From July 7-17, 2022, the world will turn its eyes to Birmingham for the World Games. And when the world sees Vulcan and Vesta, the 2022 World Games mascots will be wearing custom designs from College of Human Sciences alumna Mariah Gullatte.
The World Games take place the year after the Summer Olympic Games. Next year’s competition, is expected to bring 3,600 athletes from more than 100 countries to compete.
The World Games Committee trusted Gullatte to design costumes that would reflect not just the mascots, but the Games experience. Vulcan, Birmingham’s existing mascot, and Vesta, his companion created for the games, had to be creative, functional, and full of personality.
“They wanted me to create a design that really reflects who they are as people and bring out their inner character. I worked in aesthetics that show these are athletic games, so they had to be able to walk, turn, flip – I don’t know if Vulcan is as athletic as Aubie, but I definitely had to consider the type of environment, space, and audience they will be for,” Gullatte said. “Vulcan and Vesta are based on the era of gods and goddesses, and I wanted their costumes to reflect that time, so I brought in lots of natural textures and patterns while still getting creative with their designs.”
Vulcan’s costume consists of a faux leather apron with the World Games logo in dyed leather on his chest and a linen sash sporting the Games’ colors: green, yellow, blue, and red. Vesta sports a linen dress with an asymmetrical hem, cowl back neckline, and stone-studded jewelry. A close look at Vesta’s hemline shows the embroidery of the dress is actually a pattern Gullatte made from repeating and editing the World Games logo.
“I tried to be intentional with every piece of their garments,” Gullatte said. “They gave me a lot of creative range. Sticking with their aesthetic and their theme, they were definitely open to me being creative as a designer and my talents as a designer and my opinions, so I was really appreciative and grateful for that. It was a good challenge, this is my passion, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.”
In 2019, Gullatte applied to be the World Games mascot costume designer through the World of Opportunity programme, an initiative established by the Birmingham Organizing Committee to engage local, small, minority, and women-owned businesses to provide products and services to the games.
Gullatte used the e-portfolio she developed in one of her Auburn classes and was contracted as a costume designer. The next year and a half was filled with virtual meetings and interviews until finally, Vulcan and Vesta were revealed on July 7.
“Reveal day was really rewarding. All the feedback was great and the World Games staff was happy with it, and now pictures are all over the place,” Gullatte said. “After all of your late nights and hard work, it’s so humbling and super nerve-wracking because that’s your baby. You want people to receive it and understand it and know that you put a lot of work into it.”
The costume designs drew on all of Gullatte’s experience – her undergraduate career in Apparel Design and Production Management, her time as a special events coordinator for Auburn Athletics, and her current study of Hospitality Management.
During her undergraduate years at Auburn, Gullatte also earned a minor in International Studies in Human Sciences through her experience on the Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy program. She said the experience was humbling, challenging, and unforgettable, and because of it, she graduated with a deeper understanding of cultural awareness.
After graduating in Apparel Design and Production Management, Gullatte sought a degree in a seemingly different field – hospitality. But after working with her mother, Donna Gullatte, at Couture Creations Design and Events in Huntsville, Gullatte saw how well the curriculums complemented each other. “I’m following two passions: apparel and hospitality, which are definitely a lot more alike than different,” Gullatte said. “It’s two different products or services that you’re delivering, but you’re still managing your output, focusing on your customer service and the quality of your service. Auburn provided a holistic view of the industry and provides the business side of things, which is super important. Now that I’m looking for jobs, that’s what people want.”
Gullatte will receive her master’s in Hospitality Management this August. She is actively seeking employment that will combine her love for design and hospitality, with plans to one day open her own retail boutique. She currently offers apparel and event coordination services through her website: pcdboutique.com.
With just a few days left in her Auburn career, Gullatte reflects on how far she’s come and her advice for Auburn students.
“Auburn paved the way for me. Every class I had was helpful and I had a great experience there, socially and academically. I’m very grateful to Auburn and my family who supported me and made things possible for me,” Gullatte said. “Go to school for what you love. This is your time. At the end of the day, this is your life, choose something you’re happy with. Be involved, do an internship, and make connections – everyone at Auburn knows somebody who knows somebody.”
For more information on programs within the College of Human Sciences, visit humsci.auburn.edu.