Monthly Archives: October 2011

Remembering Last Exile

I first watched Last Exile with my dad when I was in high school. I had never watched an anime like it before, and it’s probably one of the most influential series in my taste in anime. Because of Fam—the anime I’m looking forward to the most this season—I spent the weekend marathoning through the original Last Exile series while doing sketches for class.

Last Exile was always on the fringes of my cosplay plans. I could never quite decide between Dio Elaclaire and Alex Row, but I’d always leaned towards Dio because Alex made me feel a little uncomfortable. My face was too young for him and I didn’t quite understand him to the same extent that I understood Dio. Since I was facing the thought of leaving home and becoming an adult, Dio’s story made more sense to me. But even though Dio would have been an excellent addition to my white wig collection and the refined simplicity of his costume would have done wonders for my technical skills, I just never got around to him between my involvement in a cosplay group at that time, and getting ready for college.

So when I heard rumors of a Last Exile sequel, I decided to wait and see how it would play out. One of my cosplay friends up here (the one who has the same taste in cosplay as me) is working on filling out her list of future cosplays, and with Fam coming up, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce her to Dio and the world of Last Exile. She also hasn’t watched too much anime, so I try to show her good series when I can.

But as we watched, I started remembering Alex Row’s story: the tragedy of the loss of the love of his life, the crushing admittance of his moment of cowardice, his mask of apathy and how it at times turned into gentle protection of Claus and Lavi, and later Dio and Lucciola, and at other times slipped into raw anger and an ultimately fatal desire for revenge and a new world freed from the cruel reign of the Guild.

We tried to play the ‘guess who I’d cosplay at the end of the series’ game, but it took her all of two episodes to decide that Alex fit me best this time around (surprisingly enough to me, she initially liked Tatiana Wisla best before Dio’s creepiness evolved into being adorable.)

Curiosity got the best of me, and I looked up the character art for Fam. Dio’s design can be found here, along with the rest of the concept art that has been revealed so far.

While I love Dio’s design for my friend, no one visually captured my interest. I don’t know if I’m stuck on Alex, or if I’ll have to watch Fam all the way through first. I have a lot of hope in this series as a sequel, and I’m excited to see how the world continues after the upheaval at the end of the original series.


Gimme Gimme Pillow Toast Medical Punk Fashion Show

On Saturday I went to Gimme Gimme Pillow Toast‘s Medical Punk fashion show at Mod Livin’ in Denver. I missed the one last winter, so I was especially excited to support my friend who modeled in the show and look at all the fashion!

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I should have brought my good camera, but I didn’t plan on taking photos of the fashion show itself. We didn’t know that the theme was Medical Punk, but with Halloween coming up it was perfect. This is the video of the final walk:

A Present for Madam Red

After her flight back from Kumoricon, one of my cosplay friends discovered that TSA had done quite a bit of damage to several parts of her Madam Red and Panty costumes. So we decided to remake a few of the destroyed pieces as a surprise.

As her Grell, I decided to tackle her choker. And then I thought: while I was at it, why shouldn’t I make chokers for both of my Madam Reds?

Since we don’t really know how much longer we have with my Colorado Madam Red before she moves halfway across the country, I gave it to her this weekend during a horror movie marathon.  And…

She saw the black lace and freaked out. We didn’t understand why she refused to open it in front of our guy friend. Then I thought about it for a second and told her about fifty times that it wasn’t underwear (why would I give her underwear? She’s got plenty from her Panty cosplay.) She didn’t really believe me and flung the choker onto the couch a good five feet away before she saw the gems and chain and everything.

Most hilarious reaction to a present I’ve ever seen? I think so.

This is the one I made for her. It’s basically my reinterpretation of the commissioned choker that came with her dress. It has a velvet ribbon base with black lace stitched onto the top and bottom, with a skinny black trim to disguise the stitching. The black trim was also a good anchor for the brooch, chain, and beading. She’d always had problems with her old choker’s fit, so I made it adjustable with a bit of extra Velcro.

For Amara, I decided to go more with my own instincts on how I would make Madam Red’s choker. But I haven’t yet found the perfect brooch for the center, so the design’s a secret until it’s in her hands!

Protests and (Not) Looking Pretty

I wasn’t going to talk much about my production design work this semester, but then I saw this article on the protests happening right now . Judging by my instant ‘Oh I know what to wear to a protest!’ before I even clicked on the link, I definitely still feel strongly about the message of the production and my experiences even though it closed on Sunday.

My university’s production of Waiting for Lefty was a reaction to the Wisconsin protests that took place this past year when labor unions were threatened with the loss of collective bargaining rights. The director staged the production during a contemporary union meeting, and (spoilers!) in the end, they strike.

Contemporary clothing, even high fashion contemporary clothing, isn’t something that I deal with much in cosplay. And it’s a totally different story when you’re not dressing your own body. The illusion of familiarity with contemporary clothing was a challenge, because it’s a vocabulary that the actors and the audience speaks, and because all of the things I like and don’t like about what I (and other people) wear on the street came out in my instinctive design choices. A college student’s Vogue-laced impression of clothing wasn’t necessarily the best look for these characters. The show was all about the background characters of America, and for me, about learning how to preserve that ‘everyman’ look while allowing them to be heard.

I speak a little about my opinion on the relationship between cosplay and a career in costume design in Steven Savage’s recently published book, Focused Fandom: Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers. I interviewed with him before Waiting for Lefty really began, but if anything, working on this production cemented my conclusion that A doesn’t necessarily equal B. What did change was this: if you are a serious cosplayer, I cannot more highly recommend taking any opportunity to see how costuming works in a theatrical or film production.  There have been things I’ve picked up from cosplay that help in the theater world, and vice versa, but it’s not about the technical details like that. It’s about seeing what happens when an individual piece fits into something much greater than the sum of its parts. That’s a perspective you can take to masquerades, to group cosplay, and to the entire American cosplay community.

Back to Work: Amano Kuja II Supplies (Pics!)



I’ve been really picky about fabric lately. I’ve actually been so picky about fabric that I’ve started to hate shopping with myself and shopping for fabric in general, but that’s because I’ve been shopping for Amano Kuja II fabric. But after months of shopping, which has turned into my eyes glazing over at the mere sight of a bolt of fabric (good thing I go back to work as a stitcher next week, right?) I finally have enough to get started.

All of this is from Denver Fabrics. I think finding a good, opaque white is the most important part of any Kuja cosplay because of his black thong. It also has a bit of luster and texture but not too much, which I like since everything else on this costume will be texture, pattern, and more texture just for fun. The two pale blues (one is a metallic) will be used on the jacket, upper sleeves, and everywhere else, but in ‘everywhere else’ there will probably be buckets of beading on top. The darker blue will be lining and trim. I almost got the blue and silver version of the purple beaded trim I purchased for Treno Kuja, but then I remembered that the only reason I could afford that trim was because it was on clearance. I still don’t know exactly what I want to do with the trim, though, so maybe that was for the best.

This was taken with flash, so you can see the luster of the white, as well as something weird going on with the silk chiffon. I’m glad the luster shows through, at least. The periwinkle chiffon was left over from Treno Kuja, the other chiffon is just a duller pale blue version of the same fabric (but it’s good to know now that it goes darker under flash.) Right now, I’m thinking of multiple sleeves,with the white on top and the chiffon peeking out from the hem.

I picked up the shinier fabric at Denver Fabrics, but the patterned upholstery fabric is from Hancock. I’m not sure which side I want to use yet, or even if I want to use both, so it’s folded over. I’m 99.9% sure that shiny fabric is poly something, so I’m going to cut it in the jagged shape of Kuja’s armor/undershirt thing and singe the edges, and layer that over the orange, which will be knife pleated and then cut with the same jagged hem. I’m not sure if I want to attach it to the jacket or have it be a separate garment yet.

Those little chain/bead… fringes… are going all over the orange fabric of the undershirt. I’m going to hate myself so much in a week when I’m handsewing each one on!

These are buckles I picked up years ago at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. The beads are left over from CLAMPtastic Vampire Fai from this past A-kon. I have no idea where the beads are going to go. The buckles are for Kuja’s thigh-high boots.

Let me explain this whole thing. The actual wig is a pale blue. At least, that’s what I’m hoping, because it’s still… not… here. I’m putting the white rooster feathers in at the crown of the wig to give the illusion of a gradient from white to pale blue to dark blue. Half of the ostrich feathers will be trimmed off, then they will be steamed and slightly curled, and then the tips will be dyed a pale blue to match the body of the wig. The longer dark blue rooster feathers will be going into the bottom of the wig, which will also be dyed a darker blue to make the transition from pale blue wig fiber to dark blue feather smoother.

As for Arumat, I’m planning on being so frustrated with the chain fringe on Kuja’s jacket that I’m going to start with that burned/distressed/I don’t even know what happened skirt of his. Yay cosplay!









My Very Very Late NDK Post

Because I was in the middle of a production (more on that later), I only went to NDK for one day this year. I kind of sort of put Subaru together enough so that he could be worn, on Thursday night I packed him, and then I drove up after midnight on Friday and woke up my friends and crashed in their hotel room, and then woke them all up again the next morning because I’m just that good of a friend.

My Kamui and I left, and ten minutes later, we got super angry texts because we forgot to eat breakfast, which we ignored until after the cosplay/J-Rock makeup panel. We went to Wendy’s, because nothing says classy like Wendy’s. Note: this goes against everything I say about how cosplayers should eat during conventions.

I spent half of Saturday falling asleep on people (mostly Kamui.) It started off as a joke from Tokyo Revelations, since Subaru spends the whole time in Sleeping Beauty land, but I was so exhausted from my week that I couldn’t help myself.

We met up with another Tsubasa-cosplaying friend, a Fai, that my Kamui had met during college orientation, for the photoshoot. Apparently three minutes makes the difference between making and missing a scheduled Tsubasa photoshoot at NDK, because the same thing happened to me two years ago when I was Fai. But we had photoshoot part two against a super-attractive red wall.

I might or might not have actually woken up and completely taken control of the photoshoot because the girl who I thought was running the photoshoot seemed really meek (or NDK was just really loud.) Turns out none of us have any idea who that was, but thankfully Fai-cosplaying friend also took photos.

Then we went back and I did some first cosplay prejudging and contest coaching because… it was my Kamui’s first cosplay contest! After she changed into her Sandplay Luka we went out into the hall, confused the cleaning ladies, and practiced presentation and we went through a mock pre-judging interview, told her what to focus on,  told her what to bring up in case the judges got distracted by shinies, and off we went.

Long cosplay contest line and even longer cosplay contest later, she got bumped up into Intermediate and won Best Craftsmanship!

And that’s about it. I did not get crept on by any Seishirou cosplayers (do those even exist?) and I totally failed at meeting up with everyone that I usually only see at conventions. Pics soon!