Saturday, August 1, 2009

Reminiscing: Pennsic XXXVI

When I started doing Medieval-Fantasy LARP* (do not confuse Medieval with Medieval-Fantasy - other pet peeve), I heard rumours of a magickal place called Pennsic. It was said to be the largest LARP* ever, where people flew in from all over the world to spend a week or two living it up Medieval style, and it is so big they said, that for the duration of the event, it gets it's own zip code! It seemed so unattainable, like the Grail for a Medieval Costumer/LARPer.Then I started playing in the SCA and I discovered that all I had been told about Pennsic was true!

*LARP: for all of you neophytes, that stands for Live Action Role Play.

And so two years ago, I embarked for War (as we say). I drove the 10+ hours by myself (I wasn't alone in the car, I was just the only driver) to spend a whole week in Raining Pennsic!

I went to as many classes on costuming as I could, including: how to drape a 14th hood, how to drape 14th century hosen, how to make a GFD (that is a Gothic Fitted Dress, of self-supporting cotehardie - that's right, no bra needed, the dress is made to your measurements to hold the girls up!), how to draw your sleeve for your GFD, how to drape a Herjolfsnes dress, specifically
No. 38 or No. 41 (don't ask me how to pronounced Herjolfsnes, I haven't a clue), how to make Poulaines (those are the pointed leather shoes), how to tablet weave (very useful to make your own trim and decorate your medieval clothes in a historically accurate way).

When I wasn't in class, I was shopping, buying shoes, silk veils and trim for future dresses, looking at what the garb sellers were offering, thinking "No way am I paying that much, I could make that easy!"... Dancing is another one of my passions, so I spent a few evenings at the Barn (where all the dancing happens).

(Note: I actually never went to any of the battles as I quite frankly wasn't that interested in them and there was just so much else to do!)

Now as half of my SCA household is leaving for War today, let me share with you some of the pictures I took when I was there with them.

Lady Jeanne de Robin, Mórag filia Scayth (me) and Ieuan ap Gwilym
At one of the camps is a building called the Church of Debauchery (lots of drinking and partying goes on there). The stones you see are actually plastic panels made to look like stones, but what a great backdrop for pictures!

A Demoiselle and her Lady: Lady Iuliana Angelina and Lady Sciath ingen Chaennaig

Our Men: Ieuan ap Gwilym and Lord James de Northebrok
(Unfortunately my Sweetheart had to work that week and could not come with us.)

The Household of the Busy Bees (at the time, minus my Sweetheart) - Back row: Ieuan, Sciath, James; Front row: Jeanne, Iuliana, Mórag.

The Bee-Ladies awaiting their Lords at the castle: Sciath, Mórag, Jeanne, Iuliana.

I grew up with the "Contes de Perrault" and this picture reminds me of Bluebeard: "Anne, sister Anne, dost thou see anybody coming?"

Mórag ready for an Antiquity Themed Masked Ball

A picture taken at the Barn

Some Middle Eastern Dancers in the streets

A few Tuchux by the end of War Week (don't ask me what Tuchux are, your guess is as good as mine!)

Reminiscing: Otakuthon 2008

(Editing Note: I had originally posted this on Friday within the Current and Upcoming Cosplay Events post, but I decided upon reflexion to give it a separate post, just to keep things a little more organized and easy to follow. So please, pretend the date you see atop is Friday, July 31, 2009.)

Last year was actually the first time I could make it to Otakuthon. Some of my friends from L'Alliance Impériale were planning to go for a Final Fantasy VII cosplay, with three of them dressed as Shinra Soldiers and a fourth as Tifa Lockheart. As I know next to nothing about Anime and video games, my first question was "Is there a female character that does not show too much skin?" (I really don't have the right body shape to go for a navel-bearing bikini/bathing suit type of costume and I believe in working with what you have to make yourself look good). The answer I was given was "Well there's always Aerith..." ("Anything else?" I asked after a couple of days, "No, that's pretty much it!"). And so I embarked on my first Anime costume project. I'll skip the research process and the construction details and go straight to the results (if anyone is interested, just ask and I can write a "making-of" post later).

Gwenyver as Aerith Gainsborough, Otakuthon 2008

I didn't have the money for a wig, so I call this costume "Beach-Blond-Aerith" (I name a lot of my costumes "Beach-Blond-Something"). The only construction detail I'll mention is the two side-gores I had to add at the last minute (I made the dress the week before so when I say last minute, I mean the night before the Con) because I was two month pregnant (and now my Baby is five month old *sigh*) and the pattern I used, which usually fits me so well, was uncomfortably tight around my tummy.

The Final Fantasy VII DreamTeam: Marie-Ange-The-Celt as Tifa Lockheart, Gwenyver as Aerith Gainsborough, Tionniel, Teknobug5 and Mageknightterra as Shinra Soldiers.

(Picture taken before the Masquerade, for which we won "Best in Show" to our great surprise)

For the Masquerade, I had some help to do my hair and mostly my bangs in the right, pointy, cartoonish way, but I was bugged because I had forgotten my bracelets and armbands at home (I live an hour away from the venue so I went home on Saturday night, but I wasn't about to go back for these accessories when the price of gas was around 1.35$/L!).

All of the Alliance Impériale members present at Otakuthon 2008: Optimus Super Prime as Optimus Prime G1, Mageknightterra and Tionniel as Shinra Soldiers, Marie-Ange-The-Celt as Tifa Lockheart, Gwenyver as Aerith Gainsborough, Luc Skywalker as a Raccoon Police Department Officer (Resident Evil) and Teknobug5 as Shinra Soldier.

Many of these friends are going this year and Tionniel, Mageknightterra and Marie-Ange-The-Celt will have a table in the Dealer room, in the Artisans' corner, selling Naruto and One Piece bookmarks and buttons, and Celtic jewelry, so I invite you to go visit them.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Current and Upcoming Cosplay Events: Otakuthon, Pennsic, Montréal Highland Games, Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France, Anticipation

Summer is a very busy period for a Costumer. There are just so many Events and Cosplay possibilities! And as I can't make it to any of them this year, I'll just have to reminisce about the ones I've been to in the past while I wait for my Friends to share their pictures (you hear that Friends? I want pictures!) and stories, which I'll then pass on to you with their permissions of course.

So here is the program: in case you might want to plan a last minute trip / costume, I'll list every event coming up in the following week right now, and then I'll post some of my pictures from previous years on the day of, or first day of each one of them. So here goes:

Otakuthon - July 31 to August 2, 2009: Montréal's Anime Convention, Montréal, QC.
Pennsic War XXXVIII - July 24 to August 7, 2009 (War Week - July 31 to August 7, 2009): The SCA's annual camping event and War between The Kingdoms of the East and the Middle, Slippery Rock, PA.
The Montréal Highland Games - August 2, 2009: Montréal's annual Scottish Festival, Pierrefonds, QC.
Les Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France - August 5 to 9, 2009: Celebration of the arrival of the first Europeans on American soil through the Régime Français, Québec (City), QC.
Anticipation - August 6 to 10, 2009: The 67th World Science-Fiction Convention, Montréal, QC.

Once again, I remind you that donations of pictures will be welcome by your host, the maternity-leave-stay-at-home Costumeholic.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Costuming Research Resources: McCord Museum

Before creating or reproducing a costume, one must always do a little research. It doesn't matter if you want an absolutely perfect recreation or just a loosely inspired creation, you will want to look at some reference pictures to get an idea of what you want to make before you rush off to the store to buy fabric or accessories. Sometimes, researching for fun will also enable you to spot things in stores, such as jewelry or shoes, which you would not have noticed otherwise and would then be looking for like crazy when the time came for you to make the costume of your dreams!

For 19th and 20th century costumes, one of my favorite resources is the
McCord Museum. Their focus is always the History of Montréal, which they present through their extensive collection of artifacts, from clothing to paintings to furniture and more. I've been there a couple of times and every time, they have different pieces on display.

But this Museum is more than exhibitions: they also have a number of free on-line tools, such as interactive and educational resources, their own YouTube account with many videos on a variety of subjects, and the absolute best, their collection of 135 000 images (including the entire Notman Photographic Archives). You've already seen the Victorian Tartan Taffeta Ball Gown, shown last Saturday. Now imagine being able to look at each piece of clothing, shoes and accessories that their collection holds from the comfort of your own home!

As a sneak peek of all they have to offer a costumer, I invite you to view this video called "Form and Fashion":

At my last visit, I was told by my lovely guide that the Museum will sometimes grant access to their vault if one presents a project/demand deemed interesting enough by the Museum. That made me dream! Imagine the understanding of these historical dresses' construction I could gain if I could look at the pieces closely! One day, maybe...

(To the Museum's Human Resources - If ever you are hiring, I know my BA is in Film Study and not Museum Science, but I doubt you will find someone who knows as much about costumes, is as eager to learn, and will respect the numerous artifacts of your collection as much as me. And a bonus - I can dress-up in my own reproductions of different costume for the joy and entertainment of visitors. Oh yeah, and I'm bilingual!)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wednesday Weekly Wishlist

More play on matching first letters: the Wednesday Weekly Wishlist! (It's the last one I promise - at least for the days of the week, I can't promise I won't use them for puns in the futur). I have so many projects in my head, and there are always new ones that get added. Whenever I have a new costume idea, I start doing research, and I might do research for something I won't be making for years, but as it is mu current obsession, I just HAVE to look for the answers to my questions (which makes me a very knowledgeable costumer).

So following the OSS 117 cosplay I presented on Sunday, I've been thinking of what I would have liked to have made myself had I been able to go. The answer? A colour-block Go-go dress! I've actually been thinking of making one on and off ever since I saw the first Austin Power movie. I guess I have something of a love for 60's fashion. (Could it be because my Sweetheart was born in the 60's?)

I have two main inspirations for this dress. The first is the Strawberry Mini-Wheat commercial:

I just love those red and white dresses with the matching caps and white Go-go boots!

The second inspiration comes from this past season (season 8) of Dancing with the Stars, when they did the 60's group dance (if you just want to skip to the performance, fast foward to 4:30 min):

My favorite dress design is the one worn by both Lil' Kim and Shawn Johnson - simple, half black / half white.

But is it historically accurate? One of my biggest pet peeves is when people assume or generalize without truly knowing anything on the subject. I wasn't around in the 60's, I don't know if these dresses were really worn, so I couldn't just leave it at that! I've looked through old copies of L'Officiel, I've researched the Net, I even asked my Mom (who showed me a picture of her cousins wearing mini dresses in 1967) to find proof of the existence of such dresses. And I did!

First, we have the now famous Yves Saint Laurent's "Mondrian" dress.

Yves Saint Laurent, "Mondrian" Day dress, Autumn 1965 (Wool jersey in color blocks of white, red, blue, black, and yellow)

I already knew about that dress, having written a paper on it, but one dress a general fashion does not make. I needed to find more!

By the end of the 60's, there was a fashion for "Op Art" dresses and fabrics. And so the find of the week, this following picture:

1966 Op Art Dress

I was ecstatic when I found it. It's the Li'l Kim / Shawn Johnson dress (knee length)! Go on, say it: I'm good!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Portrait of a Costumer: Michaela de Bruce

Michaela de Bruce 1520's Yellow Saxon Gown

I thought I might from time to time mention some of my favorite costumers, so since I mentioned Michaela de Bruce in last Saturday's entry, I figured I should start with her.

Michaela's is a highly talented costumer from New Zealand who's costuming interests span from Renaissance (her best work are German Renaissance) to Victorian to Movie recreations, both historical and Sci-Fi. This lucky woman also gets to act in plays and which gives her an excuse to create her own costumes. She unfortunatly has rheumatoid arthritis and so she sometimes has to take things slowly, or make concessions when creating a costume, especially if she's on a tight schedule to finish, but then, haven't we all been there? We all have to make concessions sometimes (granted mine have nothing to do with painfully enflammed joints)!

On to more positive things, let me share with you some of my favorite creations of hers.

The Phantom of th Opera - Christine Daaé as a Slave Girl in Hannibal

LOTR - Galadriel Under the Spell of the One Ring

Moulin Rouge - Satine's Black Diamond Costume

You can find more of Micheala's gorgeous costumes, as well as articles and costume ressources, on her website

Monday, July 27, 2009

Movie Monday - G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra, Julie and Julia, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Let's play on words beginning with the same letter here and start a "Confessions of a Costumeholic" tradition. I feel inspired by yesterday's post, so every Monday from now on, I'll mention an (hopefully) upcoming movie with costuming possibilities. So all of you cosplayers looking for an excuse to dress-up, stay tuned!

G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra (August 7)

Remember those toys you loved to watch battle each other as kids? Why not don on some camouflage gear to go watch actors play the part of toys? If you want a more screen accurate costume (sorry, I'm no expert on this one), I suggest you watch the trailer, visit the official website or look at the pictures for

this movie on IMDB

Julie and Julia (August 7)

Julie Powell may be a modern day cubicle worker, Julia Child's story begins in the 50's and her show began airing in 1963 so why not get inspired by that and dress up as a 50's / 60's housewife?! (For you gentlemen, I would rather you stick to your suit and hats please.) Or just show your support to Julie and put on your cooking apron. Pictures can be found on the official website or on the IMDB page.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 15)

Now, I know that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) has been out in theatres since July 15, but hey, this blog didn't exist then and I can't not mention one of the biggest cosplay movies of the summer! Saddly, I have yet to see it due to motherly obligations (I am patiently waiting for my local Famous Player to have a showing of it in English for their weekly Stars And Strollers program, so no one dare tell me the punch!), but I have been to every other Harry Potter movie in cosplay so I will just share with you a picture of me in my Ravenclaw student uniform.

Gwenyver as a Ravenclaw student

For reference pictures and research, I suggest Muggle.Net, Veritaserum and Madam Malkin's - Harry Potter costume group on Yahoo.

OSS 117 Rio Doesn't Answer (Rio Ne Répond Plus) Cosplay

(I meant to post this yesterday, but I had computer problems so let's all pretend the date says Sunday, July 26, 2009, ok?!)

There are many different ways to spend an evening out: some like to go dancing and drink themselves silly, other will go to some sporting event or perhaps out to a restaurant. Then again, some will go to a movie, dressed like the characters! (Which doesn't mean they never do any of the other previously mentionned activities.)

Last Friday, a few of my friends went to the Montréal opening night of the new OSS 117: Rio ne répond plus movie (it's been out since April in France) in Cosplay, that is in 60's looking clothes. (I would have loved to join them, but one of the reasons I am writting this blog instead of making costumes and going to Cons and Cosplays is that I'm a new mom and I can't do all these crazy things for the moment - but I will again when my baby is a little older). So here they are, these three great gals in their stunning outfits:

Marianne Solav, Teknobug5 and Mageknightterra

A close-up of the twins, Teknobug5 and Mageknightterra

My favorite costume of the three is undeniably Teknobug5's. She looks stunning, and look at that hairdo!

Now if you don't know what the movie is about, watch the trailer, it is hilarious (I can't wait to see it - the movie obviously, I've seen the trailer already)!