As the decade draws to a close, I’ve been thinking about my personal cosplay highlights. I had some very productive years and I completed 56 costumes for myself in the last decade (and a total of 96 since I started cosplaying in 2005). Here are the top 10 that have a special place in my heart!
I love these costumes because I’m proud of the craftsmanship involved or my performance in a contest I entered them in. Because I learned new things making these costumes, or perfected existing skills to showcase what I could do at the time. Because I have fond memories of making or wearing them, or because the character means so much to me that portraying them meant the world to me at the time.
Enjoy this cosplay showcase! I’m sure you’ll find a costume you hadn’t seen before, or that you had forgotten about. And I promise you’ll learn something new about me along the way!
1. Violet (2019)
Violet is my most recent costume, and she’s also my absolute favorite at this moment! I’m just so proud of the work that went into this costume. Literally blood, sweat and tears ever since I started working on it in the spring of 2018 when the series hit Netflix and I fell in love with it.
Violet Evergarden is the brutal and heart-breaking story of a former child soldier who tries to come to terms with her past and with her own feelings, or the lack thereof. As a DOLL – an assistant who writes letters for other people who don’t have a way with words – she finds her self-worth and a way to make amends for the horrible things she did in the war.
The story crushed my heart to pieces and put it back together again. Like watching the anime, making the costume was a tough experience! I ended up taking long breaks because I didn’t want to rush it.
I started by making her jacket and figuring out the pattern for the dress. The pleats in the dress and the dark brown appliqué are probably what took me the longest. Lots of hand-sewing, basting and pressing involved in the process!
Violet’s story is set in a turn-of-the-century fantasy world, so I took some inspiration from structured historic dresses and underwear. I’m so happy with the silhouette of the dress and how well it holds up during a long convention day. The wig is another favorite of mine, I went the extra mile to add a back parting and darker roots for a realistic look. I was super nervous about wearing this costume, but I love how it turned out.
Thank you for cheering me on as I shared my progress on FB and Twitter!
2. Cheongsam Sailor Pluto (2018)
Setsuna is my favorite sailor warrior, and I have received so much kind and positive feedback every time I’ve cosplayed as her. This fan art by Taiwanese artist Streamer Fairy is the version I love the most! Kaya’s redesigns are inspired by traditional Chinese fashion and the Art Nouveau style. Graced by floral ornaments, lace and flowing fabrics, these dresses are a cosplayer’s dream!
I was part of a lovely Sailor Moon group at DoKomi in May 2018. The artist saw our WIP and cosplay photos online and she loved it! She commented and shared our photos repeatedly and was super sweet. I really want to cosplay more fan art designs just because of this experience!
For the costume, I got to use techniques that I hadn’t worked with in a while: silk painting, appliqué and heat-transfer vinyl (plotted on my Silhouette Cameo). I enjoyed the process, and I was flattered and moved by the feedback I received. The dress is elaborate but very comfortable to wear, so I’ve brought it to quite a few conventions already.
3. Sheryl Nome (2017)
Macross is one of my favorite anime franchises. I just love the unique mix of hit songs, postapocalyptic sci-fi, mecha action and big dramatic feelings! I have made other, more elaborate Sheryl cosplays like Northern Cross in 2009 and Wings of Goodbye for EuroCosplay in 2012, but Star Date is the one I enjoy wearing the most! It’s so comfortable and instantly recognizable.
I threw the costume together in a few days using fabrics I already had, but I love how it turned out. Great cosplays don’t always have to be big and expensive.
My Sheryl wig is still the same base that I used in 2009, but it has been thickened up, dyed and restyled multiple times. Sheryl’s hair changes its shade and shape quite often, but this is the way I like it best!
4. Steph (2017)
Contest costumes have a special place in my heart. Key the music, and I can still recite every single word of Steph’s lines. It’s the most energetic skit I ever performed in cosplay, 2:30 minutes of pure fun on an emotional rollercoaster – much like Steph in the anime!
If you haven’t watched No Game No Life, it’s a wild ride of otaku humor, fan service and nerdy science – not for the faint of heart, but I loved every minute of it! The anime was brief but fun.
Steph, or Stephanie Dola, is a character that seems to exist for comic relief at first, but she really grew on me as I worked on her costume and the skit. It’s one of those designs that look simple, but involve clever tailoring to get them to fit just right, and allow yourself to move comfortably.
Inu and I won runner-up in the World Cosplay Summit preliminary at Connichi that year, and I’m still very proud of our skit and how it all came together. It was our last time competing together, so it will always have a special place in my heart.
5. Yukari (2013)
Yukari was my first stage costume for the WCS preliminary with Inu, back in 2013.
We both loved Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa, the coming-of-age story of Yukari or “Caroline” who starts working as a model for a rag-tag band of punky fashion designers.
Watching Germany’s Next Topmodel was our guilty pleasure at the time, so Inu and I had lots of fun putting together a skit with our favorite quotes from one of the judges, fashion designer Thomas Rath. Our skit wasn’t perfect, but it had the mix of cheeky humor and sweet, dramatic moments that we do best as a team!
I made two of Yukari’s glamorous fashion show outfits and performed a quick change on stage. The sparkly, frilly dress is way too princess-y for my taste, but I loved it anyway! We picked matching fabrics and Swarovski stones for these partner outfits. For the tartan dress, on the other hand, I used high-fashion fabrics made with pure silk and wool. It reminds me of Vivienne Westwood or Alexander McQueen’s creations, which I really admire.
We revived our ParaKiss costumes for a studio photoshoot last year, and I love the new look. I can finally retire the costumes now!
Did you like my Top 5 Cosplays? Can’t get enough?! Click here to read Part 2!