Gorilla Costumes

Gorilla Costume Ideas

This is a blog post devoted to Gorillas. Not the real thing, but Gorilla costumes and costuming, which, of course, is what we do here at Props & Frocks in Essex.

We are well aware of the various variations of primates such as Gorilla, Chimp, Monkey and Orang-utan, and although our primary focus is upon the Gorilla, the piece may wander into generalised ape territory for reasons which may become clear. Incidentally, we have noticed that whilst Gorilla costumes are fairly easy to find, Orang-utan outfits are more of a rarity – unfortunately a bit like the species itself. This is especially frustrating for fans of Terry Pratchett (where an orang-utan (aka The Librarian) plays a pivotal role in many of the stories), fans of King Louie from ‘The Jungle Book’, and those who, for their own reasons, think that turning up as Clyde, Clint Eastwood’s ‘pet’ in the ‘Every Which Way’ films would be a great original ideas. But we digress..

The main purpose of our interest in Gorillas is that they are one of the few costumes (apart from those featuring weaponry) that males seem keen to wear to parties and other events; They are hot, impractical and usually feature an overhead mask, which makes speaking, eating etc. rather difficult, but the customer is king and why let practicality get in the way of a good idea? As an additional element of interest, in the City of London each year, in a somewhat unique event,  there is a major fundraising fun-run in aid of the Gorilla Foundation, called The Great Gorilla Run. In 2013 it’s on Saturday  21st September and the novelty is that those taking part by running/walking/staggering the 7km course do so dressed as gorillas. And not always just plain gorilla outfits – many are gorillas in costumes!

Inspired by this event, let’s look at the basic outfits: As with any costume, you get what you pay for – a cheap gorilla costume is usually just an all-fur suit with a rubber mask whilst the better quality outfits can feature a latex chest insert and a better quality, heavier latex-based overhead mask.(Of course it’s true that the lighter, cheaper version might be better for running in, but you make your own choice). You might also opt for a fur balaclava headpiece rather than an overhead mask for a number of very practical reasons. In the end, most people wear what they feel they will be most comfortable in – running vests and shorts over the suits –  but here are other options for gorilla dress-ups, not all necessarily suitable for fun-running unless you fancy a real challenge!

Gorilla in a Tutu (or Ra-ra skirt): An outfit with the benefit of extra visual impact with little extra effort. Unlike some other costumes, most tutus are elasticated, so should be able to fit around the waist of a gorilla costume. The concept can also be useful for a Movie party as such an outfit features in the film ‘Cabaret’.

Gorilla in a T-Shirt: Again, a fairly simple option, with the advantage that T-shirts can be found (or created) in extra large sizes to accommodate being worn over the gorilla costume.

Gorilla Bride: Third of the simple outfits – don’t need the full rig, just a white tutu or net skirt and tiara/veil will do.

The Urban Guerilla: Gorilla in combat gear or, in keeping with the City of London setting, bowler hat and bowtie (an umbrella might also be useful!).

Primate of England: Is a gorilla in an archbishop’s outfit possibly not Politically Correct? Hopefully, if it’s in a good cause, nobody will mind.

Optimus Primate: Gorilla meets Transformer in this cyber-based creation. Just add some appropriately decorated cardboard boxes to the basic gorilla suit and you’re all set to dominate.

The Aped Crusader: A variation close to our hearts as we spent time one year giving out promotional capes to the runners for the benefit of a TV series. In a more obvious costume-related incarnation, you use a Gorilla mask with a Superman costume or Batman suit. You could try getting the superhero outfit over the full gorilla suit but aside from sizing issues (most come in one size fits all, but not ‘over costumes’) you’ll be super-hot, and not in a good way. Gorilla hands (available as separate accessories may also be useful, although there may be ‘sweat issues’ with the hands.

Gorilla Carrying a Hunter in a Cage: A great illusion costume, but because of its cost, size and complexity not all outlets may stock it. If you can get hold of one, you’ll certainly attract attention, if only whilst people figure out how it works!

King Kong: Possibly the best known gorilla of all time thanks to several films. Portraying Kong, especially for a run, may pose complications: Carrying a representation or model of the Empire State Building certainly gives a clue, but can be cumbersome. One way we have seen is for Kong to have a mobile-like headpiece with various planes ‘buzzing’ around his head (as in the film), but others  have just used lightweight chains to represent the captured King of Apes.

Talking of Kong, there is a related female costume on the market which involves a dress seemingly in the grip of a large gorilla hand (channelling the scene where the heroine -Fay Wray or Naomi Watts according to your version – is carried by Kong to the top of the Empire State Building). An interesting novelty costume undoubtedly, but we are not sure how well it works out of context.