While searching for parts of my costume, I came across a cosplayer who had already done an amazing Amberle costume! With such a great costume and a striking resemblance to the character, we had to get an interview with her.
What is your favorite part of making a costume? (For example, getting to play the character in real life, showing off your talents as a costume designer, etc.)
My favorite part of making the costume is about bringing life to a character as accurately as possible (which is why I try to cosplay characters that look similar to me) and watch other people getting excited about their favorite movie or TV show character appearing in front of their very eyes live at conventions or events or in the elaborate photoshoots I have and post on social media. I once cosplayed Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games movies and was confused as Jennifer Lawrence – the movie fans got so excited about meeting ‘her’ and were just so happy and cute about it that it really made my day! Seeing that kind of excitement or happiness on people’s faces when I bring to life a character or role-model for them really lights up my day and is definitely my favorite part of making the costume. It’s really about getting my character to come alive, through a combination of elaborate makeup and a love and attention for detail in all my costumes and seeing the happiness and excitement in people’s faces at getting to see them brought to life.
Are there any aspects of costume making that you find frustrating or difficult?
I find patterning and sewing incredibly difficult and I can’t really do it professionally, which is why all the costumes I sew (or even armor I craft) I try to use a variety of techniques to get the patterning and fitting done (via duct tape patterning or I pin the fabric straight onto the doll and arrange it like couturiers) or I try to find clothes that look similar and then alter them to the original. For example, my Amberle costume includes a corset from the show. I have never made a corset and don’t know how to make them (incredibly complicated, fussy things!). Leather is also incredibly expensive so what I did was go through a secondhand online clothing marketplace and looked for a tight ‘leather dress’ in my size (found one for just 9 bucks!). I found a very basic one and cut the sleeves and neck part of it, cut the torso to size and the back open. I altered that leather dress and turned it into a corset. The remaining leather from that dress I used to make the neckpiece of Amberle. Necessity is the mother of all invention. 😉 So even when the sewing or patterning gets tough and is the most difficult part for me, as long as I keep an open mind and try to be creative with my resources I can overcome that.
Other bits I find really difficult are in the detail work, like embroidering or sewing on little details and one really needs patience for that (like the white stripes on Amberle’s corset).
Beyond this costume, what is your favorite costume that you have made?
Oh that is incredibly difficult to answer! I truly love all my costumes because so much work and love went into them!
I love the costumes I made for my OC Character, the Mirkwood Elf ‘Arien Carnemirill’ because I deeply love the elves and all of Tolkien’s works. Their costumes are a pleasure to make and one feels enchanting, wise, and regal in them.
Two of my favorite all-time costumes (because all of the time and effort and difficulty that went into making them) would be my Wonderwoman Costume from the upcoming movie with Gal Gadot. It was my first foam-smithing experience and so incredibly difficult to craft the foam corset and the armour on the legs and arms. So many parts had to come together and the armor had to be easy to move in as well as robust. It turned out very screen accurate and I absolutely love it!
Another fave is obviously my Amberle costume because it’s practical (even used it in Larp), my most screen-accurate and detailed costume to date and I feel badass walking around in it. 🙂
What do you think is the most important way to help make your costume “pop” and grab the viewer’s attention?
Giant wings! 😛 That always works for cosplayers! Just kidding. It doesn’t have to be the most opulent, gigantic and colorful costume to pop and get attention, or the most scantily clad one (it does work, but believe me you don’t want that kind of attention). Understated costumes, like the ones I make, can really pop if you really work on getting them as screen accurate as possible and work on finding a character you can closely resemble. I truly aim at cosplaying people who have a similar build, facial structure and height to myself and because I look so much like the real thing my costumes pop, no matter how understated or classy I am, my cosplay attract people and get their attention. I was asked if my Amberle costume was the real deal because it was so screen accurate and I was thrilled to hear that and my Katniss costume was not the most accurate but because I chose to cosplay someone I look like, it popped and garnered so much attention! But even if you don’t look like someone putting in the work to get the makeup perfect and the right wig can go a long way. I look nothing in real life like Arielle the little Mermaid but my costume really popped because all the details of the costume looked straight like out of the movie (from the mermaid tail I rented out on WISHRENT to the wig and the bra and the makeup). So put in the effort and work out the details of your costumes, strive for good craftsmanship! 🙂
Where do you go when you need help for a costume? Do you have a group of costuming friends to bounce ideas off of? A website you frequent often?
There are several cosplayers I follow whose work I admire and follow who post WIP photos for their costumes (these can help a lot in the technical construction process sometimes, like patterning or how to attach certain things) 😛 Mostly I use a combination of Google to find reference photos for my character, I also google the cosplay I want to do and look at what work has been done on it before. I then try to either learn from what has been done before and implement it and often I try to improve on it. Google is your friend. Deviantart is also an excellent resource. PINTEREST is one of my absolute favorites in finding references. Aminoapps is great if you need to ask for help and there are a myriad of cosplay Facebook groups where you can ask for help.
What I often do when I need help is to ask my fans. On my official Facebook page I often ask people about their ideas and opinions and get the kind of feedback I like.
Where are your favorite places to shop for costume pieces, fabric, etc.?
I am the most random person in the world regarding where I shop. I have no favorite place. I use a mix of offline shopping (from dept stores carrying fabric to secondhand places, the dollar store/euroshop) to online shopping (Ebay, Amazon, Alibaba and secondhand marketplaces) and anything in between to shop for costumes. Sometimes I don’t even need to buy costumes or costume pieces because I can rent them out on WISHRENT.com. It’s a cosplay marketplace platform where anyone can rent out their own costumes and props or buy and borrow them around the world. My Arwen costume I will borrow from there as well as my Belle from Beauty and the Beast (in the past I have borrowed my Ariel Swim tail from there). It’s a truly great platform and anyone can offer up their things, whether professional costume makers or designers or amateur cosplayers!
What drew you to make an Amberle costume? Was it the character herself, the look of her costume, or just a small prop/accessory that inspired you?
It was a combination of the character herself and the costume that inspired me to make the Amberle costume (although if I am really honest, my friend showed me a picture of the character and told me I look exactly like her and have to cosplay her!) So I decided to watch the show and fell in love with the character after that (I deeply love Elves) and she is just so courageous and refreshing. I also really loved the design of her costume (functional, badass, not too revealing and yet sexy!)
Do you feel that MTV’s vision of the Shannara chronicles truly captured the essence of the character in their costume design? Would you have done anything differently?
I think that MTV did an excellent job with their costume design, particularly with the Elves (the human costumes I didn’t find so memorable to be honest, though). They really managed to capture post-apocalyptic ‘elvishness’ in a wonderful way by making the costumes reflect elegance, practicality, a sense of the mystical, but also something quite dangerous. Elegant and dangerous.
Please describe the main pieces of your costume and how you made them.
The main pieces of my costume consist of a corset, a neckpiece, one shoulder armor, a waste belt, leather pants, a clawed arm cuff, gloves and a leather vambrace.
Corset: I made the corset of an old leather dress I bought at a secondhand marketplace online for just 9 bucks. I cut away the sleeves and the upper part of the dress, cut open the back, sewed the whole thing up to make hems, added grommets in the back for the corset and then painted the whole thing a dark burgundy red (original colour was black) to reflect Amberle’s costume. I then added the white detailing on the corset by cutting out white sewing elastics, painting them a light greyish white and then sewing them onto to corset with a brown coloured zigzag stitch. Voila, done!
Neckpiece: I made from the rest of the leather fabric I had leftover for the dress. I don’t have a formula on how to make that. It was essentially a lot of trial and error to cut the pieces correctly and pinning them onto myself and my sewing puppet. I attached old thin belts to it in the back to keep it together and I closed up the top part with buttons.
Pants: I bought fake tight leather pants in black that looked very realistic and had zippers on the front from the mall. I took the pants and painted the frontal half of the pants a burgundy red with my leather paint and the back I left black (as in the Shannara Chronicles show). I covered up the zippers by cutting out pieces of leather fabric in a slight leaf shape and sewing them over the ugly zippers, hiding them.
Shoulder part: I made of Worbla, a lot of trial and error. I fixated it to myself using a lot of fake leather belts in the back strategically sewn together with clips and buttons. Hard to explain, a lot of trial and error.
Boots: I bought at the local outlet. 🙂
Clawed Armcuff: The claws I made from a combination of Worbla’s black art, wire and hot glue. 🙂 I lightly dusted it with some acrylic silver paint and kept the weathering look of it.
Wastebelt: I made from scratch from old pleather and an old belt, I had no technique, just used the reference photos.
Gloves: I had these really cool, fingerless biker gloves I bought a few years ago when I was trying out different fashions and they worked perfectly! I cut away at them and strategically added bits of leather to replicate the look.
Leather arm cuff: An old piece of leather I cut to shape, painted and then placed around my forearm. Added grommets, put in lacing and done!
What was the hardest part of her costume to recreate?
The hardest part of the costume to recreate was definitely the corset and shoulder armor. The corset was hard to make because I had never altered an old dress into a corset before and it was a painful trial and error process. The detailing also took ages. The shoulder armor was a real pain because it was difficult finding a way to attach it to my shoulder without it sliding off and without having to attach it to the rest of the costume.
What was the most fun piece of her costume to recreate?
I had the most fun creating the claw cuffs and the shoulder armour because it involved a lot of work molding and shaping Worbla (which I love doing) 🙂
Do you have any helpful tips for someone else creating a similar costume?
Good high resolution reference photos and a good sewing dummy you can use to pin your fabric straight onto it, will go a long way to help you make a costume for which no patterns exist. Try perusing secondhand stores, think in a lazy and thrifty way and you will come up with ingenious ways to alter and modify and reuse what exists out there. This costume was mostly altering and modifying existing clothes! Learn to do that and it will turn out to be a wonderful costume. 🙂
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