Our Story

Fulfilling Fantasies Since 1890!

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Grandma Wonder created this scrapbook about her costume business over many decades.

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Grandma Wonder's Scrapbook

Helen's Pacific Costumers was founded as a family business in 1890 in Portland, Oregon, and has been continually woman-owned ever since. Fred and Ellen "Grandma" Wonder built floats and costumes for the Rose Parade when floats were still pulled by horses. Grandma Wonder dressed Sarah Bernhardt and Lillian Russell and made many of the early Rose Festival costumes.

The company became a leading float builder and developed into a leading builder of mascots like Jammin' Salmon and Portland Power's Hoops for companies, municipalities, and schools on the West Coast and in the Pacific Northwest.

The company has won four Grand International Awards from the National Costume Association. Throughout its history, it has continued to build and rent costumes for themed events and theatrical plays from its inventory of thousands of costumes and props.

Multiple Grand  International Award Winner

Helen's Pacific Northwest Costumers is the proud winner of four Grand International Awards, beginning with The Wild Swans in 1964. Three other award-winning costumes followed, celebrated on covers of The Costumer magazine.

Dino-Show-A-Saurus and Lib-A-Rex-A-Saurus, Grand International Award Winner, 1997, on the cover of The Costumer magazine.Dino-Show-A-Saurus and
Lib-A-Rex-A-Saurus
Mardi Gras Now, Then, and Forever, Grand International Award Winner, 1993.Mardi Gras, Then, Now, and Forever

Luchiccio Drago, Grand International Award Winner, 2003, on the cover of The Costumer magazine.

Luccichio Drago

Historical Timeline From 1890 to Today

Tap on the Timeline and then on Right arrow to see the next era.

  • HPC Historical Timeline: 1890-1920
    HPC Historical Timeline: 1890-1920

Carrying  the Tradition into the Future

Pam Monette has a Bachelor of Arts in Mixed Media Arts from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. She started working at HPC in 1972 for Helen and Al Learman. She soon became "family" at HPC and Al decided to leave her the business. Pam is the creative mind behind the mascots and custom costumes and every other part of the business.

Gina has volunteered at HPC since 1975. She loves to sing while she builds custom mascots or sews costumes.

Sally started volunteering at HPC in 2013 and is the Manager. She is a member of the Oregon Mermaid Pod, a volunteer group. She enjoys working with directors to match costumes to their visions because being in high school plays meant so much to her. She spent a year at Oxford University and has a BA in Literature from Columbus State University and an MA in Literature from Georgia State University.

Judy started volunteering at HPC in 2000. She is a retired teacher turned seamstress. She has sewed since high school. She specializes in costume alterations, repairs, and restorations.

Deanna started volunteering at HPC in 2015. She specializes in cleaning costumes and fills in wherever needed. She recently pulled costumes for Brigadoon for Camus High School in Washington State.  The play went on to win the Fifth Avenue Award, a statewide competition, and went on to the Nationals. She enjoys working with such a diverse group of talented people, where all of their different creative abilities come together as one.

Dana also volunteers at HPC wherever she is needed.

Cathy started volunteering at HPC in 2015.

Mary has applied makeup and body paint for special events for about ten years at HPC. She is a Licensed Cosmetologist and Beautician.

Linda served as Floor Manager for 30-40 years before retiring in 2015. Linda and Pam went to art school together at Western Washington University and also has a BA in Mixed Media Arts. Her work was much appreciated and we miss her. She came back at Halloween in 2015 to help us out.

We are grateful for the services of a dozen other independent contractors who fill in as needed.

 

Everything is more fun in costume!