This Stranger Things Upside Down Gown Is Nothing Short Of Iconic

Dubbed the 'Upside Gown', it took Elien Rijnbeek two weeks to make from recycled plastic.
Elien Rijnbeek posing in her Upside Down dress,
Sebastian Weissbach
Elien Rijnbeek posing in her Upside Down dress,

You don’t need to visit Hawkins to slip into the Upside Down, because a Stranger Things fan has created a gown that channels the spirit of Vecna from home.

Elien Rijnbeek (who goes by Lie for short) is a seriously talented cosplayer who’s been creating costumes inspired by pop culture for the past 15 years. When she watched the latest season of the Netflix show she knew a design was in order.

“I absolutely love Stranger Things! Normally I’m very scared of everything horror, so I sometimes have to close my eyes and wait for the more visceral scenes to be over. At the same time, I’m really drawn to horror stories that are subtle and creepy,” the 31-year-old who’s based in Berlin, Germany, tells HuffPost UK.

“I’m also a fan of the 80s aesthetics and all the DnD [Dungeons & Dragons] references. I only recently got into DnD and quite enjoy playing it myself.

“The beautiful cinematography is also a huge plus for me, it’s just a stunning looking show with some spectacular visuals – like the Upside Down. After four seasons I’ve also grown quite fond of the characters. Robin and Steve ‘The Hair’ Harrington are particular favourites of mine.”

The set for season four was also off the scale and on Twitter, Rijnbeek spotted a post detailing how the crew created the elements using bubble wrap and pool noodles.

A friend of hers had recently moved to Berlin, so she had a lot of leftover plastic wrap and Rijnbeek recycled this to make the majority of the dress – which she’s named ‘The Upside Gown’.

“The base of the corset is made out of Worbla – which is a thermoplastic material that you can shape to your liking,” she explains. “So I heated it up and shaped it onto my dress form for a base.

“I then took these rather huge stiff plastic sheets to glue them onto a bodice and created this wobbly plastic skirt. I stuck parts of it together with hot glue to add some bulge, texture, and visual interest. Then I made around forty plastic sausage thingies to recreate the illusion of the flesh vines from the Upside Down.”

Elien Rijnbeek

Rijnbeek wanted to create movement in the gown, giving the illusion that the vines and tentacles were reaching out from the floor across the skirt and towards the corset. She used hot glue to add an organic feel to the bodice to “introduce some randomness”, nailing that “fleshy feel” and bringing the dress to life.

“The final step was painting the dress. I used black acrylics and wood glue, so the colour would attach nicely to the plastic while maintaining its flexibility,” she explains.

“After the base I used a gradient of black, purple, and various red tones to replicate the colours of the Upside Down and make it feel even more organic.”

The Upside Gown took two weeks to create from start to finish. But even then, Rijnbeek wasn’t 100% satisfied.

“In the end I also just had to stop myself from adding any more plastic sausages and making the dress more elaborate,” she says. “I feel like I could spend weeks and months on these projects, but at some point you simply have to let go.”

Elien Rijnbeek

The hard work has paid off though, with a photo of Rijnbeek’s design gaining more than 116K likes and 10K retweets on Twitter.

“I’m super happy by the huge reaction and quite overwhelmed. I put a lot of time and effort into this dress and was hoping people would like it, but I really didn’t expect this kind of reaction,” she says.

“Last year I created an armour made out of puzzle pieces that I nicknamed Puzzle Knight – that also had a great response, but nowhere near the reactions I’ve seen so far for the Upside Gown. It just really makes me happy to see so many people enjoy something that I’ve created and take some inspiration from it.”

Can you imagine if Eleven wore this in the next (and final) season? Iconic.

Sebastian Weissbach