#GeekGirlCon15: Q&A With Cosplayers Who Will Inspire You

Lyra & Kelli as Angie Martinelli & Peggy Carter from Agent Carter

Last month, inclusive-minded fans attended GeekGirlCon, a convention based in Seattle that aims to showcase women’s contributions to fandom while fostering safe spaces for geeks from all backgrounds.

In the spirit of FemHype’s mission to raise awareness about diverse fans whose voices aren’t heard as much as others, I reached out to some cosplayers whose fantastic costumes may have slipped under your radar. Here are their thoughts on their costumes and the cosplay community as a whole!

Anne as Agent Scully from The X-Files
Anne as Agent Scully from The X-Files

Melissa: Why did you cosplay this character?

Anne: I didn’t actually grow up watching The X-Files (I was a little young), but it was always sort of there in my peripheral. The entire run is on Netflix now, so I started watching it, expecting it to be great (if a little goofy, maybe—the ’90s, after all). Not sure I was expecting to love the character this much. Half a season in, I was already pondering Goodwill trips and shoulder pads to try to capture just a little bit of the Scully-ness for myself.

Melissa: What part of the costume are you most proud of?

Anne: Hm. Well, the entire outfit is Goodwill or I already had on hand … so I suppose my Goodwill skills? I put the costume itself together in, oh, a few days. So that, probably. Or the hair, haha. That’s my real hair—and close to my usual haircut. I just had it trimmed so that it was perfect (though, also, it’s nice to have a costume where you don’t have to wear a wig …) and figured out how to style it all ’90s, which was actually a fun new skill to learn.

Melissa: Do you have a message for the cosplay community?

Anne: YOU ALL LOOK AMAZING. I don’t care if it’s your first costume ever, you think x detail isn’t right, or you’re sure of all of your details and have been cosplaying for years. You’re amazing for having this wacky notion that hey, I could be my favorite character and going through with it. Cosplay is a sign that we care about the character and the fandom, and that’s a beautiful thing.

FemHype’s own Ashley Lynn as Ezia, her reimagining of Ezio from Assassin’s Creed II

Melissa: Why did you cosplay this character?

Ashley: So, funny story—this cosplay was originally supposed to be a Lolita redesign! I was so happy with the response that I had received from my Lolita Link design that I moved my cosplay in that direction for a while until I saw the Assassin’s Creed: Unity trailer and all the horrible PR that came after it.

Something that I didn’t mention in my article was that I was originally looking into researching cross-dressing women throughout history for my Honors project. Sarah Emma Edmonds is my favorite historical figure, and I find women such as Catalina de Erauso and Mary Read absolutely fascinating. The whole AC: Unity incident made me take a second look at my cosplay and my research. This second look brought up an opportunity that was too interesting to pass up. Ezio is the biggest name in the franchise with the most complete character development. A redesign of him versus, say, Edward Kenway would be more recognizable because of Ezio’s popularity. So I decided to cosplay as Ezia because I loved the series and wanted to challenge my costume construction skills, I was upset with the institutional level of sexism both in gaming and our American education system, and I really wanted to make a statement.

Melissa: What part of the costume are you most proud of?

Ashley: Oh wow, I have multiple answers for this. I’m actually really proud of the functionality of the design. My biggest concern was that I would lose a huge amount of movement due to the restrictive nature of women’s dress throughout history. In the late 15th century, women tied their sleeves to their bodices, and stays (the precursor to the corset) hadn’t quite made their debut in fashion yet. One of the many reasons why I chose to make Ezia a courtesan was because they were allowed to appear more androgynous and show more skin in public. It provided the justification I needed to not make a full restrictive skirt. Instead, I decided to add more fullness and lower the tails of her robes to give her the essence of femininity without restricting her abilities as an assassin. The finished costume fit so well that I could move my arms in any direction I wanted and do a front shoulder roll without worrying about any piece breaking or falling off.

The physical piece that I’m most proud of has to be a tie between the belt buckle and the embroidery. The belt buckle is actually just some InstaMorph cleverly molded using a process commonly used in makeup prosthetics with four smaller buckles attached. The embroidery took me 60 hours, and I punched it out in the last month I had to finish the costume. I was literally stitching eagles on my costume pieces in an airplane while I was flying to and from home for spring break.

Melissa: Do you have a message to the cosplay community?

Ashley: Find your passion and reason for cosplay, and let that drive you. Cosplay is not easy, and I’m honestly amazed by everyone who has the courage and willpower to take on a costume and present it in a space where they are subject to other people’s opinions. Keep going, everyone. You’re all amazing!

Kelli as Peggy Carter from Agent Carter

Melissa: Why did you cosplay this character?

Lyra: There were quite a few wonderful female characters to choose from in Agent Carter, and I ended up choosing Angie because her optimism and just general peppiness is very much unlike my usual character choices, and sometimes it is refreshing to do something different. I have to admit I fell in love with Angie as a character during the scene where she is teaching Peggy how to steal food during communal dinners, and the fact that Kelli felt so strongly about Peggy meant I could be part of a matched set, so to speak.

Kelli: I fell in love with Peggy Carter the moment she punched Hodge in the face in The First Avenger, and as the character developed, I’ve grown to love her even more. She has this amazing balance of inner (and outer) strength, kindness, and justice. That’s a really tricky balance to find in real life, and it’s something that’s really nice to have a role model for, even if she is fictional. The fact that Peggy balances more traditionally feminine traits with being really good at her job is also something I’ve had to work on in my real life. I like pretty clothes and makeup and I cry when I’m feeling awful, but I can also be smart and strong and speak with authority. The two sides of me aren’t mutually exclusive. Also, the fact that I’ve always been a huge fan of 1940s clothing definitely didn’t hurt my decision to choose her.

Lyra as Angie Martinelli from Agent Carter

Melissa: What part of the costume are you most proud of?

Lyra: It’s a tiny thing to be proud of, but I have to say that I’m most proud of the uniform cap. The rest of the costume I had a pretty good idea of how to achieve it. I had patterns to alter and mockups made, but I didn’t really have a good idea for how to do the hat. It took a few tries, just from studying the high-resolution promo stills to sketching a pattern and fussing with different weights of fusible interfacing and such, but when I finally got a cap that stood up on its own and could attach to the wig, I was thrilled.

Kelli: I think I’m proudest of how many screen-accurate details I’ve gotten in. The casual observer probably can’t tell that I have the same lipstick, perfume, and nail polish Hayley identified as Peggy’s, but it makes a difference in how I carry myself when I’m in cosplay. (Plus, it’s fun!) I have plans to get the hat and remake the suit in more screen-accurate material at some point. And maybe I’ll figure out how to make the screen-accurate shoes more comfortable …

Melissa: Do you have a message to the cosplay community?

Lyra: I just hope each and every cosplayer finds That Cosplay, that one costume that makes them feel amazing, that one character that they click and identify with and aspire to, because everyone deserves to have a Patronus, a cosplay that is the cosplay they think of when they think of how this hobby makes them feel amazing, that one costume that makes all the 3 AM crying at the sewing machine worth it.

KelliPick characters that make you feel good about yourself. It can be as simple as “I feel pretty in this dress” or as complex as all the various ways a character can resonate emotionally. Mostly, remember that it’s supposed to be fun! I think we can all lose sight of that at some point, whether it’s the 3 AM crying Lyra mentioned, or that feeling we all get when we see other people cosplaying the same character. There will always be someone better at the technical details than you, but if you’re having fun, you’re a winner no matter what.

Costama Cosplay as Neo from RWBY

Melissa: Why did you cosplay this character?

Costama: When I saw Neo’s first appearance in RWBY, I fell in love with her design. I’m a big fan of the color pink.

I made Elsa’s coronation dress last year and loved being a princess. The way kids looked at me, the way I could make them smile so instantaneously—I work with kids daily and I love them a lot. Unfortunately, Elsa is a 200+ hour costume with a lot of hand embroidery and an eleven foot long cape, so I was constantly paranoid that something would get ruined. One $135 impulse buy later, I had a Belle ballgown. Now I have the best of both worlds!

Melissa: What part of the costume are you most proud of?

Costama: I love my Neo coat! I made it in about three days and it’s really fun to flip around like a cape.

I didn’t do much for Belle! The dress is from Cosrea, and the wig was styled in about an hour the night before con. I do have a fake, hollowed out book that doubles as my purse, though. I love that thing.

Melissa: Do you have a message to the cosplay community?

Costama: I love you guys. In the five years I’ve been in this community, it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience. I cherish all the friends I’ve made because of cosplay and can’t wait to make even more. If you ever see me, come and talk!

Avalyn Cosplay as Rose from Street Fighter

Melissa: Why did you cosplay this character?

Avalyn: Rose is a character from Capcom’s Street Fighter game. I made my Rose costume because my friend Kristina wanted to cosplay for the first time and be her childhood hero, Chun-Li from Street Fighter. So we had this great idea to do a whole Street Fighter cosplay group for the Penny Arcade Expo this year. I made three costumes: Chun-Li for my friend, Sakura for my 2-year-old daughter (LittleLolo), and Rose for myself. We reprised our Chun-Li and Rose costumes at GeekGirlCon.

Melissa: What part of the costume are you the most proud of?

Avalyn: I am proud of how much I accomplished in so little time. I was eight months pregnant when I started the Street Fighter cosplay project and had to wait until after I had the baby to make my Rose costume so that I could fit it properly to my postpartum measurements. This costume was completed in about 17 hours over a period of 2 to 3 weeks, while being a full-time mom to a newborn and a toddler. I am not really sure how I got it done, but I did!

LittleLolo (daughter of Avalyn Cosplay) as Thor from The Avengers

Melissa: Why did you cosplay this character?

LittleLolo: *sips milk*

Mommy’s Translation: Is Thor your favorite Avenger? Who is your favorite Avenger? *shows picture of the Avengers*

LittleLolo: *points at Captain America* Uncle Mikey! [Her Uncle Mikey is Captain Cosplay, a Captain America cosplayer in New York.]

Mommy’s Translation: Which Avenger do you want to be?

LittleLolo: Thor!

Mommy’s Translation: She did not want to wear her Sakura (Street Fighter) costume, and it was a little too cold and rainy to wear short sleeves that day. But she was happy to be Thor instead! I originally made her the Thor costume so she could be an Avenger like her Uncle Mikey, and the new Thor comic (with Jane Foster as Thor) had just come out. Black Widow doesn’t translate well into a toddler costume, and Thor gets a fun prop, so Thor it was. The first time she picked up the hammer she started singing Elmo’s “Hammer Hammer Hammer!” song from Sesame Street.

Melissa: What part of the costume are you most proud of?

Mommy’s Translation: What is your favorite part of the costume? The shirt, the skirt, the cape, or the hammer?

LittleLolo: The cape!

Mommy’s Translation: She does love her capes. Whenever she puts one on she runs around the house pretending to fly. I am pretty proud about how the cape attaches to the shirt so it can be easily removed to get the shirt on and off. I made the iconic circle shoulder armor pieces by capping a giant button with a molded piece of Worbla (thermoplastic). The cape attaches with elastic loops slipped over the giant buttons, then hooked onto smaller buttons hidden underneath so that the cape is pulled up high enough to conceal the elastic.

Melissa: Do you have a message to the cosplay community?

LittleLolo: No. *sips milk* Go sing!

Mommy’s Translation: I would like to tell other cosplay parents to make sure and consider your child’s comfort first when you are designing and making a costume for them. If it goes on like normal clothes and is light and comfortable, your kid will be more inclined to put it on and wear it all day! It’s okay to sacrifice accuracy for comfort. Also, be prepared to carry all of their props ninety percent of the time.

Thanks again to the cosplayers who took the time out of their day to answer my questions! I can’t wait to see next year’s round of costumes, and as LittleLolo says, “Go sing,” indeed.


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