When I started this blog, one thing I hoped to eventually do with it was share the creation process of my cosplay projects. Now has finally come the time to begin doing that.
If you’ve been following my cosplay/art Instagram account (ladyoflothal) or my Twitter, you’ll have already seen quite a bit about this, but it’s time to fully introduce the project here in the blogosphere:
Welcome to the journey of creating my cosplay of Lady Cordelia Beaumont!!
Cosplaying a book character is something I’ve had a vague inclination to do for a while, but always lacked the inspiration to start. Specifically trying to capture the personality of the character and their place in the story through their appearance while still remaining faithful to their descriptions within the text sounded like such a fun challenge.
But as I mentioned, I just didn’t have a character who inspired me enough to try to make it happen… until I started reading this series:
I’ve screamed about the Afterverse a lot on Twitter and Instagram by now, and quite a bit on this blog. At some point, I’ll get around to writing an in-depth review of it (though I feel like I should do a complete re-read of all the books so far first, no I’m not just looking for excuses to read them all again, why would anyone think that… 👀) For now, I’ll just say that if you don’t know about them, or if you’ve seen the name “Beaumont and Beasley” around and just haven’t gotten around to picking them up for yourself yet, you should REALLY fix that. I heard the name around the indie fantasy writing community for a good long while before I finally read The Janus Elixer, a short story set within the Beaumont and Beasley series (which also serves as the set-up for a spin-off series within the same universe), kicking off my love of the series, and now I consider the Afterverse one of my main book fandoms.
A quick introduction for the uninitiated:
“Beaumont and Beasley” is set in a version of the English 1920s where fairytales, along with all their magic and monsters, really happened (and perhaps still happen). Book #1, “The Beast of Talesend,” kicks off the adventures of the characters for whom the series is named by introducing us to the plight of Nick Beasley, the skeptical detective who has made it his mission to disprove any and all claims of “magic” — that is, until he is swept into the schemes and misadventures of the magical underworld, including one adventurous young enchantress by the name of Lady Cordelia Beaumont. (Cordelia is incredible. If you’ve read the series, you’ll agree; if you haven’t read it yet, you’ll just have to take my word for it for now, and then you can agree once you’ve read them.)
And so, I found my inspiration. Or it found me, or it jumped off the digital pages of my kindle and grabbed hold of my imagination and refused to relinquish its hold. Whichever version you prefer.
After reading the series, I was so captivated and enchanted by the world of the Afterverse and its characters, and especially Cordelia, that I realized I would love to try designing and producing a costume based on what I imagined hers to be. I emailed Kyle Robert Shultz, the author, and asked for his permission before starting. While this certainly isn’t a requirement for creating cosplays, it was a step I wanted to include. It’s important to me that the wishes of an original creator are respected anytime one is making a “derivative work” based on their original concepts, especially if they plan to eventually share with it others on the internet, as I do with my cosplays. In this case, I wanted to let the author know how much I had enjoyed his stories, make sure I had his full approval before beginning on a project directly inspired by them, and, if approval was granted, ask if he had any suggestions for me to incorporate in my design that would fit with his original imagining of the character.
Kyle was very enthusiastic and wholeheartedly supported my idea, as well as provided some reference of what he imagined Cordelia’s personal style to be when he wrote the character. I already knew I was going to have to do plenty of research on the fashions of the period because I wanted my costume to feel at home with the feel and vibe of the real-world ’20s, even if the “alternate universe” detail did give a bit of wiggle room for my imagination to play in with my final design.
I got to work quickly, gathering resources, scrolling through countless hours of Pinterest photo boards full of actual ’20s photographs and authentic recreations, and reading articles about fashion history from sites like VintageDancer. I also studied and broke down the inspiration pictures Kyle had sent, eventually deciding on an outfit that I thought would fit the character and ordering a paper dress pattern from the vintage pattern reproduction company I had discovered in my research.
However, there is a small detail I’ve refrained from telling you thus far, just a tiny little thing, really, but one I should probably go ahead and share before we get any further into my tale of this cosplay’s creation:
The entire story I have recounted to you so far all happened about two years ago.
This is really about to turn into another one of those “Things Shay Started And Somehow Didn’t Finish Until A Really Dumb Amount Of Time Later” stories.
See, I had just received the pattern I ordered in the mail, unfolded it, and begun trying to make sense of the instructions, when all the craziness of my dad losing his job and our family’s two subsequent moves happened. During that time, I had no opportunities to work on this project — I could continue to research and plan for it (which I did), but no actual creation could take place.
But now that we’re settled and I’ve been able to set up a sewing/crafting/cosplay-building space in my new bedroom, I am back to work.
And I’m very excited to finally start sharing my process with you all here. In the next post, I plan to go more in-depth into my research and planning process for this costume, as it’s been very different from all the other cosplays I’ve made. It’s been a great challenge, and I’ve learned a ton about historical clothing and the progression of fashion and style, to the point that I now find myself leaning into my new knowledge when picking out outfits for everyday wear and shopping for new clothing. Like neckties. Seriously, with all the bad things 2020 has brought us so far, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could get ladies neckties back in-style?? (No, I’m not just saying that because Missy sometimes wears one in Doctor Who, even though I do think it looks excellent on her… 😏)
Before I go, I’ll leave you with a few lovely 1920s dresses I found on Pinterest and have used for inspiration for designing my own take on Cordelia’s outfit:
I hope you all enjoy this series as I continue to chronicle the creation of my Lady Cordelia cosplay!!
Have an excellent weekend!