Cosplay Couture

Cosplay Couture a project by Courtney Coulson and Luke Milton, it is an attempt to bring together the world of fashion photography and cosplay together. Instead of accuracy, it places emphasis on couture construction techniques, elaborate hair and make-up, basically everything you would expect to find on a runway or in a fashion magazine. In many ways, it's an attempt to make these costumes look better than the original, but most importantly, these are respectful tributes to the characters and all choices in presentation must make sense for them.
These aren't the kinds of costumes that will neccessarily work at a convention, it's more about how they work within the context of a photoshoot, the environment in which they are photographed is just as important in achieving Cosplay Couture.

Cosplay Couture interpretation of Frankenstein’s monster (Eve)

Costume by Courtney Coulson

Make-up by Lauren Payne

Photography by Luke Milton

Location: Carport

Here’s something we’ve been anticipating for around seven months now, having both become obsessed with the Frankenstein novel and all its various interpretations. Mary Shelley’s work differs massively from the classic Universal film which gets the Michael Bay treatment by comparison. Shelley’s monster is eloquent, emphatic, and pendulum swings between sadness and rage. This is the creature we have wanted to create. Huge thanks to the remarkable talents of Lauren from Lollilicious Make Up Artistry who helped make our plans possible through her wonderful work.

-Luke Milton

I’ve completely fallen in love with Frankenstein, the book has no equal and it’s become a great source of inspiration for me. Luke and I also saw the National Theatre play back in November and I was profoundly moved, it really captured the emotional core of Frankenstein and it was after this that the two of us began wondering if there was any way to give the Creature the Cosplay Couture treatment. After watching many, many adaptations seeing what worked and what didn’t, I ended up with a creature of my own. I call her Eve, as the original Creature is sometimes dubbed ‘Adam’, this isn’t intended to be the Bride, rather a genderswapped Creature as I wanted to channel his emotional journey. This was the most physical performance based shoot I have ever done and I loved it, I was also working on a concrete floor on a cold night in a tight costume and it made the experience feel more real, now I want to see what my next big challenge will be.

The costume was mostly inspired by the Creature’s birth, often depicted wrapped in bandages, it’s a stretch cotton bodysuit with something like twenty metres of bronze organza hand wrapped and stitched on top, and it laces up at the back.  The Creature’s birth is never really explored in detail and it varies greatly when portrayed on screen, so my interpretation is of a creature suspended by leather harnesses within an artificial womb.

-Courtney Coulson

Cosplay Couture interpretation of Tintin and Haddock

Costumes and styling by Courtney Coulson

Haddock by Luke Milton

Photography by Sabatomic Photography

Location: Fremantle docks

For such a simple costume, I am most happy as Tintin, he’s a character I really identify with. And this time Tintin is joined by Haddock and Snowy! As we have already done a couture shoot with Tintin, I thought I would mix things up and go for a more accurate costume. So the styling is relatively understated, but my personal touches are still evident in the velveteen plus fours, leather boots and camera. Besides this shoot was about debuting Haddock’s costume.

How do you make Haddock look fashionable? It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, the general silhouette and colour pallet is unchanged, but I swapped out the anchor jumper with an anchor t-shirt, which I painted myself. Plus scarves are always a cool accessory.

And introducing Bailey as Snowy, conveniently I just happen to have a little white dog for the part. He wasn’t too difficult to work with, he was pretty anxious about being in a new environment, so he stayed close by, the only challenge was getting him to look at the camera for more than a second. 

Courtney Coulson

It’s always a thrill to work with Sab- she is an amazing photographer who understand what we are trying to accomplish and make us look good, It’s also a thrill to be in front of the camera again and getting my Haddock on, thank you for indulging me.

-Luke Milton

It was really fun to get back to shooting. Courtney has amazing dynamic poses and Luke has a wonderfully expressive face.

-Sabrina

-Non-Couture Cosplay-

Gozer the Gozerian- Ghostbusters

Costume and make-up by Courtney Coulson

Photography and props by Luke Milton

This year, this month in fact marks the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters, which is one of my all time favourite films, so I couldn’t resist making a tribute to it.

Our Re-Animator shoot taught us that a minimalistic concept can yield surprising results. Often times we will spend weeks designing, making, planning and researching for a shoot, but in this instance it’s just a carport, a smoke machine and a purple light. Gozer’s costume is really simple, it’s just bits of fabric and plastic (in my case, bubble wrap) glued to a unitard, it literally took me a day to assemble. Hell, I spent more time and money on my Ghostbusters uniform and props.

Courtney Coulson

I have discovered smoke and coloured lights. Nothing will ever be the same again.

Luke Milton

Orlando- An original project

Clothes and styling- Courtney Coulson

Photography and editing-Luke Milton

This was an irresistible challenge. Instead of focusing on an existing character and interpreting a costume, we were able to focus completely on creating our own characters and emphasising and subverting male and female traits. Courtney is a rare model who can embody both genders effortlessly, so once we were convinced that we could get the characters across, the challenge change to trying to create believable chemistry between them. My ultimate goal with this shoot was that you would look at the final pictures and have trouble believing that it was the same person.

-Luke Milton

As someone who identifies as non-gendered and spends time amongst the LGBT community, gender and it’s role as a social construct in modern society is a subject that fascinates me. This shoot was an exploration into what we identify as male and female characteristics. In my daily life I don’t dress or act particularly masculine or feminine, instead I’m somewhere in between. So it was fun to create these characters, that we named Mars and Venus, and see if I could convincingly portray those extremes.

-Courtney Coulson

-Non-Couture Cosplay-

Herbert West- The Re-Animator

Costume by Courtney Coulson

Photography, sets and props by Luke Milton

This shoot was quickly put together after watching all three Re-Animator movies in the past week. The challenge, of course, is to take a character with a very basic costume, use minimal props and set, and still manage to get across the essence of Jeffrey Comb’s iconic Herbert West. It’s really all about the look and the lighting and I’m happy with the results. This is the first time in a while that we’ve used the studio lights, but we used them outside in the carport at night to give us a grittier feel (and a bit more space). And I love making blood!

-Luke Milton

This was a unique challenge as West is such a minimalistic character, alter a single detail about his look and it changes everything. It’s also the kind of costume that only works if you vaguely resemble him to begin with, which considering this is crossplay, I think I at least pass. I didn’t really have to make anything for this costume, I already owned everything except for the glasses, I had to find the perfect frames. In terms of facial expressions and poses, again, I was kind of limited. West is pretty unfazed by any of the events of the films, his usual expression is a stern pout which I tried my best to emulate. And of course the syringe had to be ever present!

-Courtney Coulson

Cosplay Couture interpretation of Tinker Bell from Peter Pan

Costume and styling by Courtney Coulson

Photography by Luke Milton

Location: University of Western Australia

Tinker Bell is one of those characters that is cosplayed a lot but is hard to do well. Disney makes great business decisions, but sometimes less-than-great creative decisions. The mainstream Tinker Bell has become a spritely valley girl with a posse of fairy friends who are all a vehicle for merchandise. But if you go back to the original book, Tinker Bell is far more volatile. She can be unpredictable, jealous, and vindictive. Tinkerbell has a bite. But there’s also a beautiful, ethereal, otherworldly nature to her. I think our biggest success with this shoot was integrating into our environment and my favourite pictures are those where she is lost in the green.

-Luke Milton

"A girl called Tinker Bell exquisitely gowned in a skeleton leaf, cut low and square, through which her figure could be seen to the best advantage" -Peter and Wendy; J.M Barrie

Tinker Bell has had a fairly consistant, very feminine, silhouette from the beginning. Though she wasn’t the first, she has certainly informed pixies and fairies that came after her visually. I used lace as a nod to skeleton leaves and I imagined she might pick up hints of pollen and other parts of nature, so the sponged on pastel shades are intended to reflect that. As for the wings, the bigger the better! They are constructed from “fantasy film” and wire, by far the most involved aspect of this costume.

-Courtney Coulson

jessepinkmanist asked: i just had to come by and tell you that your bandit cosplay is absolutely gorg and so are you

Aw, thanks so much, day made!

Cosplay Couture interpretation of Carrie Kelley as Robin from the Dark Knight Returns

Costume and styling by Courtney Coulson

Photography by Luke Milton

Location Claremont

I’ve always been a huge fan of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. The female Robin is a nice twist but what I’ve always loved about the design is that it’s very androgynous. As a teenager first seeing Carrie Kelley Robin I wasn’t even sure if it was a boy or a girl. I think it’s the glasses that really make this one. Without them it could be any Robin, but with them it’s definitely Carrie.Location wise the goal was to keep this as absolutely simple as possible. Miller uses very sparse backgrounds, and there’s so much iconic colour in the Robin costume itself that I didn’t want anything competing it. We waited until the sun started going down and tried to get some striking, colourful shots with the Robin character spotlighted.

- Luke Milton

This is my first superhero Cosplay Couture and while I like comic characters, they are re-designed all the time, whether it be by official sources or the fans. They are also very much tied to their specific colour schemes and logos. It’s a bit intimidating to try and adapt to fashion. But there’s something about Carrie that just spoke to me, I love her androgynous look, I love that her costume is just thrown together and mostly from a halloween costume. She’s scrappy, she’s plucky, she’s my Robin.

My intention was to create an outfit that felt as if she had found all these items in her own wardrobe and there are many practical items in this outfit, for example the cape has been replaced with a hood that sits like a collar. But of course I still wanted to keep that sense of fashion, the vest is the statement piece and the utmost attention was payed to the tailoring. Overall the silhouette had to be sleek. As for the make-up, I decided to go with black lipstick as it’s bold and lends itself to the graphic (novel) look.

-Courtney Coulson

Cosplay Couture interpretation of Peter Pan

Costume and styling by Courtney Coulson

Photography by Luke Milton

Location University of Western Australia

Re-read Barrie’s Peter Pan if it’s been a while. I forgot how clever and twisted it is. Peter is an anarchic supernatural character who does whatever the hell he pleases. We’ve become too familiar with the watered down film versions so, once we returned to the original text, I was especially excited to explore a more tribal and chaotic Pan. Once again we were very lucky with local environments. You could travel quite far to capture this lush, jungle-like wilderness which is really just a patch of garden not too far from here.

- Luke Milton

Disney has the power to completely dominate people’s imaginations to the point that they can’t imagine certain characters any other way. After being pleasantly surprised by Frankenstein I wondered what other classics novels I was missing out on, I love the Peter Pan animated film but it doesn’t quite capture Barrie’s unique way with words nor the darker side of Neverland. Indeed it seems beautiful and inviting but this is a world where there is but a thin line between fantasy and reality and time, there’s this vague implaceable sense of unease.

Peter Pan embodies these qualities, his memories and imagination are interchangeable and he seems to be able to influence his world with his thoughts alone.Peter is ultimately an antihero, he can come of as a sociopath at times because he is so selfish and unempathetic, but these are the qualities of a very young boy, which is fine except he’s really centuries old and the leader of the Lost Boys, there’s an air of danger about him. He’s unpredictable, driven by impulse and seldom listens to reason, he’s also quite powerful.

Barrie is intentionally vague about Peter’s appearance, a beautiful young boy still with his first teeth  and "clad in skeleton leaves and the juices that flow from trees". So I wanted his environment to influence his costume, not just nature but from what he had scavenged from the pirates and the natives.

As a nod to the Disney film I couldn’t resist adding the bandana as a take on his usual cap, I believe it’s what makes the character instantly recognisable.

-Courtney Coulson

Cosplay Couture interpretation of Oswin Oswald from Doctor Who

Costume and styling by Courtney Coulson

Photography by Luke Milton

Location: A skatepark and a playground in Claremont

I love Clara in all her incarnations, but it’s Oswin that really captured my imagination. Her look was so iconic and it told you everything you needed to know about her, fun, feminine and a little sporty.

My interpretation is not a massive departure, my main intention was to go formal as Oswin’s costume is quite cheap and the hem is all dirtied up.I went for a darker colour, more like a crimson, the fabric is a net mounted onto cotton to give it a heavier drape and instead of a utility belt I swapped it out for a western style belt, so it still gives that contrast of a feminine dress with a masculine belt.

This is my first Cosplay Couture based on a female character, I don’t know how often I will do that because it felt like half the work was already done for me. But in this instance it’s a character I really love and I wanted to wear this costume to the 50th special screening and that was alot of fun.

-Courtney Coulson

This shoot was largely improvised and presented a particular challenge for me. I don’t feel like the official Doctor Who publicity photos ever really show costumes in their entirety and they aren’t especially dynamic for the most part. There are plenty of head and shoulders shots of Clara, but nothing that really had me especially inspired. I don’t think that - at this stage in our development anyway - we’re particularly interested in trying to replicate sets or scenes from the show. I feel that once you start doing that you are back in the realm of cosplay, so instead we were looking for actual nearby locations that perhaps were reminiscent of ideas from the show. I especially liked the plastic playground dome, which gives you a sense of her predicament in her episode, but it using a found environment. And, as always, graffiti walls are a bit of a cliche, but we stumbled upon this dilapidated skate park that was set to be demolished, and I felt that the colours really complimented such a vibrant character. You’ll notice that we shot very hot though - there wasn’t a lot of cover where we were and I was constantly battling a very bright sun. Summer in Perth is horrible for what we are doing!
- Luke Milton