Ken Tanabe creates Halloween costumes from helium balloons and old CDs

American designer Ken Tanabe has used a range of unusual materials including balloons, videotapes and CDs to form alternative Halloween costumes.

Halloween costumes by Ken Tanabe

Tanabe has spent the last 12 years designing substitutes to shop-bought Halloween outfits, creating a new costume each year.

Halloween costumes by Ken Tanabe

"I love Halloween, but I noticed that people's costumes tend to follow the same patterns every year," Tanabe told Dezeen.

Halloween costumes by Ken Tanabe

"The average costume is store-bought, overpriced, and something recognisable from pop culture. And everything is sexy or dead – or both! I decided I would do the exact opposite of those things."

This year, he has used letter-shaped silver mylar balloons to create a futuristic inflatable disguise. An A, two Hs and four Y-shaped balloons form his Chrome Cloud costume.

Halloween costumes by Ken Tanabe

The A balloon has been turned upside down to form a helmet, the Hs create arm coverings, and the Ys attach to the side of the body to create lobster-like inflatable claws.

Halloween costumes by Ken Tanabe

"The costume reminds me of balloon sculptures by artist Jeff Koons, and the 'stuffed' look of some runway fashion by Comme des Garçons," he said. "Since my costumes are typically geometric, it was fun to try something softer."

Halloween costumes by Ken Tanabe

In previous years, the designer has create a bright yellow high priest outfit, a his-and-hers set of hinged pink armour inspired by the winged protective gear worn by vikings, and an outfit that lamented the death of CDs and DVDs with a set of wearable disc-covered cubes.

Halloween costumes by Ken Tanabe

"People often see my costumes as robotic, but I think of them as organic and belonging to nature," Tanabe said.

Tanabe's 2011 costume featured giant scoop-hands, which were "designed for rapid collection of tiny 'fun-sized' halloween candy", while his 2010 Orange Lantern outfit borrowed on the shapes of paper lanterns and the narratives found in Japanese ghost stories.

Halloween costumes by Ken Tanabe

The designer often uses inexpensive, easily available materials – such as his 2004 costume which was built from hundreds of discarded videotapes attached to wearable cubes.

Halloween costumes by Ken Tanabe

"I like shopping at places like Ikea and the hardware store," he said. "This year, I saw those silver balloons shaped like letters of the alphabet and thought 'I wonder if I could wear those?'."

Halloween costumes by Ken Tanabe

French artist Gwen van den Eijnde also used everyday materials such as paper, plastic bags and toothpicks for his Baroque-inspired collection of theatrical costumes.

Halloween costumes by Ken Tanabe

One of the restrictions Tanabe places on his designs is that each costume costs around $40 or less, and the full details of materials used are listed alongside the images of his yearly outfits on his website.

Halloween costumes by Ken Tanabe

"One big challenge is to keep things fresh every year," he told Dezeen. "Another challenge is to give the costumes structural integrity in addition to aesthetic value. People trained in graphic design, like myself, are often most creative when there are design constraints."