Cosplayer Spotlight #20: Lilacwire Cosplay

By Rizwan Merchant

Editor Note: Lilacwire Cosplay is part of The Cosplay Team Wild Garden Cosplay with fellow cosplayer TecaWild Garden Cosplay was chosen at Nan Desu Kan 2013 to represent the Mountain region of The United States at the 2014 U.S. World Cosplay Summit Finals at Anime Central 2014. The winner of this event will travel to Japan to represent the United States in the international World Cosplay Summit, where they will compete against representatives from other countries.


Terra from Final Fantasy Dissidia
Terra from Final Fantasy Dissidia Photograph by Chou-wa Photography and Cosplay

Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m from Denver, CO, and still live there. I have a husband, an identical twin, and an evil poodle. My day job is in oil & gas, and I enjoy it very much!

When did you start Cosplaying?

What got you into Cosplaying?
My friends mentioned they were attending an anime convention (Nan Desu Kan), and since I loved dressing up for Halloween I wanted to make a costume for the convention. My mother helped me make my first ever cosplay costume – Selphie Tilmitt from Final Fantasy 8.

What is your favorite Cosplay that you’ve made (or worn)?
Kaylee Frye from Firefly’s ballgown.

How do you determine what characters you Cosplay?
Typically costume design plays a huge role in what I choose to cosplay. I love bright colors and intricate designs, so those draw me in, even if I haven’t seen the series or played the game. I also love to learn new skills, so I tend to pick costumes that will introduce me to a new way of doing things.

One other thing that determines my cosplays is if a friend asks me to be in a group. I often do some of my best work when I’m cosplaying with other people.

Kaylee Frye from Firefly Photograpghy by Christa J. Newman Photography
Kaylee Frye from Firefly
Photograpghy by Christa J. Newman Photography

Why do you enjoy Cosplaying?
I enjoy cosplaying for several reasons. I love meeting the people involved in the hobby. They have become some of my best friends. We’ve been in each other’s weddings. It’s really exciting to have that initial hobby that introduces you to your new best friends.

I also love crafting. I’ve always been a hobbyist, so having a hobby that I can wear out and about is very enjoyable. Seeing the work that others do is also motivating.

Do you have any dream costumes you want to make or wear?
I’ve made most of my dream costumes by now: Eiko Carol from Final Fantasy 9 & Kaylee Frye from Firefly. One costume I really would love to make is Gabrielle from Xena: Warrior Princess. Much of that is a fitness issue because she has abs of steel! I’m working that way, though.

Out of all of your costumes, which was the hardest to fabricate?
Princess Utena from Revolutionary Girl Utena. So much fabric. Such a big hoop skirt.

What are some Cosplays you are currently working on?
I’m currently working on Ayane from Dead or Alive. This will be the seventh Ayane costume I’ve made. She’s one of my favorites.

Which costume are you most looking forward to wearing in the future?
I’m really excited to wear my World Cosplay Summit competition costume again. It’s Princess Utena from Revolutionary Girl Utena. I feel so pretty in it!

Do you think you will ever retire from Cosplaying?
Never. The costuming community is so much larger than just cosplay – there are folks who have been competing at Costume Cons and other conventions for forty or more years, so I can’t imagine leaving that whole community behind.

Have you ever considered wearing costumes outside of conventions, for your day-to-day life?
No. I have a professional job and other things to do.

Do you tend to fabricate/make your own costumes or buy them?
I mostly make my own costumes. I’ve purchased elements of costumes before, but part of my love for the hobby is the craftsmanship aspect. I feel most proud when I am displaying my own work.

In the World of Cosplaying

White Rose - SaGa Frontier
White Rose – SaGa Frontier Photography by Idolatry Studios

What experiences in your life have changed the way you Cosplay?
Growing up. As funny as it is to say, I find that the older I get, the more I can afford to spend on cosplay, which helps in innumerable ways. I can use better fabric and try out different techniques without knowing it’s my only shot to make the costume.

What kind of reactions do you receive for any alterations and reinventions of character designs and attire?
Usually positive. Most people understand and appreciate a redesign either for comfort, realism, or wearability.

How do you react to the attention your cosplays generate?
I’m humbled. Of all my costumes, my Kaylee Frye ballgown is my most popular. After spending months putting it together and even more time doing all the research and materials collection, having someone simply tell me they love the costume is one of the best compliments I can receive. I love it when people recognize the effort and love that has gone into making a costume.

What are some of your favorite moments while cosplaying?
One of my favorite moments with every costume is putting the whole thing on for the first time and just feeling so happy and so proud of my work.

Do you participate or have you participated in any cosplay contests (Convention, online, etc)?
I’m currently participating in the World Cosplay Summit, which requires contestants to put together the “full package,” i.e., a self-made costume and a full skit + background. It’s intense, but really worth it to meet the other cosplayers involved.

I’ve also competed in the past in convention masquerades. I’m a big fan of contests that require craftsmanship judging because I think it gives the fairest shake to everyone involved. For that reason I really don’t enter online contests. I think those tend to turn into a popularity contest and that’s not what I’m here for.

Weresheep - Monster Girls Photography by Dustin Leitzel Photography
Weresheep – Monster Girls
Photography by Dustin Leitzel Photography

Have you won any awards for your cosplay? If so, what kind and/or where did you win them?
I’ve won multiple awards over the years – too many to list here. Some are performance, some craftsmanship. It was an honor every time.

What was the first event/convention you went to?
My first convention I cosplayed at was Nan Desu Kan.

What is your stance on handmade vs store-bought cosplay?
Each to her own. Everyone is here for something different. Many people enjoy the roleplaying aspect of cosplay, while others love the competition and creation. As long as you are honest about your costume’s origins (made or purchased), I hope it is fun to wear.

How do you feel about those who get into character while cosplaying? Do you get into character as well?
I’m not a cosplayer who roleplays, but I have no issue with those who do. Again, their cosplay choices are not about me. Just have a good time.

Is there anyone you’ve always wanted to meet and have a photoshoot with?
One perk of having been cosplaying for so many years is that I’ve been able to shoot with & meet nearly everyone. It sounds kind of silly, but after years of attending Anime Expo as a beginning cosplayer and then attending Dragon*Con more recently, I have met such amazing folks.

Fionna - Adventure Time Photography by Dustin Leitzel Photography
Fionna – Adventure Time
Photography by Dustin Leitzel Photography

One of the first cosplayers I ever wanted to meet was Beverly of Charmedseed Cosplay. I knew she lived in Colorado, which was exciting because it meant we shared the same state. She was one of the first cosplayers I knew to have a personal cosplay site, so I was able to do a bit of Internet stalking. Once I finally met her, we became amazing friends, and still hang out on a regular basis. So awesome.

What would you say are the challenges of Cosplaying?

Ignoring the sexist, harmful, or negative parts of the community. Also, there’s a lot of outside criticism from the peanut gallery, and learning to let the insults roll off your back is very important.

How do you deal with the constructive criticisms that you receive on your Cosplays?
I have no problem with it. Most folks giving constructive criticism really care about the hobby, so their advice or thoughts are really good!

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring Cosplayers?
Do what you want and cosplay for YOU. Nobody else’s opinion matters as long as you are proud of your work by the end of the day. Also, don’t give up. You won’t learn those skills in a month or even a year. It’s ok to fail.

Outside of Cosplaying

Do you have any hobbies other than cosplaying?
I am a pretty avid video game player.

Do you have any helpers (pets) that often assist you?
My apricot toy poodle Loki often warms up my fabric by lying on it.

Is there anything you do outside of Cosplaying that gives you ideas of what to do for a costume?
Other than talking to friends for advice, not much.

Final Words to the Readers:

Gabrielle - Xena WP
Gabrielle – Xena WP
Photograph by Chou-wa Photography and Cosplay

Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.

Also, come say hi at a con sometime. I love meeting new people.

For more information on Lilacwire Cosplay, check out her social media accounts below: