time completed: Mid February 2012
hours spent: 80+
worn at: Katsucon 2012
Why I chose to make this costume:
I had already cosplayed the Wizard once and really love the style and grace of this character. This newer design compelled to me for the intricacy of details, mermaid silhouette, and creme/black color scheme.
I decided early on to make some artistic changes to this design, because I did not like the open stomach and hip exposure. Such design aspect may look nice on paper or rendered on a digital figure, but on a real person the skin exposure would have contradicted the elegant sophisticated overall design of this outfit. I wanted to make this costume look regal and opulent, not show off my belly button and hip flesh.
How I made this costume:
Whenever I choose to make changes to a design, I try to be very respectful of the original designer and translate their vision to a real life version of the character. In the case of the Wizard, I chose extravagant fabrics and trims, and spared no cost on the materials. I used the most expensive fabric on my record on this costume: $100 per yard. Even the black satin serving as the skirt base was a heavy bridal satin. The creme fabric was exquisite and I couldn't have been happier with it.
I drafted my own patterns and created a steel boned corset, over which a lot of details were hand stitched on. I designed and made a center applique piece in place of the open belly and matching bra cups, all embroidered free-hand on my sewing machine. Just pinning on the trims and deciding placement of each took a good day, and I had to keep walking away from it, coming back, trying it on etc.
Over the corset went a bolero with those weird sleeves. I searched all over for a pleated chiffon and found a semi-sheer pleat at fabric.com finally for the sleeve petals. They were carefully measured (MATH!), cut out and fray checked, and sewn together into sleeves. I beaded glass crystals to each petal tip as well.
The skirt was a fun challenge because it's an exaggerated mermaid shape with multiple tiers. I made an underskirt with a tulle petticoat (hate sewing tulle...), and underneath that I built a hoopskirt from the ground to my knees. Again, a lot of math was used to figure out the right length, diameters etc. of this set up and I had to take into account the 7 inch heels I would have to wear in order to emulate the character design's torso to legs ratio. Anyway, a lot of time later, I had an underskirt and it was time to create the tiers on the overskirt. The bottom black tier is the satin, and I made a circle skirt and the biggest applique set I ever - the snakes. Each applique is heat-n-bonded on, then satin stitched over. The larger twin snakes have an overlay of metallic net as well. I ran out of time to embellish the snakes, was going to bead on them and add crystals as well.
The next tier is my awesome creme fabric, with the gorgeous scalloped edges. Over that went a black fishnet fabric that is heavily embroidered, beaded and sequined. I encased the edge in a binding to give it a finished look. My tiers are a little different from the original sketch, but I'd like to think I kept to the feel of the character while adding some interesting textures and details to the skirt, to match all the stuff that was going on with the corset/sleeves.
I used the same embroidered fishnet to create the under sleeves to again have some of the same reoccurring materials in the top as well as bottom of the costume.
Oh, and for the first time ever I made a bib lol. I mean, what else would you call that rounded collar thing? I was skeptical of the thing the entire time I was sewing it, but with the bolero on it looks nice and finished.
Now onto the rubber snakes on the skirt. They were a focal point in the design and I felt it needed to be accurate, in order for people to recognize this character. So I spent hours sculpting 2 mirroring snake designs out of clay, as well as a matching center piece for the top of the corset with the harlequin face on it. I then made a silicone mold and dusted it with opalescent powder, and cast the whole thing out of urethane rubber. It's an expensive process, over $150 just in materials for the mold and cast, and special urethane adhesive to attach them to my skirt. I think the finished pieces turned out great though, and give the skirt the needed dimensions.
The hat was the last piece I made. God knows why it covers her left eye. I made a pattern, then 3 bases in different sizes in Wonderflex, and covered them in matching fabrics. The hat inside is finished with a felt backing, and I hand stitched various trims on for detailing. I found creme Ostrich feathers and added white and black feathers to them to make a bouquet, which was then attached to the hat as well.
The hair style is created by pinning my Wizard wig from the other costume on my head and blending my own hair into it.
My thoughts on this costume:
There you have it, phew. Sorry for the wall of text. It was a fun and creative process to make this costume because I took artistic liberties while sticking to the fundamentals of the character design. I loved working with the beautiful fabrics and thank all my photographers friends for taking pictures of me at Katsucon. Walking in a giant mermaid skirt + 7 inch heels was challenging, and it didn't help that I was full on sick with a horrid cold that entire day. Because of the Cosplay Guest duties I took on at Katsucon, I ended up staying in this Wizard costume for 13 hours, which in hindsight was a bit irresponsible. But the outfit was well received and it was a great experience to Emcee the World Cosplay Summit while wearing it. I have no regrets!!
Photos by Anna Fisher, Gerardo J. Flores, Joseph Chi Lin, Judith Stephens and JLinto