Part two in my blog series where I'm going through some of the old cosplay I've made over the years, this time it's Gankutsuou!
Based on the book The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, this anime is a spectacle for sure. It takes the well known story and turns it into a sort of space/futuristic opera style with lavish style, mechs and outfits to die for. I could go on and on about how much I love this anime and as such, it's probably the series that I have made the most outfits for. At the time when I was watching it, I had plans to make costumes for so many of the characters and all of these costumes were so far above my skill level, but I didn't care! If there's any series I can credit with increasing my skills, it would be this one, no contest.
At the time, I had minimal sewing skill, but decided to use a Vogue pattern to make the red dress (big mistake!) I managed to fumble my way through the complicated pattern somehow and then hand painted the entire dress with the flower design, because there was no fabric I could find with it already on there. Also, since the promotional art from the show didn't show the back of her dress, I had to make that design up on the fly. This was also the first time I'd ever successfully styled and colored a wig (adding in the silver streaks) and made my own jewelry by combining existing pieces I found at the local Clarie's and garage sales. The result is a cosplay I'm still proud of to this day, even if it no longer fits me and certainly didn't hold up for more then a few wears.
Mercedes de Morcerf - After making the Countess dress for myself, my partner wanted to join in the action. So we decided to make her a couple different versions of Mercedes' outfits throughout the series. I made her pink dress and her nightgown from scratch, while the shopping outfit we combined found and altered pieces with a cute dress I made. My partner took it upon herself to handle the painting that was needed for the pink dress and the shopping outfit and went all out with styling her hair to look as close as she could at the time. A couple of things were learned. First off, for the pink dress, I didn't know how to add sleeves to a strapless dress at the time, so I just added them to the green piece across the top. I quickly learned that I couldn't cut corners this way and have since learned how to frankenstein patterns as needed. We also learned that when painting fabrics you have to be very careful about the thickness, or it will crack and peel and the same applies to hats.
Heloise Villefort - While I wasn't much of a fan of the character, I was still caught up in all the costumes and wanted to challenge myself again. I chose her dress because it was lovely and presented a whole new set of items to conquer. Specifically I didn't want to paint the dress again, so this time I broke into the patterned fabric. I made the main dress out of a patterned cotton and then overlaid a green lace and added another pattern to the hoop skirt under it. Not to mention I used a color shifting fabric for the top. I love this dress and still wear it, though now without the top coat and I've been considering repurposing it into a Poison Ivy costume.
Valentine Villefort - And finally, I also made Valentine's dress from the last episode. One of the cool things about this series was that for the final episode they brought in designer Anna Sui to create costumes for all the characters. At the time I didn't know who she was, but these costumes were even more gorgeous and I chose the one that would give me a challenge (sensing a theme?). Valentine's dress was super cute and that front panel was the biggest challenge - so I learned from my mother how to hand quilt the patterned pieces together. This dress also no longer fits me, but I'm so proud of that quilted piece I can't bear to let it go.
As time has gone by I've come across many anime series that inspire me to do multiple costumes, sadly I generally don't have the time to do it before something else catches my fancy. Still, Gankutsuou will always stand out as one of the foundation series of my anime fandom as a whole and a perfect example of how cosplay has pushed me to learn all I know today.