Australian based cosplayers Kirilee Cosplay & Giorgia Costumes are veterans of the cosplay scene. With their added 15+ years experience they won first place at SMASH earlier this year earning them a ticket to represent Australia at the World Cosplay Summit in Nagoya, Japan.
They took some time out to talk to Beyond Cosplay about their beginnings, endeavours and their love for cosplay.
How did you find the experience of the World Cosplay Summit competition?
Kirilee Cosplay: The prelim was tough, but it was an amazing experience. To be honest, I was as sick as a dog, but thanks to the support of friends and my partner, it all worked out in the end. Both Giorgia Costumes and I spent a lot of time over the course of a year making our prelim cosplays so we gave it our all. We are both super excited to be representing Australia in the World Cosplay Summit in August next year!
Giorgia Costumes: It was actually much more fun than I anticipated, but that’s because we’d planned to start our costumes a lot earlier, so there wasn’t as much of a mad-rush stress as some other competitions I’ve entered. Not to say that it wasn’t nerve-wracking, especially as we were dodging hurdles being thrown at us from all over the place. But standing on that stage with the invitation to the finals was one of the most exhilarating feelings I’d ever had, and I was so proud of our hard work and achievement!
How long have you two been cosplaying?
Kirilee Cosplay: 3.5 years.
Giorgia Costumes: I first started cosplaying in 2004 at a local cosplay conventions and have not stopped since!
What inspired you to begin cosplaying?
Kirilee Cosplay: A few things. I was doing model stock photos on Deviantart and was making my own costumes for that. People were saying, “Where is that cosplay from?” – So I started researching into it. Then I noticed that there were conventions being held in Perth and after watching the Madman National Cosplay Championships finals 2013, I was inspired by all the finalists to give it a go the next year.
Giorgia Costumes: At first, I just wanted to cosplay for fun and to spend time with my friends at conventions. But then I discovered that I really enjoyed the crafting side of it and the fact that I was able to showcase my creativity. It turned out that I loved making costumes so much that I ended up graduating from WAAPA (the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) in their costume department with plenty of academic knowledge under my belt!
What was your first cosplay project?
Kirilee Cosplay: When I did my first cosplay I didn’t know I was cosplaying. I did Teyla from Stargate Atlantis at a small convention in London called Pegasus 4.
Years later, when I knew what I was doing – my first cosplay was my T.A.R.D.I.S. cosplay. I got a word of encouragement wearing it from my favourite actress, Amanda Tapping, who loved Doctor Who – so naturally, I had to make more cosplay right?
Giorgia Costumes: Back in the day, my very first cosplay was Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist. I barely knew how to sew, but that didn’t stop me from trying to be ambitious and make his entire automail arm.
How do you decide on your cosplay projects?
Kirilee Cosplay: That is a tough one! It really depends on what the objective is. If it is specifically for a competition I will chose a cosplay which is detailed and has lots of elements to it. If it is for just wearing and enjoyment, I will chose something that is comfy and is a character that I really like or will have fun “playing” (ie. being one half of the ugly step sisters from Cinderella).
Giorgia Costumes: I usually cosplay characters that I have some kind of connection with, or I really love their outfit and want to recreate it in real life. Bonus points if they’re intricate!
Is there a particular type of character or style of cosplay that you prefer to cosplay?
Kirilee Cosplay: I tend to be drawn to characters who are a bit of a dag like me. The goofballs are my favourite because I can have a bit of fun with them.
Giorgia Costumes: My favourite type of characters are usually the ones with big, elaborate gowns, or lots of detail that I can apply to make it really out there.
What has been your toughest cosplay project to date?
Kirilee Cosplay: Jennifer from Cloth Road – I spent 400 hours making her. She has the most layers, techniques, materials and details that I’ve used within a single cosplay to date.
Giorgia Costumes: My toughest project has probably my Madam Red gown from Black Butler, the WCS preliminary round costume we wore earlier this year. Just because I wanted every single aspect of that costume to be as structurally sound as possible, so I used all of my industry knowledge in it to make it beautiful yet hard-wearing and sturdy.
Kirilee Cosplay as Ciel Phantomhive and Giorgia Costumes as Madame Red from Black Butler, which are their winning cosplays from the World Cosplay Summit Competition
What do you love about Cosplay?
Kirilee Cosplay: I love turning a 2D artwork into a real life art piece. I love how you can bring a design to life. I also love meeting all the wonderful cosplayers from all around the country and the world. We are a special group of people with such a passion for what we love – it is inspiring to be a part of.
Giorgia Costumes: So many things! I love the sense of community, comradery and friendship between cosplayers, the challenge of translating a 2-dimensional outfit into something real (especially difficult if it’s gravity-defying) and the sense of achievement in earning a prize for your hard work if you enter a costume into a competition and win. The cosplay community is incredibly supportive as well, and there’s a real sense of comradeship, especially in groups where you can ask and offer advice to help others in their own costume-making journey.
Who would be your biggest cosplay inspiration? How have they influenced or inspired you?
Kirilee Cosplay: Nope – I don’t have just one. So the list!
Giorgia Costumes – She is my partner-in-crime and my best mate. We are very in-tune with each other and she certainly teaches me quite a few tricks
Asham Cosplay – Her work is just gorgeous. Honestly, she was one of the first cosplayer who in 2014, when I was new to all of this wondrous world, showed me some of her work and I was immediately inspired to learn new skills and techniques. I am forever thankful for her friendship and her openness with sharing knowledge.
Tsubaki Cosplay – This lady gives me life! Her resourcefulness has always inspired me to approach problems from different ways if I get stuck.
Garnet Runestar – She inspires me soooo much with her amazing appliqué work, fit, general sewing and just overall finishes of her cosplays.
Cora Ven – She has inspired me countless times to keep going when I wanted to give up, and also to push myself and be confident in myself.
I am probably missing so many other amazing cosplayers who have inspired me – K, Alycesca, Major Sam Cosplay, Kamui, A.K. Wirru, Tessa, Anime-niacs and Henchwench to name a few.
Giorgia Costumes: There are so many wonderful cosplayers out there that I couldn’t name them all! In Australia, I’d have to say Astrokerrie, Henchwench and Major Sam are three of my inspirational cosplayers, and internationally Yaya Han, Garnet Runestar, J. Hart, Cowbutt Crunchies, TWIN Cosplay, Ptytb Atelier… there’s so many wonderful artists out there! They inspire me by making these gorgeous, intricate costumes and showing a real passion for their work, which in turn gets me really fired up for my next projects!
What has been your biggest achievement in cosplay so far?
Kirilee Cosplay: I won the Madman National Cosplay Championship Final in 2015. I am also super excited to be one half of Team Australia for the World Cosplay Championship 2018.
Giorgia Costumes: I would definitely have to say winning the World Cosplay Summit preliminaries in Australia with my best friend Kirilee, and becoming the Australian representatives for the worldwide competition next year. I’d always wanted to represent Australia in something pertaining to costumes and now, I have that chance. [And] I can do that, standing beside one of the people that I love most in the world.
What is your next cosplay project?
Kirilee Cosplay: It is all systems for the World Cosplay Summit in Japan next year! Giorgia Costumes and I have not only our performance cosplays to make, but also others to take with us.
Giorgia Costumes: The next thing on my agenda is definitely working on our WCS finals costumes – since we’ve chosen a different series and characters for our performance. A lot of my cosplay plans are going to be pushed back so I can focus solely on the competition and give ourselves the best chance we can.
What advice would you give someone that wanted to get into cosplay?
Kirilee Cosplay: Just give it a go! Start with something small and build on the skills you already have. Then develop new skills – learn from others, watching YouTube/Twitch, read tutorials and look at photos at what other people have done.
Giorgia Costumes: First and foremost, I would say that cosplay primarily should be fun, but you also don’t have to go all-out into a giant, technically-challenging costume for your first try! Also, there are stacks of great resources and tutorials online, which is really handy for learning, and much of the community is really very supportive and friendly.
Make sure you go check out more of what Kirilee & Giorgia over on their social media’s:
Kirilee Cosplay as Jennifer from Cloth Road
Princess Zelda cosplayed by Giorgia Costumes
From the Team at Beyond Cosplay, we wish Kirilee Cosplay and Giorgia Costumes the best of luck at the World Cosplay Summit in Japan next year!