Thursday, 30 May 2013

Coming out as a Cosplayer...

It'll be no surprise to those that know me that I like dressing up. In fact, I've always liked it, every part of it: choosing a character to emulate, creating the costume (almost always from scratch, much more satisfying!), getting into character...any excuse and I'm there!

So really it was only a matter of time before I started cosplaying, it was completely inevitable. In fact, I think I've actually been a cosplayer for years but haven't ever attached the term to myself! So here I am, coming out!

I should've seen the signs really: at 4 I insisted that my Bianca the Mouse (from The Rescuers) costume for Halloween couldn't possibly include plastic bags to carry sweets, because Bianca was only ever seen carrying suitcases; at 8 my Grandma made me a Simba the lion costume and whilst I had it on, I wouldn't walk on anything but all fours; at 17 I attended my first Rocky Horror Show in full unashamed regalia; at 18 I wore a Venetian mask to my sixth form ball (not a masked affair, officially, but when opportunity knocks...); the first time I played dungeons and dragons I drew my character and dressed up in my created costume (complete with elf ears); when a pub down the road from me had a 50s themed opening, I came up with a costume that was apparently so convincing that people thought I was a member of the swing dancing troupe who were in attendance; and, last week, after years of desperately wanting to attend, I finally made it to London's MCM Expo ComicCon in my hand created homage to Linda Carter, my Wonder Woman costume.

I've dressed as Wonder Woman a few times before but this was a few years back when my skill with a sewing machine was considerably less accomplished. I was determined to do the Amazon Princess justice this time (well she is a member of that league after You were expecting me to give up on the bad puns? No chance!).

So I did some research, in a large compendium of WW that my dad had bought for me many years ago. I decided I was going to go for the Linda Carter style costume with one important exception: the double W that emblazons her chest. The Linda C version of the costume had, varyingly, the full on American Eagle and a more stylised version thereof (involving angular gold feathers), neither of which, as a lady of a less American persuasion, particularly appealed. The double W, however, did appeal, in the same way that Superman's 'S' appeals: it is a symbol, a recognisable icon to inspire courage and strength. So, despite a technical inaccuracy, I went with this idea because part of the point of cosplaying is the fact that it allows one to add personal touches to well known characters.

The most difficult part of the costume, as far as I was concerned was the silky shorts/hot pants adorned with little white stars. These are readily available in Australia and America (in the form of dance shorts) via the medium of eBay but I decided against this option, for various reasons, cost and time being the main ones, as there was no guarantee that they would arrive in time and then I'd be up a certain famous creek without a paddle...and there was no way, despite my exhibitionist tendencies, that I was going sans hot pants. So making them myself was really the only option!

So I bought some shiny electric blue poly-satin from my favourite fabric shop on Goldhawk Road, A1 fabrics (they always seem to have what I want, at very reasonable prices...if this sounds like an advert, it is! Go there!) along with some white felt. I've never got on that well with commercial patterns, I much prefer making things myself because I tend to find it easier to make them fit (contrary perhaps, but as you'll see, it works for me!), so instead I found a pair of high waisted shorts in a charity shop that were the right general shape and fit me well. I made my own pattern with grease proof paper (Top Tip! Much cheaper than pattern paper or tracing paper!) by drawing around the shapes of each section of the shorts. I cut the shapes out of the fabric, sewed them loosely together and tried them on...miraculously, they fit. True, I spent a couple of days fine tuning and getting the hems to be the right shape (a sharp V from the crotch up practically to the hip bone) but all in all it was quicker and easier than if I'd attempted a shop-bought pattern.

The other main part of the costume was the top, which I have to admit I didn't make myself. Partly due to time and partly due to the fact that corset making is not currently my forte; I wanted the top to help me accentuate my figure into (even :-p) more of a 50s hourglass so some proper corsetry was required. And for this I headed to my usual merchant of choice in this area (and yes, I'm the sort of person who has a regular corset proprietor, are you really that surprised?), Corsets UK (another advert! Cor, this post's like that bit in Wayne's World with all the product placement...) who provided me very quickly with the perfect cherry red, satin top with a deep V neckline (perfect for the addition of a W or two!).

The other bits and pieces of the costume (bracelets, cape, headband, belt, earrings) I either already possessed or I adapted from the previous versions of the costume I had made. The boots were the only thing that involved no making or adapting on my part, I got them in a sale at the wonderful Escapade in Camden (advert number 3, and we're not done yet folks!) for £20. I was a very happy bunny the day I found those!

I spent almost all of my free time over the last couple of weeks sewing, thinking about sewing, planning or shopping for details and fabrics. The last thing I purchased was the wig. I'm not dark haired (as you may or may not have noticed...) and I certainly have no expertise in curling my hair (apart from one wonderful experience with a skilled friend and her GHDs, it always, without fail falls out within an hour) so a wig was really the only way to go for authentic dark, tumbly curls. Being a Brixton resident, it would have been terribly remiss of me not to get my wig in one of our many (no seriously, you've never seen so many wig shops in one place, pay it a visit if you don't believe me, or want a good quality wig at a low price (see?)) fine false hair merchants.So I purchased a 'Queen 1', which you'll all be happy to know is curling iron safe and can be washed with shampoo...

Cut to Sunday morning and I'm putting it all together. Having previously decided to put some form of clothing over the tops of our costumes, my friend (who went as Syndrome from The Incredibles, cool right?) and I threw caution to the wind and stepped out onto Tulse Hill, our capes billowing in the breeze, in our full comic-book glory. And to be honest, we both loved it; from the honks and waves in the street (to which we responded 'Thank you, Citizens!' to the people on the tube being ever so British and trying not to look directly at us as if we didn't realise we were dressed that way in public and to look at us might just confirm our madness...

As we got closer to the ExCel centre, more and more costumed folk appeared on our train until we were part of a sort of parade heading for the entrance. And there were some truly amazing costumes there, but that is another post, dear reader, for another day.

For now I shall close by informing you that I'm already planning my next forray into the cosplaying world. I'm not going to tell you who it is but I will tell you she's a character from a recent popular video game...

Wonder Woman out!