- Posted August 26, 2012 by
Raleigh, North Carolina
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Dragon*Con costumes and more
A world of fabric and glue sticks
The last seven years has been quite a journey in my hobby development world. In early high school, I *made* my own first costume with the help of my mother. It was a Princess Leia out of a white turleneck and with a homemade white skirt. She taught me my first steps into using a sewing machine, modifying clothing and making something new. Everyone knew who I was, and I had a blast.
And I just forgot about costumes for several years.
The first year I met my husband, his friend threw a Halloween party and I decided I had to be HawkGirl for it. I thought the result was terrible, but everyone there loved it. I decided then and there that my next costumes had to be *Good* - I wanted it to be right. I wanted better materials and I wanted it to be worth liking. HawkGirl ended up re-launching my love of creation and eventually resulting in my sewing habits taking up the entire guest bedroom of the house we now own together. That's okay, because he's pretty much taken over the garage with his wood working supplies and projects, so it's a fair trade.
My first year at DragonCon, I did not bring any costumes. Really, I didn't have any that I felt could be brought out in public and scrutinized by the best costumers already there.
My husband proposed that year at DragonCon, so my fate was sealed. We would come back to DragonCon every year. He is a well-known GM, and now I show up to walk around in costumes, almost always with friends, and almost always getting stopped for photos.
The second DragonCon trip included only one real costume, my first 'cosplay', the one I still wear and can't seem to leave alone, a character from Zelda: Twilight Princess. The following year, I would buy red-tinted contacts. The next, i remade most of the outfit, hand-dyed a new wig, styled it and this year involved added a portable power supply and LED's. I've experimented with nearly every skin-safe body paint and powder known to man and learned new techniques for not looking like I'm covered in brush strokes.
By the third DragonCon, my husband really wanted me to limit my costumes to one a day.
The following year, I became a member of Rebel Legion and marched in the parade for the first time. Right after that, I started looking into the working side of costuming, and not just the wearing. I have a few commissions under my belt now, and have made a number of things for friends, some in return for pay, some not.
Three years ago, I completely forgot to schedule any time at all with my husband at DragonCon, and that has been rectified. I have a costume schedule, time slotted to spend only with my husband, time for friends, panels i can't miss, and photoshoots. Most years I time out my blood donation schedule so I can give at DragonCon too.
Last year, my friend and I made the CNN b-roll footage that played behind interviews in the studio. Mary was in her Wolf Link fur suit, and had her interview televised. I was my beloved Midna character posing with her. We missed a number of panels last year because we spent more time posing for cameras than seeing things. And that was fine with me.
Last year, I was asked to assist with the Star Wars Costume Contest at DragonCon, as well as the World of Warcraft Costume Contest. Both times I had a blast, meeting new people and getting to know many others behind the scenes of contests. This year, I am a judge in the Whedon-Verse(FireFly, Buffy, Angel, Avengers) costume contest at DragonCon. I was the Costume Director at ConTemporal this past summer, in Chapel Hill, NC. My same friend and I won Best in Show at ConCarolinas 2 years ago, and I judged there this year.
In the past 30 days, I've been ramping up my costumes, finishing some, starting and finishing others and making bits and pieces for friends. This year, I made 5 sets of My Little Pony ears. I have six costumes that I bringing for certain, only one of which is a repeat from last year. The others, a new Rebel Legion costume that I'll be wearing in the parade, three 'My Little Ponies', human versions, my Zelda:Twilight Princess Midna, some Ren Fair garb, as well as my FireFly-inspired outfit with parasol.
My personal rule for costuming is, I generally will not make a costume if there is a version of it commercially available. My current exception is Princess Leia.
My next exception will be Link, also of the Zelda series, and will really be my first true attempt at portraying a male character. My actual *first* male costume was "V" from Vendetta at another Halloween party-same friend- years later. It was a massive hit, even if I didn't wear the mask the whole time. The difference was that I didn't bind my boobs for the outfit, or try to otherwise re-arrange my anatomy for it. It wasn't a cosplay - I wasn't trying to be the character - it was just a fun Halloween costume. For Link, I'll be binding, wear a men's wig, and attempt to change my general posing and posture. With the majority of my female characters, they are either sexy poses, action poses - but always with an awareness that female action shots are always different from males - or another variation that pretty much always emphasizes that I am a female character.
Which leads into the reason I costume. Beyond perfecting a character and portraying them correctly, it's simply fun to be 'on'. Many people don't realize that active costuming and cosplay requires a ton of work, a ton of energy and can be mentally and physically exhausting. You have to be aware of how they would act, how they would pose, and most importantly, what other people expect of the character. This is something that members of Rebel Legion and 501st are extremely aware of, an extra level of energy requirement that goes past simply dressing up.
Sometimes though, it really all just breaks down to the experience of a four-year old girl that squealed "PRINCESS LEIA!!!" at the top of her tiny little lungs and clung to my hips in a fierce hug. Recognition of a character by adults is always fun, of course, but when the kids know you are, you know you've done something right.