It’s been a LONG time since I’ve checked in with you but, I promise, that doesn’t mean I’m not hard at work!
With the local CONVERGENCE science fiction convention coming up, I thought it’d be a good time to give you a peek behind the curtain. I wrote up pieces about a few of my costumes after-the-fact last year, but this year, I thought I’d get a jump on it and show you what my costuming process looks like from the very beginning.
I have a few costumes on deck for this year, but for the purposes of this post, I’ll focus on two:
S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Maria Hill from Marvel comics and “The Avengers” film from last year,
and Queen Susan of the Horn from The Chronicles of Narnia and, specifically, the “Prince Caspian” film from 2008
Step 1: Research.
Here’s where those skills you learned in school come in handy. Look everywhere. Get pictures of the costume – and not just pictures. If all you have to work with is movie screenshots, then do what you can from there. Most newer features will have interviews with the costumers and sometimes even close-ups of the work and details of how it was done. Find as much source material as you can stand and as many details as you can muster. For me, I know that I got tired of looking up this information twice – once at work and once again at home – so I created my Costuming Inspiration and Sourcefile board on Pinterest. From there, I have a ready reference for everything I need, from screencaps to auction photos to promotional photography to simply things I like and would love to someday incorporate into a future costume.
This year’s CONVERGENCE theme is “British Invasion,” so naturally, I delved into my mind for everything British I’ve ever wanted to cosplay. Queen Susan immediately came to mind. I liked her in the books as a calm and content voice of reason for the Pevensie children. I loved her in the movies because her character got much more development than we ever saw from her in the books. (Also, there’s that time she kissed Prince Caspian. I mean, come on. LUCKY.)
Luckily for me, I’m a few enough years removed that someone else has compiled all of this for me.
I pinned a good ready-reference photo from the article so that I can pop up my Pinterest app and refer to it when I’m looking for fabric or for items for the costume:
So once I have the pictures in front of me, I can start looking into all that this costume will entail. For Susan, it’s: a red medieval-style dress with elbow-length sleeves, a chainmail hauberk with a velvet collar, a leather armor corset, the horn quiver, a bracer, a bow, and arrows.
SHIELD Agent Maria Hill
It’s amazing what can spark wanting to make a costume. (Story time!) I drive a 2001 Jeep Wrangler. It’s the best car I’ve ever driven. I love it. So when they converted Jurassic Park to 3D for this year, naturally I joined JurassicJeep.com and started looking around for sites where I could get magnetic decals for my doors. You know, for those occasions when you need to flee a T-Rex. I discovered an eBay shop that carried them at a reasonable rate, and thought hey, I wonder if they’d give me a deal if I also got my DHARMA Initiative decals from them. Well, they didn’t have DHARMA decals, but they had SHIELD ones. I immediately remember how I swelled with pride when Agent Maria Hill gave chase to Loki and Hawkeye in a modded black Jeep right before the title card in last summer’s “The Avengers.” My mind was made up.
The thing is, though? Agent Hill is not a Narnian Queen. She’s not Black Widow. She helps Nick Fury run SHIELD, but Cobie Smulders is not Samuel L. Jackson, so there aren’t a ton of promotional photos out there of Hill’s costume. When people are screencapping the film, it’s the “never put a villain in a glass prison” shots (and others) that they’re going for, not the fearless woman who got in the Jeep and went after the bad guy before Earth’s Mightiest Heroes even assembled. (They are, however, screencapping the HELL out of her thirty-second bit in the credits, in which she mourns for the loss of a fellow Agent.) So my work on Hill’s costume has been a little more complex.
I did find a screencap site, where I was able to nab a few shots that I tossed up on to my Pinterest board. I also found an article on Hello, Tailor that included a promo image and some thoughts on the SHIELD uniforms in general, as well as Hill’s in particular. Mainly, what I’m looking for is detail. Superfans will forgive a fudged detail, like putting the bullet hole on Mal’s brown coat on the wrong side, but they will not forgive a detail that is left out. So I’m looking at where the black meets up with the blue. I’m looking at where she wears her SHIELD patches, because that’s probably regulation. I’m looking at her boots. And I pin, pin, pin.
I ended up finding an article on Tumblr by a woman who made a Hill costume for last year’s San Diego Comic Con. She’d posted some of her research, but mostly, it’s construction techniques. So I have it saved on my Pinterest for later, in the comment of another photo, because there’s no photo in the post.
So based on all of that research, what I need for Hill is: a navy blue jumpsuit with black detailing, black boots, a sidearm, an earpiece, a utility belt, those decals, and my Jeep.
So that’s step 1. Research.
Stay tuned for Step 2: BUY ALL THE THINGS! in which I zoom in on some costume details and post some photos of the things I’ve bought for these projects!