Cosplay – you’re doing It wrong!
Have you ever seen ‘sexy cosplay’ and scoffed at it like a bad, untouchable smell? If so, you are doing cosplay wrong and here’s why…
Jeni Mew Cosplay, who is perhaps more well known for her intense detailed craftsmanship than ‘sexy cosplay’ recently added ‘Alexstrasza’ a notoriously recognisable character for skin, to her costume repertoire. What should also be highlighted here are difficult costume elements. She has recently enrolled herself onto a Costume Design & Making degree course (at Nottingham Trent, the Winner of University of the year award!) to continue developing her costume skills – and quite frankly looks beyond incredible as Alexstrasza.
Did you use your cosplay portfolio to apply to Nottingham Trent?
Yes! Because I wasn’t coming straight from education like many other applicants, I was worried I didn’t have the same prep & guidance as they would have had, and Nottingham Trent has a prestigious reputation. So, I got ALL of my costumes out at home and filled a small suitcase with some samples of my best work, I
took some pieces of Alex’s armour, my Harley Quinn bodysuit, Alice, Umbreon, my old graphic design portfolio and a sketch book where I’d got my own designs. I just remember mid interview when I got out the Alice costume the interviewer said she’d seen enough! I think I am most proud of Alice because not only are there some beautiful details in the design and fabric choices; I made it in 6 days! I am honestly so proud to have been accepted and after completing my first project received a high 1st grade, I’ve already learned so much and can’t wait to see what next term holds.
We chatted to Jeni to ask how she put together the Alexstraza costume;
How did you begin to create the costume and what was your material focus?
I started the costume in 2015. I’d completed my first few cosplays that were mostly fabric based, and I wanted to venture into the world of foam armour builds, and being a long time World of Warcraft player, Alexstrasza was a dream character for me. I began with material research and decided on using EVA foam and craft foam as many cosplayers do! I also invested in some Worbla for the pieces that needs a solid finish and wouldn’t work just out of foam. I got myself a resin casting kit to make the gems, something I’d never done before… but with the help of MANY youtube tutorials and a ton of research, I started crafting, and there are loads of work in progress photos on my facebook page if you want to see how it all came together!
What was the hardest part of this costume?
The horns were most challenging to make due to their 3D shape and getting the 2 even. I’d also say that wearing this costume is just as taxing as making it!
How long did it take to complete?
Although I started in 2015, I wasn’t satisfied with the standard of my work, so stepped back and worked on other costumes, such as Heartseeker Ashe, Cottontail Teemo, my Umbreon and Alice designs… Then after several months came back to it, re-made a few pieces, a lot of which I broadcast live on Twitch. I finished it in April 2017 to appear at Insomnia 60!
Top of costume – The horns are expanding foam and craft foam, and the tiara is worbla with resin gems, there are also little foam ‘earrings’ hanging from the horns. I made the cape attach to the shoulder pieces so that all goes on at once.
Middle of costume – The chest armour pieces and gauntlets are mostly foam, the engraved details and battle damage are done with a soldering tool, the claws are worbla attached to fabric gloves, and the ‘panties’ are fabric with vinyl details!
Bottom of costume – The thigh and shin armour pieces are foam, with some worbla detailing, and the shoes were modified with worbla armour pieces, there’s also a pair of purple footless socks underneath everything.
The second part to this actually comes with the physical and mental nature of costuming this character – how did you prepare your body and mind for actually making an appearance as alexstrasza?
I think for me both aspects are as important as the other. To be able to step out in what is by far my most revealing cosplay thus far, I needed to feel comfortable in my own skin and confident in the way I looked. Not something I have been great at in the past! So, for me this meant taking extra care to look after myself in the run up to the event I was going to be wearing it at for the first time. I found paying some attention to physical things like moisturizing regularly, practicing the makeup and wearing the headdress, going on the occasional sun bed, and eating right along with some exercise made me feel mentally ready to be so exposed.
I knew people would likely judge me for wearing it, even though I was just being accurate to someone else’s character design, but having been bullied in the past for the way I look it doesn’t affect me. I even did a little test with a friend at a convention where he walked a few feet behind me in this costume and observed the crowd’s response. I think it was equal measure impressed and disgusted! Sadly, I believe most of the negative responses were from other women, and I’ll take this opportunity to say it’s really important to lift eachother up not put eachother down.
If I’m walking along in killer heels, wearing a costume that takes about 2 hours to get into, took months to make, includes blind contact lenses, a long wig, gloves and claws that mean I can’t really use my hands, it’s a huge shame that all some people can manage is that look of ‘what IS she wearing’.
All that said, it felt amazing to bring the character to life by wearing this costume, and truly become her for a time. Alexstrasza the Life-Binder is the leader of the red dragonflight, and repeating that and remembering the lore behind the character when you’re out there means more than anybody’s looks can. So go be that badass Dragon Aspect you want to be!
In short? Anything you choose to deem ‘Sexy cosplay’ needs to be okay again!
Jeni Mew Cosplay;
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Or maybe you want to read some more cosplay goodness? Check out cosplay is not consent!
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