As someone who has been cosplaying since the 2000s it’s amazing how much has changed from what it was to what it is. A cosplayer from Copenhagen, an actress, cosplayer, and gamer- please meet Celeste Orchid.
Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
Hi hi! I’m Marissa, my cosplay-gamer tag is Celeste Orchid. Feel free to call me either. I’ve been cosplaying since 2005, and have multiple awards in craftsmanship and performance. I still cosplay on my YouTube channel despite the pandemic.
Your nickname is “Celeste Orchid”. Why did you pick it to be your nickname?
There’s a huge trend for cosplayers to have a nickname when cosplaying rather than using their real name. I liked the idea of having a very feminine angelic sounding cosplay name. Originally I wanted something like TommyHeavenly6 but figured it’d be weird to have a number in it. So I used a thesaurus to come up with celestial and shortened it to Celeste. Orchid is a combination of a few things: my favorite flower, my favorite color, and Kaldea Orchid from The Bouncer on PlayStation 2.
How would you define cosplay? What is your favorite part of it?
Cosplay is literally costume-play. But really it’s a creative form of appreciation and expression. Anyone can do it, and whether it’s thrifted items or created from scratch, anyone can cosplay. Just remember, cosplay isn’t here to hurt one another but to bring us together.
My favorite part is seeing what people can create and bring to life. I wouldn’t call it a fashion since we can’t wear it every day but I love the creativity that everyone brings to the cosplay table.
How do you store your costumes up? Do you have any tips/tricks you’d like to share?
Storing costumes is actually super funny for me. I have a closet filled with bags from grocery stores. Each bag has all of the items for a cosplay minus the wig. For smaller accessories, I put them inside a zip lock bag. Wigs I keep in a bag inside a big container. I used to try to hang up all my costumes but the storage space here is very limited.
Highly recommend using the bag or box situation to help keep all the pieces together. It’ll be better if it all fits inside cubbies and folded.
Which cosplay are you the most proud of?
The cosplay I’m most proud of is definitely one of my older pieces I made in 2011; seems like ages ago. I entered this cosplay in New York Comic Con‘s costume contest and won Best Craftsmanship with my friend LuckyGrim Cosplay. This was before the explosion of EVA foam tutorials and thermoplastics. I used thermoplastics for the first time on this cosplay and am very happy to have won with it.
Btw; do NOT layer two contacts on top of each other. That is all.
What enticed you to make your own cosplays? What is your favorite material to work with?
When I was a kid I always wanted nice Halloween costumes. Sadly Halloween stores never sold things that I wanted; they were all generic. One fateful day someone brought a NewType magazine in class. I learned about cosplay and how people actually created their own costumes. Until then I never understood that I had that option until seeing that magazine with cosplayers in it. After I remember going home and researching as much as I could about it. It wasn’t until a few years later that I actually started cosplaying with my own budget. I always loved the clothing from anime, comics and video games and wanted it for myself. Since the means during the early 2000’s weren’t available like they are now, I had to make my own.
I love to work with fabric and beads. But my FAVORITE fabric is stretch taffeta. It’s like the cheaper and forgiving version of silk. I love the feeling it gives and it has this nice sheen to it. I even have a specific place I buy it from in Los Angeles. As for beads, I made jewelry before I started sewing. So they were my default to go to.
What are the three most essential things to have with you when cosplaying at a convention? How long does it take you to get put together?
I always absolutely need eye make up with me. When I smile too much or shut my eyes tight, they tend to hit my waterline very hard so my makeup pays the price. Usually, my false eyelashes fall off first and then it smears my eyeliner. So if I want to be perfect, I need to always check my eye make up and see if it’s still on my face.
Bring a change of clothes! For sure it’s cool to be in cosplay for an event, but what about when you want to be out of it and your feet hurt? Bringing something to change into really helps; if you can bring one that is. For most people, they rent a hotel room or drive to a location so it’s easy to bring a change of clothes. If that’s not the case definitely make sure to at least have a change of shoes. Your feet will be so happy later.
Lastly, definitely bring a friend or buddy. It’s okay to go and meet up with people but if it’s your first time it’s better to go with someone so you don’t feel so left out. You can make friends at an event but in case of emergency, it’s good to have someone nearby that you know and can help out.
I mentioned that some people get changed in their car or in a hotel room. If it is a hotel room I’m getting ready, I usually take my time. So I’d say 1.5 to 2 hours to get ready. If I’m changing at my car, I might only be a few minutes to fix my make up or throw on my wig and grab my prop. Really just depends on what cosplay I’m wearing.
What are your thoughts on the cosplay communities and the world of cosplay today compared to when you first started?
Oh my, how the cosplay times have changed. I started cosplaying in 2005. I remember people using satin and cotton as their normal basis for standard costume making. No one really went crazy over fabric types or crazy sewing builds like we see today. There used to be a lot of aluminum foil in cosplays back then too. At the beginning, we only had Amphigory Wigs and if you were able to get a nice wig off of Ebay it was a Godsend. A lot of people had the resolve to use Sharpie markers and hand-color a whole wig to make it the right shade. Cosplayers back in the day just resorted to using their natural hair without dying it really. There weren’t many tutorials back in the day either so it was a lot of testing and go with it.
The community has changed so much. Especially with how you can make an income off of cosplay. We have ready-made cosplay shops ready to be sent to your doorstep, colored contacts; which started getting bigger as of 2008ish, and now specialized wig companies. With the boom of thermoplastics and EVA foam tutorials, cosplayers can now expand to armor much easier than before.
There weren’t many cosplay pages in the past that you could go to. I remember Yaya Han‘s old site of AngelicStar, Kevin Lillard‘s AFansView, Melissa Wilson‘s ICosplay.com, and AngelCosplay as my favorite sites to go to. Deviantart was one way to get your cosplay shared in the past. For me it was using MySpace and Livejournal, but I don’t know if people still use those sites. Obviously now there are tons more cosplayers who have their own sites and run commissions. Some of the first sites that were purely cosplay based were CosplayLab (which is now shut down), ACParadise.com, and Cosplay.com. It’s been a weird journey to see how it’s evolved into the state that it is now.
There weren’t many conventions in the early years of cosplay. You’d hear about the big ones and that’s it. Some college somewhere might start a tiny run anime event but that was the extent of it. It wasn’t until later that more cons popped up and now the older cons became much bigger conventions; that is if they lasted to that age. A lot of events died out due to poor location and management. But I think we’re lucky to have more than 3 events a year once it gets more saturated.
Before photo shoots we always had hall photos. That’s not to say some more hardcore idealists actually went out of their way to leave the convention for photos. This changed as time moved on and we didn’t stay stuck inside the convention itself anymore and moved to location shoots.
I remember that it was so important to me to always have a new cosplay for each event. I look back on it now and it was a silly idea. Sometimes I’d never get my photos back from one shoot so I should have worn a costume more. It’s heartbreaking when you thought a photographer was going to upload but really they never did.
It is kinda scary when I think back on it that I was younger and some photographers agreed to take my photos for free and then never gave them to me. It’s one thing if you’re doing it for free, it’s one thing to lose the files due to corruption or error, but it’s another when you never get them back. I think that’s something that hasn’t changed. Luckily with the powers of social media, it’s faster than ever to just drag a picture and click upload and boom: done. Don’t have to worry about it anymore and you can go on your merry way.
Cosplaying and conventions can be daunting now, especially since a lot of us older generation nerds still want to go and have fun with our families. Sometimes it’s not so family-friendly with the addition of sex appeal into cosplays. Before we didn’t see too many families with toddlers or youngsters going with them in cosplay. With something like D23 Expo you can certainly see kids there. Although I’m probably one of those weird people who bring their dog to conventions and have them cosplay with me. For what it’s worth, she loved all of the attention.