Earlier this month, the costume company Yandy gathered members of the media at the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District to unveil its newest offerings for Halloween.
On display was a purple-haired mermaid, a sexy Northern Queen from “Game of Thrones” and a scantily clad pope modeled off Rihanna’s controversial Met Gala look.
But much of Yandy’s inspiration this year comes from the Washington, DC, swamp, and that includes its “Cloudy Affair” costume: a red mini-dress embedded with a giant set of plastic breasts is its interpretation of porn star and alleged former Trump paramour Stormy Daniels.
It’s been popular but customers have said it’s missing a certain accessory.
“People were annoyed that it didn’t come with its own toadstool,” Yandy exec Pilar Quintana-Williams, 37, told The Post, referring to Daniels’ graphic description of Trump’s private parts. The VP of merchandising at the Scottsdale, Ariz., company added: “If I had more time, maybe I would have [added] a toadstool clutch.”
Yandy, an online costume company that routinely sparks outrage, is never afraid to push the envelope. But that push landed it in hot water in September when it unveiled its “Brave Red Maiden” — a sexy version of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The robe-and-bonnet costume from the Hulu series is based on Margaret Atwood’s feminist novel, in which women become state-sanctioned baby vessels.
The backlash was so strong Yandy pulled the costume.
“Over the last few hours, it has become obvious that our ‘Yandy Brave Red Maiden Costume’ is being seen as a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than an expression of women’s empowerment. This is unfortunate, as it was not our intention on any level,” the company said in a statement.
“I wouldn’t say many of our ideas are offensive,” said Quintana-Williams, a fashion veteran who joined the company in 2013.
“We saw [‘The Handmaid’s Tale’] in pop culture and we’re seeing [the outfits at protests and political rallies], so we made our own version. We never really thought it was going to cause as much controversy as it did,” she said.
“I think we made a bold move with taking it down. We don’t take ourselves seriously. It’s Halloween. It’s meant to be fun.”
Started in 2007 as an online lingerie retailer, Yandy has evolved into a purveyor of sexy and sometimes controversial Halloween ensembles — translating memes, red-carpet moments and pop-culture figures into provocative costumes.
“Every year we’re trying to one-up ourselves,” said Quintana-Williams.
But sometimes that quest to go over the top backfires. In 2015, Yandy created a sexy version of Cecil, the African lion who had been slaughtered by an American dentist, and donated 20 percent of sales to the World Wildlife Fund. Although it was the second-best seller that year, people were not amused, and “Pretty Little Liars” actress Ashley Benson came under fire on social media for wearing it.
It left many scratching their heads and wondering just how these provocative, potentially un-PC getups get the green light.
“We understand that we have to roll with the punches, but everything is always in good fun here, ” said Quintana-Williams.
She revealed that there’s an ongoing ideas board posted at the Yandy offices as well as an online Google document where anyone at the company can post suggestions.
“We’re watching everything and just trying to keep up with the kids these days,” Quintana-Williams said.
So far, she said, ideas haven’t generally been rejected over fears of being offensive. “People come up with all kinds of crazy ideas and some of them are great but [there’s always the logistical question of] how do we make them into a costume? Is it something that someone can just go into their closet and make?”
For instance, she said, Yandy never would have made an Anthony Bourdain costume this year because anyone could create an homage to the deceased chef using items from their closets.
(The company does costumes inspired by other late celebrities, including Prince and the singer Selena.)
Yandy’s best sellers are age-old Halloween standards: an Arabian princess, a nun costume and a ninja. But they’re all skin-revealing, and it’s easy to see someone taking offense at them for cultural appropriation.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue blasted this year’s papal getup, telling The Post it’s a “cheap rip-off of the more contextualized Rihanna garb worn at the Met Ball. The flagrant display of three crosses on the Halloween costume takes the outfit to a new level — one that is morally debased.”
Quintana-Williams admits her ideas aren’t always on the money. As a result, she has been forced to eat crow — or pizza.
In 2103, the company created a sexy pizza-slice costume that Quintana-Williams thought would bomb. She bet her colleague that if it sold more than 100 costumes, she’d wear it out to a pizzeria. It sold more than 500.
“I found myself sitting in a Mellow Mushroom [restaurant] in a pizza outfit eating pizza during the lunch rush,” she recalled.
Though Yandy likes to poke fun at the headlines, it does have its limits.
Asked if she’d consider selling costumes depicting Brett Kavanaugh or Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Quintana-Williams said, “No, and no. We’re definitely not going near that.”
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