied this Halloween, says report.
Top Halloween costumes for 2010
It's almost the end of October. Which means two things: the return of decent weather; and Halloween - a chance for people to don their far-fetched alter egos for one sugar-fuelled night. Seen in some countries as a children's affair, where the vaguely sinister tradition of trick or treating sees troupes of little monsters trawling neighbours' houses for sweets (or they'll loo paper your garden), in others, particularly the US, where Halloween fever starts to hot up before the summer is even out, the adults want a slice of the action too.
Of course every year has its stock outfits; the witches, vampires and Chewbaccas that can be dusted off at a moment's notice, with perhaps a few tweaks to keep things fresh. But what about the serious Halloweeners? The ones who spend months preparing for the big night and whose costumes will be pitch perfect for that year, and therefore serve as a handy barometer of pop culture.
This year, according to a survey conducted by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation (NRF) of 2010's best-selling Halloween looks in the US, some familiarly flamboyant figures are riding high, including the costume queen Lady Gaga, Snooki from the hit reality show Jersey Shore, and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story.
These names come as no surprise. Barely a day goes by without La Gaga leaving onlookers slack-jawed at the audacity of her ensembles, including her most recent stunt last month when she wore a dress made entirely of meat to the MTV Video Music Awards.
Jersey Shore, the reality show that follows eight brash, party-loving residents of Seaside Heights, has been the surprise hit of 2010, having first aired in the US in December last year; and the diminutive, perma-tanned Snooki is its biggest star. Aspiring lookalikes will be after leopard print dresses, a bouffant wig and lashings of orange make-up.
And then of course there is Buzz Lightyear of Toy Story fame, the third instalment of which was released amid almost universal acclaim earlier this year.
Films can, it seems, provide a wealth of inspiration. According to the same survey, Alice in Wonderland looks are also selling well after the release this year of Tim Burton's re-telling of the tale. And healthy sales in blue Avatar costumes have also been noted. Meanwhile, that Halloween favourite, the old cape-and-pointy-teeth look has, thanks to the Twilight saga, taken on a new cachet.
Notably absent from this year's crop of costumes are those of deceased celebrities that featured heavily in 2008 and 2009. Last year, Michael Jackson outfits were reportedly flying off the shelves following the King of Pop's death in June. While in 2008 it was all about Heath Ledger's Joker from The Dark Knight, after the actor died suddenly in January. Halloweeners Stateside take their dressing up seriously (how else can you explain the smattering of grim-faced Bernie Madoffs who mingled with the fairies last October 31?) But what about the UAE? What do outfit sales say about what's au courant here?
"Capes are huge," says Catherine Korb, the manager of the Dubai fancy dress shop Mr Ben's Costume Closet. "It means they don't have to put on an entire outfit, but can accessorise it if they want. Some just want the scar on the cheek while others go the full hog with the coffin as well."
Other hot sellers, she says, are Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street (a remake of which was released this year) and Harry Potter (the penultimate film comes out in November). "Harry Potter flies off the shelf all year round," she says.
As much as Halloween outfits can be a barometer of pop culture, they can also be a reflection of national mood. According to the NRF, more people in the US will be dressing up for Halloween this year than since 2003, when they started tracking Halloween trends. "It's relatively affordable, purely discretionary spending," Kathy Grannis, a spokesman for the NRF, told the Associated Press, "and a great way to kick back and forget about what lies around the corner. We saw a rise like this in 2008 as well as in 2002 after 9-11."
Equally, in Dubai, business has been booming since Korb started at Mr Ben's in October 2008, around the time of the economic downturn. "It's all about home entertainment," she says. "People save so much money by having parties at home, and fancy dress is a great way to do that."