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The Changing Face of Cosplay

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The Genres of Cosplay

There are many facets to Cosplay. With so many characters and genres to choose from - where does one start?  Well - I thought I would start with Japan!  Harajuku fashion seemed to be a logical place to start.  Then the next thing that sprung to mind was Steampunk!  The most obvious after that I thought would be Anime, then Video game cosplay, Movie cosplay and finally TV cosplay.  So please join me on this journey of discovery.

The way I see it there are six areas of Cosplay.

steampunkHarajuku and Japanese Street Fashion

steampunkSteampunk and Victorian Gothic / Lolita

steampunkAnime and Manga Cosplay

steampunkVideo Game Cosplay

steampunkPopular Movie Cosplay (still in progress)

steampunkPopular TV Series Cosplay (still in progress)

Harajuku and Japanese Street Fashion

There are several styles alone that fall under the category Harajuku:

steampunkLolita and Elegant Gothic


steampunkVisual Kei

steampunkFairy Kei


steampunkCyberpunk / Cybergoth

Everywhere I look I see little hints of Harajuku in everyday fashion.  Some of our key pieces resemble the very same key pieces used in the styles of Japanese Street Fashion. 

For example layered skirts, tartan skirts, blazers, blouses and Lolita styled dresses.  No longer confined to the Japan boundary - Japanese Street Fashion is widely accepted and growing.  These styles are incorporated into your daily wardrobe and not neceassarily restricted to cosplay.  Now there is a new blend of Japanese Street Fashion mixing Akihabara Culture with Harajuku Fashion.
Primarily Harajuku is a mix of styles which are layered, customised and accessorised.  Mostly these are influenced by J-Pop hip hop artists, anime (visual media) and manga (written media).

The Harajuku Fashion takes it's name from the area between Harajuku Station and Omotesando in Japan.  In the 70s the Japanese youth were very fashion obsessed.  During the 90s new fashion trend shops spread to Jingu-Mae area.  In 2006 Omotesando Hills Mall was opened and in 2008 the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line subway opened.  Though the styles have changed over the years, street fashion is still prominent in Japan today. Young adults can often be found wearing subculture attire in large urban fashion districts such as Harajuku, Ginza, Odaiba, Shinjuku and Shibuya.  

Once high speed internet became more widely available the Harakuju Fashion has become more accessible to other countries.
harajuku fashion

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Lolita Fashion

Origin of Lolita

Originally called Olive Girls, Lolita's fashion roots began sometime in the 1980s.  A favourite magazine of the time was Olive.  The fans who attended J-Pop concerts followed their idols and wanted to dress like them.   In the 1990s, Lolita fashion became recognized, with bands like Princess Princess and Visual Kei rock bands coming into popularity. X Japan became world famous.  Later in the 1990s Malice Mizer became popular along with Mana and his fashion brand Moi-meme-Moitie followed.  These bands wore intricate costumes, which fans began adopting as their own style (Elegant Gothic Lolita and Elegant Gothic Aristocrat were sub-styles of Gothic Lolita and Aristocrat fashion). The style soon spread and ultimately reached Tokyo where it became fashionable throughout Japanese youth culture. During 2004 the Japanese Film Kamikaze Girls was released. This brought Lolita fashion out into the mainstream.  Today, Lolita fashion has gained global popularity and can even be found in department stores in Japan and all over the internet.  
Lolita has become one of the most distinguished styles in Japanese street fashion. Now gaining interest worldwide, Lolita is seen as one of the many different styles that reasonates "cute" in Japan.  In essence the idea is to dress like a doll and dress very cute.  The more well-known styles within Lolita fashion are:

steampunkGothic Lolita

steampunkElegant Gothic Lolita (and Aristocrat)

steampunkSweet Lolita

steampunkPunk Lolita

steampunk Classic Lolita

Textiles of Lolita 

Gothic Lolita is a blend of Eastern and Victorian Goth styles. Skirts are usually worn knee length with petticoats for volume. Blouses or shirts are lace-trimmed or ruffled in the Victorian style. Knee length socks are worn.   Attention to fabric is important.  A high quality textile will last much longer.  Fabrics such as wool, cotton, lace and organdy (a fine cotton fabric) are used.  Avoid cheap looking satin and crushed velvet which end up looking bad from a distance.  Depends on your budget I guess.  Ultimately it's up to you what fabric you want.  These pieces are designed for everyday use.

Sweet Lolita is a child-like style featuring pastel colours, black and dark red, and blues.  Sweet Lolita includes themes like Hello Kitty.  Frilly skirts and dresses.  Look for patterns with cute pictures on them like lollies, flowers, gingham prints, cupcakes, hearts, musical notes, baby animals and so on.  The style is very conservative in that not much skin is exposed.  An innocent look.  Some say that those who wore Sweet Lolita in the 70s were mimicking Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables. Brands such as Milk and Pink House started marketing the initial Lolita style of fashion.   Now the Brands have evolved from Lolita and design modern, practical clothing.

Punk Lolita is another style where Lolita is mixed with Punk to create deconstructed or crazy looks.  The main style of Lolita is maintained while adding new elements.  A lot of black fabric and hints of purple or red feature.  Black leather inserts are used along with mesh.  I feel the Punk look brings Lolita into the modern age.  Wear tartan skirts over fishnet tights. Wear knee high boots.  To maintain the Lolita innocence mini-skirts should not be worn. The skirts are slightly shorter but are still of a conservative length.  The tops and pants or skirts have chains and studs. Wear t-shirts with prints such as roses, skulls, blood, lips and vampire teeth. Metamorphome temps de fille markets all kinds of Lolita.

Classic Lolita
is very traditional. It is very mature, and business-like and focuses on lighter shades of blue, green, and red. The dresses are more plain with less lace and frills.  The neckline is very high - right up to the neck.  Fabric designs tend to have gingham, floral patterns, tartan and stripes.  There may be patterns that feature old toys (rocking horse) fruits and berries.  Kodona, a.k.a. 'boystyle' and 'ouji', is a more masculine version of lolita, influenced by Victorian boys' clothing. 'Prince pants', which are short capri-style pants that are cut off at the knee, usually with some sort of detail (such as lace-edged cuffs) are commonly worn with masculine blouses, top hats, knee socks.

Components of Lolita

Depending on which type of Lolita style you choose will determine which accessories to use.  

Gothic Lolita requires dark themes such as bats, spiders and crucifixes.  Wear knee high black boots, fancy bonnets, brooches and lacey parasols complete this look.

Sweet Lolita requires bows, cute purses, elegant parasols and stuffed animals.  Sweet Lolita includes motifs with musical signs, candy, flowers and anything sweet.  Wear your hair in pigtails, your fringe should be above your eyes.  Pastel coloured wigs can be used.  There are also a variety of cute circle lenses that can be used.  A cute pair of knee high socks will finish the look.  

Punk Lolita requires a lot of metal accessories such as safety pins, chains and studs.  Wearing a surgical mask can add a bit of mystery.  The look can also include dressed up mini top hats.  Hair accessories include bows and cat ears.  Punk Lolita accessories also include arm and leg wamers.  Wear a pair of shoes with a chunky heel.

Classic Lolita requires a more mature demeanor.  Less flambouyant - it is said that girls who age may wear this style of Lolita more than the other styles.  Accessories can include little bird cages, antique watches, rose brooches, cameo pendants, rose necklances or chokers.  Lace gloves can be worn.

Examples of Lolita

Lolita Art:

lolita art

Gothic Lolita:

Gothic Lolitagothic lolita

Sweet Lolita:

Sweet Lolita

sweet lolita

Punk Lolita:

punk lolitapunk lolitapunk lolita


Classic Lolita:

classic lolitaclassic lolitaclassic lolita

Lolita In Cosplay

Lolita's can be found having a Tea Party such as in Alice In Wonderland.  The Lolita Tea Party.

lolita tea partylolita tea partylolita tea party


Origin of Decora

The term Decora comes for the word 'decoration".  Another term associated with Decora is 'Kawaii'- Japanese term for 'cute'.  The Decora style originated in the late 90s/early 2000's and rose to great popularity both in and outside Japan.   Decora can be said to be famous for it's rainbow styles. The Decora style introduces a lot of layers of clothing and accessories.  Featuring very bright colours, lots of hairclips and plastic rattly accessories.

Sebastian Masuda founder of the brand 6%dokidoki one of the leading figures of Japanese Pop Culture stated that "the use of bright colours is a statement against war and described kawaii as a way for people to “create your own happiness.”

Textiles of Decora

The clothes are usually coloured black, dark pink or baby pink, but other neon colors are also acceptable (pastels less common). A plain shirt and hoodie was often worn with short tutu-like skirts in the same color-way.  Try and keep the colour theme the same throughout - a clashing outfit will look hideous. Stockings, legwarmers, armwarmers, and knee socks are also worn atop each other in different layers. Common details also include leopard prints and patterned dental masks or surgical masks. The style was eventually merged/replaced in the late 2000s by Fairy Kei and OTT (over-the-top) lolita in Japan, though it is still a relatively popular style overseas.

Components of Decora

Hair can be worn in low ponytails with long bangs, however there are no rules.  Crisp cut sleek bobs with jagged fringes and bright coloured streaks.  Or a long wavy hairstyle with a bouffant ponytail.  Let your personality decide. Add glitter eyeshadow for some sparkle.  Also you can wear temporary tattoos.  As well as hairclips and bows - you can add hair extensions of differing colours.  Lots of bright coloured rings, bangles, bracelets and necklaces.  Use mini plush toys and purses.  Add some cute finger nail art to complete the look.   Remember Decora is to pile on many layers of cute accessories until the bangs and shirt are barely visible.

Examples of Decora 

decora fashiondecora fashiondecora fashion

Decora in Cosplay

In Japan, the girls will wear Decora as everyday fashion.  In the US and abroad - we are a bit shy in that manner.  Although some youth are beginning to wear more Japanese Street Fashion we tend to wear them to Conventions like Anime Expo, Megacon, Fanime, Otakon, Youmacon.  There are a lot of conventions happening all the time.

decora cosplay 

Visual Kei

Origin of Visual Kei

Visual Kei is a style created in the mid-1980s by Japanese musicians consisting of striking make up, unusual hair styles and flamboyant costumes, similar to Western glam rock and glam metal. Androgyny (the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics) is also a popular aspect of the style. Some of the more well-known and influential artists of the style include X Japan, Luna Sea and Malice Mizer.

The term visual kei is believed to come from one of X Japan's slogans, "Psychedelic violence crime of visual shock". There are two record labels, both founded in 1986, that were instrumental for helping the Visual Kei scene spread, they are Extasy Records in Tokyo and Free-Will in Osaka.

By the late 1990s, the mainstream popularity of Visual Kei was declining; X Japan had disbanded in 1997 and one year later their lead guitarist Hide died, and in 2000, Luna Sea decided to disband as well. In 1998, Billboard's Steve McClure commented that "To a certain extent, Hide's death means the end of an era, X Japan were the first generation of Visual Kei bands, but the novelty has worn off. For the next generation of bands, it's like: That's it. The torch has been passed to us."

Versailles performing in 2010, wearing costumes similar to the French Rococo style.  Newer Visual Kei bands include Dir en Grey, Alice Nine, The Gazette and D'espairsRay, who have all performed overseas. Veterans of the scene have also established new acts, such as Malice Mizer's Mana with his band Moi dix Mois, and several members of Pierrot forming Angelo. In 2007, Visual Kei was revitalized as Luna Sea performed a one-off performance and X Japan officially reunited with a new single and a world tour. With these developments, Visual Kei bands enjoyed a boost in public awareness, with bands formed around 2004 having been described by some media as "neo-visual kei". However, there has been criticism about newer Visual Kei bands having lost the spirit of their forefathers, copying each other and becoming generic.

Kenzi of Kamaitachi, The Dead Pop Stars and Anti Feminism commented in 2009 that "Back in the day, there were bands, but people would try to do things differently. Nowadays, there’s one band, and everyone copies off of them.", with Free-Will founder and Color frontman Tommy concluding with "I don’t think our breed of visual kei exists anymore."

Angura kei is the darkest visual kei style. The clothes of the style tend to be mostly black, but with spikes and chains. Make-up is worn dark and heavy. The style has been compared to the modern goth. Like the other two styles mentioned, Angura kei is heavily influenced by underground music with the same name. Some of the most well-known ones include MUCC, Floppy, Guniw Tools, Metronome and Nookicky.  Oshare kei is the happy-go-lucky version of Visual kei and is seen as the most fashionable and cutting edge of the styles. The style focuses a lot on mixing different patterns, bright colors and punk elements to create a unique look. Unlike Visual kei, the make-up is toned down a bit and focuses more on the eyes alone. Facial piercings are also common. Just like Visual kei, Oshare kei has been largely influenced by musical artists. Some of those include Royz, An Cafe, Ichigo69, Lolita23q, SuG, LM.C and Aicle.

Textiles of Visual Kei

More then just a style Visual Kei is a lifestyle.  Wearers of Visual Kei style are usually followers of the J-Rock bands. It's not just about the clothes.  Fans will even copy band member mannerisms or sayings. The look is very 'visual'.  A real mix of textures going on here.  Lots of leather, spikes, studs, tartans, lace and ribbons.  The style depends really on the band your mimicking.  The band Aicle are very feminine and bright.  Wear lace gloves, fingerless gloves. Big chunky heel shoes or boots.

Components of Visual Kei

Part of this look is wearing a lot of make up.  A pristine foundation, thick black eyeliner,  mascara and colourful eye make up.  You will want to mimic the look of the particular J-Rock band you follow.  Wear fake eye lashes and add jewels.  Popular with this style is cross-dressing and gender-bending.  Boys look like girls, girls look like boys. Piercings are popular.

Examples of Visual Kei

Visual Kei J-Rock bands:
visual kei

visual kei an cafevisual kei aicle

Visual Kei fashion:
visual kei modelvisual kei fashionvisual kei cyber gothvisual kei boys

Visual Kei in cosplay

These cosplayers are mimicking their favourite Visual Kei J-Rock bands:
junji cosplay by yuegenevisual kei cosplay
hiyori visual kei cosplay

Fairy Kei

Origin of Fairy Kei

A more sweet lolita, decora blend, with a hint of 80's. It uses mostly bright pastel colors (like lavender, baby blue, light pink, mint green, pale yellow), and elements and accessories from Western toy lines of the 1980s and early 1990s, such as My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, Jem and the Holograms, Barbie, Wuzzles and Care Bears. Fairy kei originated from Sauri Tabuchi, the eminent Tokyo fashion figure's store Spank!  

Dolly kei is a newly emerging style based on Japan's view of the Middle Ages and European fairy tales, especially the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. It includes a lot of vintage-style clothing and sometimes has religious symbols. Grimoire is a store in Japan that has been described as 'the pioneering store behind the Dolly-kei fashion scene'.

Cult party kei, named after the Harajuku shop Cult Party (now known as the Virgin Mary), is a relatively new coined style that is based on Western religious artifacts like crosses or bibles. Common aspects include crosses wired in yarn, layers of fabric in soft colors, lots of cream lace, satin bows and bible prints. The make-up and hairstyle is not as over the top as other styles. In fact, Cult party kei is often worn with natural looking make-up without any larger emphasis on the eyes and simple hair-dos with roses. Cult party kei is considered by some to be a subset of dolly kei.

Textiles of Fairy Kei

Less overwhelming than Decora.  Start with a tutu or petticoat under a knee length layered skirt or skater skirt.  Perhaps in the summer wear pastel coloured shorts. Socks with little frills on them.  Add a Hello Kitty or My Little Pony t-shirt, and accessories.  

Components of Fairy Kei

Accessories can include heart-shaped sunglasses, cute pendants, mini plush purses, stars, rainbows, cupcakes and even wands.  Adorn hair with pretty bows and hairclips.  Stripey socks or tights.  Wear pastel coloured sneakers rather than boots, or chunky heel shoes, you can even wear translucent rain boots.  In the summer you could wear jelly shoes. Fairy Kei is more than just a look too.  You can decorate your bedroom, cover your school books with Fairy Kei themes.  You can do a lot with Fairy Kei!

Examples of Fairy Kei

fairy keifairy keifairy kei

Fairy Kei in cosplay

These cosplayers wore Fairy Kei to the AniNite Convention held August 2013: fairy kei cosplay

The Cosplayers below are wearing Fairy Kei to a Convention:
 fairy kei at conventions


Origin of Kogal

The kogal (kogyaru) look is based on a high school uniform, but with a shorter skirt, loose socks (similar to slouch socks), and often dyed hair and a scarf as well. The girls sometimes call themselves gyaru (gals). Prominent in the 1990s, I think this style will become popular also along with the new growth of Harajuku.  Pop singer Namie Amuro promoted the look.  In his book Understanding Anime and Manga - Robin E Brenner states that Kogals struggle to meet Western standards of beauty by tanning their skin and bleaching their hair blonde.  Kogals were thought of as tacky.

Textiles of Kogal

The basic style is that of a school uniform or a sailor uniform.  A tartan mini skirt and a formal blazer.  You can wear a white blouse with a scarf around your neck or a tie.

Components of Kogal

The look is very simple and natural.  Kogal can also be beach girls and have very tanned skin.

Examples of Kogal

kogal fashionkogal fashion

Kogal in cosplay

In Kogal Japanese Street Fashion, the styles draw on school uniforms and sailor type uniforms.  These looks are influenced by images and characters from Anime and Manga.
Please refer to the section below - Anime and Manga Cosplay

Cyberpunk / Cyber Goth

Origin of Cyberpunk / Cybergoth

Interestingly - when I try to research Cyberpunk on the net I am bombarded with the Cyberpunk as in Science-Fiction. It is true that some themes of Science Fiction Cyberpunk influence the Japanese Cyberpunk BUT from this point I will refer to The Harajuku Cyberpunk as Cybergoth.  Nancy Fitzpatrick - a Canadian Author sermized that David Bowie's look in the 70s was the initial inspiration for Cybergoth and that Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis was a key influence for the main look and feel of Cybergoth. William Gibson's science fiction film Neuromancer was also a key influence.  As far as music is concerned rather than follow J Rock the Cybergoth is more into Electronic Dance Music.  In the US called Rave.  So where is the Japanese connection?  

Well - Tiffany Godoy (author) in an interview about her book titled Style Deficit Disorder stated "Harajuku’s story began with Yacco Takahashi, the first professional stylist to work in Japan. He worked with designer Kansai Yamamoto, whose impressive wardrobe David Bowie borrowed as Ziggy Stardust and propelled Japanese design into space-age future. Masayoshi Sukita, hailed as the grandfather of Japanese music photography, brought David Bowie and Iggy Pop to Harajuku Studio for their photo shoot. The images were later featured on the covers of Bowie’s Heroes and Pop’s Party albums".

While the term 'Cybergoth' was coined in 1988 in the United Kingdom, by Games Workshop, for their roleplaying game Dark Future, the fashion style did not emerge until a decade later. Fashion historian Valerie Steele quotes Julia Borden, who defines cybergoth as combining elements of industrial aesthetics with a style associated with "Gravers" (Gothic ravers). Gravers hybridized "the British Raver look and the NYC ClubKid look with a 'freak show' spin." This fusion between New York and London styles began in 1999. Borden indicates that initially the hair extensions and bright fishnets did not mesh well with goth fashion, but that by 2002 "the rave elements of dress were replaced by Industrial-influenced accessories, such as goggles, reflective clothing, and mostly black clothing."  Steele summarizes: “ Today cybergoths tend to wear primarily black clothing with hints of neon colors, as well as clothing made of reflective materials and PVC, and huge platform boots. Their hair extensions or falls often incorporate a bright color and multiple piercings are typical. Goggles are often worn. Some cyber goths also wear gas masks or (in what appears to be a kind of medical fetish) shiny PVC doctors' masks.”

Textiles and componenets of Cyber Goth

Cybergoth fashion combines rave, rivethead, and goth fashion, as well as drawing inspiration from cyberpunk and other forms of science fiction. Androgyny is common.  Girls look like boys, boys look like girls. The style sometimes features one starkly contrasting bright or neon-reactive theme color, such as red, blue, neon green, chrome, or pink, set against a basic, black gothic outfit. Matte or glossy black materials such as rubber and shiny black PVC can be mixed and matched in an effort to create a more artificial look. The contrasting look can take a variety of forms, including brightly colored hair and make-up, cybernetic patterns such as live LED circuit boards, body modification, gas masks and goggles (especially aviator-style), typically worn on the forehead or around the neck rather than on the eyes.  The most common use of a theme color is in the hair or eye make-up. Artificial, extended hair or “falls” are sometimes used to create this added effect. Falls can be made of various materials, ranging from yarn to fluorescent tubing to electrical wiring. Popular club gear for cybergoths includes tight black pants, tight black vests or shirts cut from ripped, solid or fishnet fabrics, resembling costumes from 19th Century Gothic novels or early black and white horror films from the mid-20th century. Companies that specialize in the style include Cyberdog, DANE in London, Pen & Lolly Clubwear based in Sheffield (UK), Lip Service based in Southern California (US), Rivethead, Robotic Kitty Fashions which specializes in custom, made to order cybergoth gear, based in Chicago, and Diabolik, a shop in Montreal.

Examples of Cyber Goth

Cyber Goth models:
cyber gothcyber gothcyber goth

Cyber Goth Art:
cyber goth artcyber goth neoncyber goth anime

Cyberpunk / Cyber Goth in cosplay

cyber goth cosplaycyber goth cosplay

Steampunk and Victorian Gothic / Lolita

Meaning of Steampunk - a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.

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Overview of Steampunk

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery. Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American "Wild West", in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power.

Steampunk features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions from the 19th century as people might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era's perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art. Such technology may include fictional machines like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or the modern authors Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld, Stephen Hunt and China Miéville. Other examples of steampunk contain alternative history-style presentations of such technology as:
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pnglighter-than-air airships
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pnganalog computers
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngor such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine.

Steampunk may also incorporate additional elements from the genres of fantasy, horror, historical fiction, alternate history, or other branches of speculative fiction, making it often a hybrid genre.

The term steampunk's first known appearance was in 1987, though it now retroactively refers to many works of fiction created even as far back as the 1950s or 1960s. Steampunk also refers to any of the artistic styles, clothing fashions, or subcultures, that have developed from the aesthetics of steampunk fiction, Victorian-era fiction, art nouveau design, and films from the mid-20th century. Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical "steampunk" style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.

Origin of Steampunk

Although many works were published in the 1960s and 1970s, the term steampunk originated in the late 1980s as a tongue in cheek variant of cyberpunk. It seems to have been coined by science fiction author K. W. Jeter, who was trying to find a general term for works by Tim Powers (The Anubis Gates, 1983); James Blaylock (Homunculus, 1986); and himself (Morlock Night, 1979, and Infernal Devices, 1987)— all of which took place in a 19th-century (usually Victorian) setting and imitated conventions of such actual Victorian speculative fiction as H. G. Wells' The Time Machine.  In a letter to science fiction magazine Locus, printed in the April 1987 issue, Jeter wrote:

"Dear Locus,  

Textiles of Steampunk 

The textiles of Steampunk include fashion from the Era you are re-enacting and can be very formal.  You could take the Victorian formal wear and bring it into the future by adding modern textiles such as fish net tights and knee high boots.  Women will wear corsets with lace trims, dresses with ruffles, sometimes the skirts are short at the front and long at the back.  Petticoats can be worn underneath as well as bloomers.  The men wear waistcoats and tails, top hats, military style jackets, leather and knee high boots.

"In 2005, Kate Lambert, known as "Kato", founded the first steampunk clothing company, "Steampunk Couture", mixing Victorian and post-apocalyptic influences. In 2013, IBM predicted, based on an analysis of more than a half million public posts on message boards, blogs, social media sites and news sources, "that ‘steampunk,’ a sub-genre inspired by the clothing, technology and social mores of Victorian society, will be a major trend to bubble up and
take hold of the retail industry."

Components of Steampunk

The main components of steampunk include Steam themed appliances, cogs and gadgets, leather belts/straps, chains with keys or charms, aero-goggles, monocles, top hats, parasols, victorian style clothing from the Era you are re-enacting.  Futuristic items such as iPads, cellphones and headphones can be added to give a science-fiction feel.  To give a post-apoclayptic feel gas masks are added, distressed clothing and motifs.

Examples of Steampunk

Some literary and cematic examples of Steampunk include these styles:
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngVictorian
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngAmerican West
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngPost-Apocalytpic
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngAlternative World
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngFantasy and Horror

bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngThe novel The Difference Engine
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngThe comic book series League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngThe Disney animated film Atlantis: The Lost Empire
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngThe Anime series |Fullmetal Alchemist
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngScott Westerfield's Leviathon Trilogy
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngand the roleplaying game Space: 1889.

The anime film Steamboy (2004) is another good example of Victorian steampunk, taking place in an alternate 1866 where steam technology is far more advanced than it ever was in real life.  Some, such as the comic series Girl Genius, have their own unique times and places despite partaking heavily of the flavor of historic times and settings. Karel Zeman's film The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (1958) is a very early example of cinematic steampunk. Based on Jules Verne novels, Zeman's film imagines a past based on those novels which never was. 

Another early example of historical steampunk in cinema includes Hayao Miyazaki's anime films such as Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986), containing many archetypal anachronisms characteristic of the steampunk genre.
"Historical" steampunk usually leans more towards science fiction than fantasy, but a number of historical steampunk stories have incorporated magical elements as well. For example, Morlock Night, written by K. W. Jeter, revolves around an attempt by the wizard Merlin to raise King Arthur to save the Britain in 1892 from an invasion of Morlocks from the future. Paul Guinan's Boilerplate, a 'biography' of a robot in the late 19th century, began as a website that gained international press coverage when people began believing that Photoshop images of the robot with historic personages were real. The site was adapted into an illustrated hardbound book Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel, and published by Abrams in October 2009.  Because the story was not set in an alternative history, and in fact contained accurate information about the Victorian era, some booksellers referred to the tome as "historical steampunk."

American West "Western" steampunk, which overlaps with both the Weird West and Science fiction Western subgenres. Several other categories have arisen, sharing similar names, including dieselpunk, clockworkpunk, and others. Most of these terms were coined as supplements to the GURPS role playing game, and are not used in other contexts.

Mary Shelley's The Last Man, set near the end of the 21st century after a plague had brought down civilization, was probably the ancestor of post- apocalyptic steampunk literature. Post-apocalyptic steampunk is set in a world where some cataclysm has precipitated the fall of civilization and steam power once again gains ascendancy, such as in Hayao Miyazaki's post-apocalyptic anime Future Boy Conan (1978), where a war fought with superweapons has devastated the planet. Robert Brown's novel, "The Wrath of Fate" (as well as much of Abney Park's music) is set in A Victorianesque world where an apocalypse was set into motion by a time-traveling mishap. Cherie Priest's Boneshaker series is set in a world where a zombie apocalypse happened during the Civil War era. The Peshawar Lancers by S.M. Stirling is set in a post-apocalyptic future in which a meteor shower in 1878 caused the collapse of Industrialized civilization. The movie 9 (which might be better classified as "stitchpunk" but had a large influence on steampunk) is also set in a post-apocalyptic world after a self-aware war machine ran amok. Steampunk Magazine even published a book called "A Steampunk's Guide to the Apocalypse", about how steampunks could survive should such a thing actually happen.  

Alternative World
Since the 1990s, the application of the steampunk label has expanded beyond works set in recognisable historical periods, to works set in fantasy worlds that rely heavily on steam or spring powered technology.

Fantasy steampunk settings abound in tabletop and computer role-playing games. Notable examples include:
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngSkies of Arcadia
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngRise of Nations: Rise of Legends
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngArcanum: Of Steamworks
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngand Magick Obscura.

The gnomes and goblins in World of Warcraft also have technological societies that could be described as steampunk as they are vastly ahead of the technologies of men, but are not magical like those of the Elves.  Amidst the historical and fantasy sub-genres of steampunk is a type which takes place in a hypothetical future or a fantasy equivalent of our future, involving the domination of steampunk-style technology and aesthetics.  Examples include:
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngJean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro's The City of Lost Children (1995)
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngTurn A Gundam (1999–2000)
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngTrigun and Disney's film Treasure Planet (2002).
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngIn 2011, musician Thomas Dolby heralded his return to music after a 20-year hiatus with an online steampunk alternate fantasy world called the Floating City, to promote his album, A Map of the Floating City.

Fantasy and Horror (steampunk derivatives) 
Kaja Foglio introduced the term "Gaslight Romance", gaslamp fantasy which John Clute and John Grant define as "steampunk stories ... most commonly set in a romanticised, smoky, 19th-century London, as are Gaslight Romances.

But the latter category focuses nostalgically on icons from the late years of that century and the early years of the 20th century on:
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngDracula
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngJekyll and Hyde
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngJack the Ripper
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngSherlock Holmes
bullet point steam cog photo: Ferrous Wheel 3DCOG.pngand even Tarzan.

-and can normally be understood as combining supernatural fiction and recursive fantasy, though some gaslight romances can be read as fantasies of history." Some, such as author/artist James Richardson-Brown use the term steamgoth to refer to steampunk expressions of fantasy and horror with a "darker" bent.
dracula steampunk cosplayjekyll and hyde steampunk cosplaysherlock holmes

Musical influences
Steampunk music is very broadly defined, as Caroline Sullivan says in The Guardian: "Internet debates rage about exactly what constitutes the steampunk sound." Abney Park’s lead singer, Robert Brown, very loosely defined it as "mixing Victorian elements and modern elements." Joshua Pfeiffer (of Vernian Process) is quoted as saying “As for Paul Roland, if anyone deserves credit for spearheading Steampunk music, it is him. He was one of the inspirations I had in starting my project. He was writing songs about the first attempt at manned flight, and an Edwardian airship raid in the mid-80’s long before almost anyone else…”. Thomas Dolby is also considered one of the early pioneers of retro-futurist (i.e. steampunk and dieselpunk) music. Singer Amanda Palmer was once quoted as saying, "Thomas Dolby is to Steampunk what Iggy Pop was to Punk!"

thomas dolby steampunk
Since there is little consensus on the sound steampunk music should take, there is a broad range of musical styles and interpretations among steampunk musical acts, from industrial dance and world music to folk rock, Punk cabaret to straightforward punk, Carnatic to industrial, hip-hop to opera (and even industrial hip-hop opera), darkwave to progressive rock, barbershop to big band.

Steampunk has also appeared in the work of musicians who do not specifically identify as steampunk. For example, the music video of Turn Me On by David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj takes place in a steampunk universe where Guetta creates human droids. In addition, the 2012 album Clockwork Angels and its supporting tour by progressive rock band Rush contain lyrics, themes and imagery based around steampunk. In 2012, Thomas Dolby headlined the first "Steamstock" outdoor steampunk music festival in Richmond, California, alongside steampunk favorites Abney Park, Frenchy and the Punk, Vernian Process, Lee Presson and the Nails and others.

Steampunk in cosplay

Canadian cosplayer Lizbit once said "Steampunk is a very fun theme in cosplay, because it provides countless options. You get to mix soft and luxurious fabric with very structured articles, which create the posture and feel of the Victorian era. The more layers, the better, and this allows the cosplayer to have full creative freedom over how much or little they show; and it is a really cool base to start an original character from. What other genre could get away with mixing top hats, corsets, bustle skirts and brass?” - See more at:

Steampunk Cosplay models:
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2006 saw the first "SalonCon", a neo-Victorian/steampunk convention. It ran for three consecutive years and featured artists, musicians (Voltaire and Abney Park), authors (Catherynne M. Valente, Ekaterina Sedia, and G. D. Falksen), salons led by people prominent in their respective fields, workshops and panels on steampunk—as well as a seance, ballroom dance instruction, and the Chrononauts' Parade. The event was covered by MTV and The New York Times.  Since then a number of popular steampunk conventions have sprung up the world over, with names like Steamcon (Seattle, WA), the Steampunk World's Fair (Piscataway, NJ) and Up in the Aether: The Steampunk Convention (Dearborn, MI).

Cosplayers at Steamcon:
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Steampunk has also become a regular feature at San Diego Comic-Con International in recent years, with the Saturday of the four-day event being generally known among steampunks as "Steampunk Day", and culminating with a photo-shoot for the local press.  In 2010 this was recorded in the Guinness Book of World  Records as the world's largest steampunk photo shoot.  In 2013, Comic-Con announced four official 2013 T-shirts: one of them featured the official Rick Geary Comic-Con toucan mascot in steampunk attire. The Saturday steampunk "after-party" has also become a major event on the steampunk social calendar; in 2010 the headliners included The Slow Poisoner, Unextraordinary Gentlemen and Voltaire, with Veronique Chevalier as Mistress of Ceremonies and special appearance by the League of STEAM, and in 2011 UXG returned with Abney Park.

Cosplayers at Comic-Con 2010:
Steampunk cosplay
Steampunk also has sprung up recently at Renaissance Festivals and Renaissance Faires, nationwide. Some have organised events or a "Steampunk Day", while other Fests simply support an open environment for donning Steampunk attire. The Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on the Wisconsin/Illinois border, featured a Steampunk costume contest during the 2012 season. The previous two seasons featured increasing participation in the phenomenon.

Steampunk also has a growing following in the UK and Europe. The largest European event is "Weekend at the Asylum", held at The Lawn, Lincoln every September since 2009. Organised as a not-for-profit event by the Victorian Steampunk Society, the Asylum is a dedicated steampunk event which takes over much of the historical quarter of Lincoln, England, along with Lincoln Castle. In 2011 there were over 1000 steampunks in attendance. The event features the Empire Ball, Majors Review, Bazaar Eclectica and the international Tea Duelling final.

Lincoln UK Steampunk Festival:
steampunk cosplay

Anime Manga cosplay

Origin of Anime

Anime is Japanese animated media featuring hand-drawn or computer animation.  The earliest known Anime dates back to 1917.  The characteristic anime art style emerged in the 1960s with the works of Osamu Tezuka.  The production focusses less on movement and more on the realism of settings including panning effects, zooming effects and angle shots.  The anime character normally features large emotive or realistically sized eyes.  Major anime producers include Studio Ghlibi, Gainax and Toei Animation.

Textiles of Anime

Depending on which anime character is chosen, the cosplayer will replicate the look and feel.  Check out the top 100 list for the most cosplayed anime here.  Most girl characters feature corsets, short frilly mini skirts, coloured hair, ribbons and lace.  Boy characters have spiky hair, Naruto characters feature the signature headbands. Sometimes flowing capes are worn depending on the character.  The most popular anime for 2013 was Attack on Titan, the characters Mikasa, Eren and Levi are popular outfits and feature the Recon Corps jacket, leather straps and air-manoevure gear.

Components of Anime

To mimic anime cosplayers may require brightly coloured, spiky hair or wig to achieve the desired look.  Circle lenses to make the eyes appear larger or doll-like.  Most characters will require a weapon or special ability.  Weapons can be bought ot hand-made.

Examples of Anime and Cosplay

Top Anime 2012 - Sword Art Online, characters Kirito and Asuna.
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Top Anime 2013 - Attack on Titan, characters Mikasa, Eren and Levi.
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Top Anime 2014 - Kill la Kill featuring characters Ryuko, Satsuki and Nonon.
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Vocaloid series featuring Hatsune Miku.
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Ciel Phantomhive from Shiroshitsuji / Black Butler.
anime black butlerblack butler anime cosplay

Sheryl Nome known as the Galactic Fairy in Macross Galaxy.
anime sheryl nomesheryl nome anime cosplay

Kuroko no Basket
anime kuroko no basketkuroko anime cosplay

Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach
anime ichigoichigo anime cosplay
There really are so many characters to choose from.  But I hope to have inspired somebody today!

Video Game Cosplay

Overview of Video Game Cosplay

Video Game cosplay is cosplay where the cosplayer mimics the character and styles of characters featured in video games.  Not only do they try to achieve the look of the character but they may also re-enact scenes from the video games.

Origin of Video Game Cosplay

The very first video games were said to originate in the 1940s with the cathode ray tube-based missile defense systems.  These later evolved in the simple video games created in the 1950s.  The first commercially viable video game was Computer Space in 1971, in which the player controls a spaceship and attempts to destroy two hardware-controlled flying saucers before they destroy him.  In 1972 Atari Inc  marketed the game Pong and this was a big hit.  A ping pong table simulation game.

video game cosplay  video game cosplay

In 1975 the first combat style game Gun Fight included game characters, game violence, and human-to-human combat.  Also in 1975 the first Role Playing Game - Dungeons and Dragons.  Then 1978 saw the release of the blockbuster Space Invaders. 1978-1986 is said to be the Golden Age for the Arcade Game.  These games include Space Invaders, Galaxian, Frogger, Asteroids and PacMan.  

video game cosplayvideo game cosplay

Final Fantasy's origin is dated 1987.  Other RPGs included Dragon Warrior, Dragon Quest, Phantasy Star and Megami Tensai.  The Legend of Zelda debuted in 1986.  Metal Gears debuted 1987.  I believe the Role Playing Games are at the heart of Video Game Cosplay.  Once upon a time cosplay was reserved for dedicated Star Trek fans, but the Final Fantasy franchise has so many awesome characters created by the likes of Toshiyuki Itahana, Akihiko Yoshida, Yoshitaka Amano, and Tetsuya Nomura that cosplayers started to cosplay anime, movies and video games.

Textiles and components of Video Game Cosplay

The costumes of video game cosplay are very complicated and detailed.  They often feature hooded capes, ellaborate headgear and armour.  Highly sophisticated props including weapons, wings, LED, jewellery, scarves, belts and chains. Cosplayers may also require tattoos, coloured eye lenses and wigs.

Examples of Video Game Cosplay

Role Playing games such as League of Legends, The Elder Scrolls, World of Warcraft, Diablo, Mass Effect, Kingdom Hearts, Star Wars: The Old Republic to name a few.  See IGNs top 100 RPG list.

Other games include Assassins Creed, Super Mario, Pokemon, Thief, Minecraft, Plants v Zombies, Silent Hill, Bayonetta, Battlefield, Donkey Kong, Prince of Persia, Gears of War, Sonic, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Halo, Resident Evil, Metroid Prime, Tomb Raider and Bioshock.

RPG Cosplay

Daedric Cosplay - Elder Scrolls
video game cosplayvideo game cosplay

Diablo female monk
video game cosplayvideo game cosplay

Assassin's Creed Ezio Cosplay
video game cosplayvideo game cosplay

Gaming Cosplay

Minecraft cosplay
video game cosplayvideo game cosplay

Popular Movie Cosplay

Overview of Popular Movie Cosplay

Simply put - Popular Movie Cosplay is just that!  Cosplay of your favourite movie characters.  

Origin of Popular Movie Cosplay

It was in the early eighties when the term Cosplay was first used.  It is my feeling that Cosplayers became more noticed around this time.  In the beginning it was the very dedicated Star Trek fans who mimicked their favourite characters at the Pop Culture Conventions.  In my view there is a strong connection between Science Fiction and Cosplay.  If we take a look at the early eighties Pop Culture.  ET was released in 1982, I'm sure there were a few Elliots and ETs at various conventions.  One of the biggest movies released in 1983 was the third installment of Star Wars - Return of the Jedi.  In 1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom came out, Ghostbusters, The Terminator, Conan the Barabarian, Dune, Star Trek III - The Search for Spock, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm St and the Neverending Story came out. What a great year 1984 was for movies! 30 years later and Indiana Jones is still a popular character to cosplay. The four Ghostbusters weilding their ghost-trapping hardware are great characters to cosplay.  Jason from Friday the 13th with his famous hockey mask is still popular.  Freddy Krueger and his red striped top and knives as fingers is timeless.  Arnold Schwarznegger as The Terminator with his cyborg eye, black sunglasses, leathers and handgun is also timeless.

1984 was a great year for movies!

popular movie cosplay   popular movie cosplay
popular movie cosplaypopular movie cosplay
popular movie cosplaypopular movie cosplay

Marvel, DC Comics, Walt Disney and Movie Cosplay

Marvel was founded in 1939!  In 2009 The Walt Disney Company bought this company.  However the modern Marvel we have come to know was made famous by the original comic The Fantastic Four and other superhero titles created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and many others.  Characters that are known household names from the creators of Marvel comics include:
lightning bolt bullet.pngSpiderman
lightning bolt bullet.pngX-Men
lightning bolt bullet.pngWolverine
lightning bolt bullet.pngIron Man
lightning bolt bullet.pngHulk
lightning bolt bullet.pngCaptain America
lightning bolt bullet.pngFantastic Four
lightning bolt bullet.pngAvengers

D C Comics is Marvel's opposition comic company and was founded in 1934!  D C Comics is owned by Warner Bros.  Characters that are known household names from the creators of D C Comics are:
lightning bolt bullet.pngSuperman
lightning bolt bullet.pngBatman
lightning bolt bullet.pngWonder Woman
lightning bolt bullet.pngGreen Lantern
lightning bolt bullet.pngThe Flash
lightning bolt bullet.pngGreen Arrow
lightning bolt bullet.pngJustice League
lightning bolt bullet.pngWatchmen
lightning bolt bullet.pngTeen Titans
lightning bolt bullet.pngJoker
lightning bolt bullet.pngLex Luthor
lightning bolt bullet.pngCatwoman

Which comic book character was first made into a movie?

If you're a lay person like me then your first thought might be Spiderman.  He is the most popular isn't he?  Or Superman.
Actually the first comic book hero to make it to the big screen was Captain Marvel in the Adventures of Captain Marvel in 1941.  Captain Marvel was also the best selling comic book in the 1940s.  Superman was the next when he appeared on the big screen in 1948.  Several years after Captain Marvel.  Interestingly they are working on a new Captain Marvel movie as we speak!  Actually there are 11 new Marvel Movies in the process of being made!

According to these are the 5 top rated Comic Book movie adaptations as voted by the public:

scratches bullet.jpg30 Days of Night - a 2007 American vampire horror film based on the comic book miniseries of the same name.
scratches bullet.jpg300 - 2007 American fantasy action adventure film retelling the Battle of Thermopylae.
scratches bullet.jpgA History of Violence - 2005 American crime thriller starring Viggo Mortensen.
scratches bullet.jpgA Man called Hero - based on the manhua series Chinese Hero: Tales of the Blood Sword by Ma Wing-shing.
scratches bullet.jpgAlien vs Predator - a 2004 science fiction film, the concept originated in a 1989 comic book.

Textiles and components of Popular Movie Cosplay

I guess it would depend on what character you choose to cosplay.  As characters are from popular movies some props and items can be easily bought such as lightsabers and other weapons.  As far as costumes are concerned they can be complicated.  One such example is Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Carribean.  For Captain Jack Sparrow you would need a dreadlocks wig, wide pirate style bandana or pirate hat, Jack Sparrow signature twin plait goatie and facial hair, pirate shirt and vest, additional belts and scarves, and most definitely a sense of humour!  Many characters may have tattoos, wounds to replicate and may require a lot of make up and fake blood.  

Examples of Popular Movie Cosplay

If we take a look at Movies released thus far in 2014.  Some of the most likely to be cosplayed would be (in my opinion):

The Lego Movie
lego movie cosplay
Captain America - The Winter Soldier
awesome captain america cosplayawesome captain america cosplay
X-Men - Days of Future Past (Quicksilver)
quicksilver xmen cosplayquicksilver xmen cosplay
How to Train your Dragon 2
Wow!  I can't believe how incredible this cosplay is of Hiccup from the movie How to Train your Dragon 2
hiccup cosplayhiccup cosplay

Guardians of the Galaxy
guardians of the galaxy cosplayguardians of the galaxy cosplay

If we look at the Best Movies of All Time - this is my list of most likely to be cosplayed:

Star Wars - Boba Fett, Darth Vader, Han Solo (and not pictured Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, R2D2, etc , etc)
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The Rocketeer
rocketeer cosplayrocketeer cosplay
X Men - Wolverine
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The Corpses Bride
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Nightmare on Elm St - Freddy Kreuger
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There are soooo many movies and characters to choose from.  But as long as brilliant movies continue to be made, so too will brilliant movie cosplay.

Happy Cosplaying!