Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Of Goblin Kings and Closet Cosplays

So at present, I'm not actively working on any cosplays. I'm in the planning stages for Jae-ha from Akatsuki no Yona, but I haven't selected a fabric yet.

I have repairs to do to several cosplays as Otakon hit them pretty hard (how, I'm not sure, but it did), but I honestly haven't had a day where I went "Yep, time to do all the repairs!" quite yet. It's coming, I know it is. And when it comes, I'll have a zipper to take out and replace, several sloppily done stitches to re-sew, and a lot of snaps to sew on. Oh, snaps. How I simultaneously loathe and love thee, for thy usefulness is great, but thy attachment is tiresome. However, this is an excellent opportunity to talk about things I've learned from already accomplished cosplays! For this week's blog, I'm going to talk about my first cosplay: Jareth from Labyrinth.

When I decided to cosplay Jareth of Labyrinth, I had no clue how to even sew on a button. I kid you not, I knew NOTHING. As a born and raised farm girl and only child, most of my childhood "labor" was spent on the farm. Mom didn't teach me much about cooking because Dad already had me out putting up fence, or digging holes, or moving lumber. I have the biceps to show for all that work too. Only girl I know personally with visible biceps. Regardless of my lovely muscles and experience with manual labor, I had next to none on anything domestic, including sewing. I also didn't know the first thing about wigs, or much about makeup. I hadn't worn makeup regularly since high school, and even then it was kind of....something I did on occasion because I felt ugly, or like all the other girls in the class were prettier than me. (True story, there were only six girls in my graduating class including me. Sooooo statistically speaking they all could have been prettier than me. Hindsight? Some knew how to flatter their own features better than others, and that was about it.) I knew nothing at this point about stage makeup, or makeup for cosplay. Jareth started out as an idea of something to wear for Halloween. I'd never been to an anime convention and barely knew what one was, so Halloween was my only big occasion to dress up. Additionally, I hated most of the female costume options for Halloween. Girls were (and are) expected to dress "sexy" for Halloween and other such holidays, in skimpy, revealing outfits that highlight their desirability as a sexual partner. I have attracted more than enough of that kind of attention without wearing anything revealing and didn't particularly want to increase that sort of interest in me. As I saw it then, my options were slutty, or guy. I chose guy. At the time, I had just discovered my love for Labyrinth (my freshman year roommate can tell you, I was in LOVE with Jareth and the whole film), so who better to cosplay than the Goblin King himself?

And here he is, in all his fabulous, glittery glory - the Goblin King himself (portrayed by David Bowie, of course)! His outfit is fairly simple in this scene, and this is the outfit I chose.

When I made the decision to cosplay Jareth, I searched my closet for what I already had on hand. As it so happened, I had a black vest lying around which I figured would work, and I also had a pair of gray leggings. It was seeing these two items in my wardrobe (and being guaranteed to have a pair of black boots, because I ADORE boots of all descriptions and collect them like a little hoarder) that inspired me to do this cosplay, because otherwise I honestly would have been intimidated by it. I had a limited budget and no job at the time, so I needed to be cost-effective, and I definitely needed things already made since I knew nothing of how to make them myself. I laid out what I had on hand to wear for the cosplay and came up missing a wig, gloves, and the white shirt. The wig was not too hard, since I wasn't going for perfect. I visited and ordered a blonde mullet wig which looked to be about the right color. In person it was a little too bright of a blonde, but it sufficed. Next came the gloves, which I ordered off ebay. They're a beautiful pair of black leather gloves, and they're very comfy and snug-fitting. Finally, the shirt. I still remember scouring department store after department store, searching for a shirt that would work. I wanted something terribly frilly - obnoxiously so - and that was rather hard to find, considering most people have at least a modicum of taste. I found my final shirt choice less than a week before that Halloween, and I borrowed the makeup I wore from a friend. (Back then I had an itty-bitty makeup collection. I had maybe two little color palettes. That was IT.) One of my friends took a whole bunch of pictures with my horrid-quality camera of my thrown-together costume which would never in a million years win any awards, and y'know what? I had a BLAST.

 Nope, things weren't perfect. I still need to style that wig. Those tights? They only came down to mid-calf on me and I had to rely on the boots covering them up enough. My necklace was tiny and barely showed (Jareth's necklace is large and very visible). My makeup was the wrong shade of blue. My shirt wasn't quite right. The vest was too short. The boots didn't have enough of a heel on them. But I had so much fun that Halloween that when the opportunity arose for me to go to Anime USA the following fall, I jumped on it and took this cosplay with me! By then I had a new pair of leggings that fit better and actually came down to my ankles but I'd downgraded to a different pair of boots, and I had my own makeup closer to the proper color. I ran around for all three days of that first con as Jareth, found the only other Jareths at the con and ran amok with them searching for a Sarah, visited a magical place called a host club in costume, and just had an incredible time. All that with a pieced together cosplay which cost me very little and is still worn in pieces as parts of other outfits today.

What I really learned with regards to this cosplay was that not every cosplay has to be a masterpiece. Creating something beautiful, at which you can look back and feel pride, is completely commendable and admirable. But cosplay is first and foremost about fun. If you're not having fun, why are you doing it? I make my costumes primarily from scratch now because that's fun for me. Creating something and knowing that I made it, I put the pieces together and somehow something worth noticing and admiring emerged, gives me a sense of joy and pride. But you can have just as much fun piecing together a closet (or near-closet) cosplay as you can wearing one made by hand or buying one from another person! Remember, PLAY is part of COSPLAY. And it's part of it for a reason.

Next week I'll be talking a little bit about the unique difficulties presented by cosplaying from something live-action rather than animated. I've decreed Wednesdays to be my update days (though we see how well that worked this week, hm......) so stay tuned for the next post then! In the meantime I'll be working on that cosplay page and on the gallery of photos.......

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