Dressed to thrill: 9 cosplayers show off what they would have worn to summer's canceled cons
Street style takes on a whole new meaning on the floor of a con — and not even a pandemic can slow down these geek-chic superfans.
Follow at: @cosplay.doctor
Character: Tia Dalma, Pirates of the Caribbean Location: Dallas
“My sewing capabilities are not that great,” admits "Dr. Cosplay," whose favorite approach to costuming is finding, adapting, and repurposing existing pieces rather than building from scratch. “But what’s really nice about Tia Dalma is that it’s not a very perfect-looking cosplay; it’s very rugged.” The outfit itself, which she had planned to debut at Fan Expo Dallas, came together fairly quickly, but the makeup took a few practice rounds. “I actually plan on trying it again,” says the cosplayer, who is currently doing her residency in psychiatry. “It’s been a very long time since I’ve worn makeup!”
Jerry Pringle, Cree Michelle Rogers, and Aaron Pringle
Follow at: @usualrangers5
Characters: X-Men Bishop, Storm, and Synch
Location: Savannah, Ga.
"I swear, Storm is Marvel's Barbie doll and they just love dressing her up," says Rogers (@brown.suga.outlaw), an actress. "I've always wanted to cosplay every single outfit that Storm has. I couldn't resist doing Storm in a ponytail."
"We love to bring attention to characters of color,” says Rogers of the six-person group, who often cosplay as the Power Rangers and had been wanting to try Black X-Men. “I want whatever little girl out there that's like me when I was younger to know that it's okay to be you. It's okay to dress weird and to be a nerd. There's not a box of what it means to be you.”
Follow at: @alexandriathegeek
Character: Ruffnut, How to Train Your Dragon 3
Location: Redding, Calif.
“I generally choose characters [who] are not the main focus,” Waurig says. “They have so many design elements that people tend to overlook.” For Ruffnut, that included an elaborate double braid (Waurig’s first foray into wig work, which took three attempts); her clawed boots, which took about half of the 600 hours she put into the costume; and armor made of re-created dragon scales. “Her whole outfit is representative of the dragon that she rides,” Waurig, a pharmacist, explains. “Each component was specifically made with her dragon in mind.”
Follow at: @let.the.devil.out.cosplay
Character: Batman, Justice League
Hume and his own Wonder Woman, girlfriend Jennifer Zaayer, work with Heroes Alliance, a nonprofit of volunteers who appear in costume at children’s hospitals and charity events — a surprisingly tough crowd. “Those kids will call you out!” Zaayer (@dangerangelcosplay), an attorney, says. “If you can get a kid to buy in that you are Batman or you are Wonder Woman, it’s awesome.”
This costume — for which Zaayer built the armor, Hume made the undersuit, and a friend contributed the cowl — came together in quarantine at first as a project to maintain sanity. It turned out better than either of them expected, but still, "it will probably not have a big debut," Zaayer says. "It may just be something we take upon ourselves and decide to do a walk around. Kids in [the area] just might see Batman walking around." That's the vigilante spirit!
Kathia Floreska Rodriguez
Follow at: @misstaurus.cosplay_and_art
Characters: Evil Cetrion, Mortal Kombat
Location: Orlando, Fla.
Rodriguez had planned to debut two Mortal Kombat characters (Evil Cetrion, pictured, and Sindel) at MegaCon in June. The “organic” look and “fire elements” of the Evil Cetrion costume, which took her six months to design and build, sparked Rodriguez’s interest — but were an enormous challenge to re-create convincingly. “In the game it looks different, but how about in reality?” she says. “How would you interpret it? I did painting technique research to make it realistic-looking — [and] adding LEDs was a very interesting project!”
Oversize props are a specialty of Driscoll’s, but she had never built anything like these spinning axes, which swing open and closed and took more than 70 hours (out of 191 total for the whole costume) to create. “I spent a lot of time prototyping those,” says Driscoll, a software developer. “They have a lot of engineering and movement in them. I wanted them to work as well as look beautiful.”
Despite having to miss all of this year's cons, Driscoll is still inspired by the cosplay community, even in quarantine: "I think that cosplayers have really shown, through everything, how hard they're willing to go to keep creating, whether that's teaming up for an online show, or collecting resources to educate people, or making masks — I mean, every cosplayer I know made face masks," she says. "I think that's amazing that, as a community, we're still going on. Like, being at home will not shut down my art."
Follow at: @vraskaacosplay
Characters: Demon hunter, World of Warcraft
Location: Austin, Texas
“If it has armor and it’s not a good person, then I’m probably making it,” jokes Rich, who had been set to compete for the U.S. with this costume at Polymanga in Switzerland this spring. Inspired by a piece of fan art, it made use of all of Rich’s skills with stilts, foam, and latex, while also challenging them to build their own chain mail and “making a silicone prosthetic after having to do a life cast of my own face,” they say. “I like that combination of having some things to work on in a project that I know I can do and something that I'm just dipping my toe into.” But the fun (and the challenge) doesn’t end there: “I really do enjoy being in costume. You feel so empowered — even if it really hurts,” Rich says. “Beauty is pain!”