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@theblackbard (Chicago, IL)

I’m a fashion designer and have always been a nerd/gaymer. But until about 8 years ago I never knew that cons existed, or that people dressed up to go to them. I made clothes and costumes all the time, but I never knew this world existed. My first con was Animazement, and I cosplayed Barret from FF7. I was so nervous and felt very weird until I was riding down the escalator and someone yelled: “Oh Yo! Its Barret!!”. It was almost like a light switch clicking on, and I was hooked.

I love cosplaying characters that are rarer and challenging and the Final Fantasy series has some incredible character design. I essentially set out to do Ramuh from FFXIV, but when I saw his version in Dissidia, I knew I had to do it. Ramuh is a staple to the franchise and a very rare character to see out in the wild, of the cosplays I’ve seen…there have only been three cosplayers to take on his various forms.

Its weird, while in cosplay…I’m very nonchalant and often forget how bizarre we look (haha) but I’ve always gotten a lot of love from congoers.  However, I’m always surprised with how often people will look at you from afar and slowly circle you until someone gets the nerve to stop you for a picture, and then suddenly phones come out from all sides. I didn’t take 3 hours to get into this to shop for MyHero Coffee mugs in a crowded convention…take my picture, it’s fine! 

Photo:: Justin.Cosplay

The version you see is actually the 5th rework of this cosplay. It evolved each time and this last time I wanted to see how much of a cosplay I could actually create. About 99% of it is all me. From the tusks to the fake nails…I pushed myself to my limit and learned so much as well.  I start all cosplays with research and pictures and since I never played the game I had to rely on images from the web. I had to build my hoop skirt and crinoline first then drape the upper and lower robes on that. 

The 70 pieces of armor snap on to the robes and in itself was a process that took about 2 weeks and 200 individually cut foam pieces…not including the staff, the bracelets, and the beards (yes there are two separate beards. The tusks were definitely a challenge, this is the 3rd set of them I’ve created and these worked wonderfully, and shocker: they really don’t hurt my neck at all. (the worst pain is the platform shoes).

As a POC in the cosplay community, its always nice to see young POC kids come up excited to see me cosplaying! It really warms my heart hoping that they see that cosplay is for EVERYONE.


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