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 the 9th Doctor

Costume by Courtney Coulson

Photography by Luke Milton

Location: UWA, Engineering 

Nine is a far trickier Doctor to convey as the simple costume isn’t quite as iconic and doesn’t immediately conjure up a setting. We opted for a more urban, industrial look to contrast with the softness and whimsy of Eight. Nine is a badass, so this was about making Courtney look as masculine and badass as possible and finding rough and interesting textures to frame them with.

Luke Milton

As Luke said, Nine’s challenge comes from having to work with such minimalism, but what sets him apart from the other Doctors is his attitude. It was all about channelling that intensity and darker quality that was unique to him. Designing the costume actually turned out to be more fun than I expected, it forced me to think in much subtler terms, I looked less at structure and more at texture.

Courtney Coulson

First Birthday

Great googly moogly, it’s been a year already?! Let us hope for many more, the fun and learning we have had so far is invaluable and the great response from you all makes it all the more worth it. Thanks to all of you, we aim to bring you bigger and better things in the future!

Cosplay Couture interpretation of the 8th Doctor

Costume by Courtney Coulson

Photography by Luke Milton

Location: Taylor’s College Nedlands

It’s great to finally get back to our Doctor Who series and Eight is one I have been greatly anticipating as he is my absolute favourite Doctor. He may have only had one movie but I am in love with the Big Finish audio dramas. I was so glad that McGann got to continue in the role even if only in audio form.

As his run was the most unconventional, the evolution of his character and his costume bare the evidence of that. Eight is very romantic, easily the most refined and elegant of the Doctors.The original costume never really felt lived in, he was so buttoned up, and because we only see him wearing it in one film, he never got the opportunity to break it in and make it his own like the other Doctors.

But over the years he’s changed, starting out as an old soul with a child-like enthusiasm that gradually gave way to a darker side as he was traumatised by certain events, which culminated in him becoming the War Doctor. As such, my costume reflects elements of his journey, it’s not quite as stuffy as his original costume, there’s a bit of edge there.

Courtney Coulson

I’m not a massive Doctor Who fan, but I am very attached to this series of shoots as Courtney’s desire to do a fashion portrayal of each Doctor was a catalyst for many of the shoots you see on this site. After a year of working closely together it was fantastic to finally add another couple of Doctors to the collection - this one, plus one another who you will see next week. And the location couldn’t have been more perfect, we were incredibly lucky to discover that the location we’d picked had a very similar palette to the costume we were working with. Another in a long string of happy accidents.

Luke Milton

ladyk1138 asked: Your Kahn cosplay couture nearly had me swooning - you rocked it!! Bad ass with just enough feminine to make ANYone growl and commit a crime (or seek vengence). Fabulous clothes and intense pics - thank you for being an inspriration!!!!

Thank you so much, makes me miss being Khan. Perhaps that’s a character we’ll visit again one day.

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