* Craftsmanship Judges' Award
Anime Boston 2006 * Best In Show
Another Anime Con 2008
Final Fantasy VIII was the second game in the series in which Yoshitaka Amano was not the primary character designer; nevertheless he completed several pieces of art for the main cast of characters, including Rinoa. In Amano's interpretation of her, Rinoa appears as a blonde with a red, gold, and orange color scheme, a well as a full set of feather angel wings. Her duster appears to lightly billow in the breeze and includes elegantly draped fabric which attaches to her arms. In classic Amano fashion, her wardrobe is peppered with beads and other small details.
2006 was the height of the Amano cosplay craze, and I wanted to take on the challenge of an Amano-inspired costume. In interpreting Rinoa I wanted to stay away from overwhelming it; some Amano cosplays looked like they were bedazzled within an inch of their lives, whereas I wanted to maintain the ethereal feel of Amano’s paintings. With that in mind I leaned heavily into the "inspired" part of the design rather than trying to replicate the painting exactly. In that vein I picked a rich red brocade as a base, and using my regular Rinoa duster as its own pattern, made the top half in three sections from the brocade and fastened it with a black button and the front. This was my first time working with brocade and I struggled with its determination to fray at every point possible; I had no clue at the time about sealing the edges with heat or even lining things. I finally I got the top to my liking and made two wing appliqués out of white satin which I sewed to the back. The bottom half of the duster I made from two layers of sheer yellow silk and then embroidered a flower pattern on the back using individual gold beads and sequins. I wish I had time to made the entire thing from beads instead of sequins as the flowers looked a bit tacky, but it was still a painstaking process regardless.
For the arms I made an armband from the brocade with Rinoa’s black ribbon over it for the left arm and an arm warmer from the brocade and yellow silk for the right. I replicated the embroidered flower pattern on the warmer. I then attached the “wing” fabrics; yellow and red silks of various textures that attached to my arm bands and then circled around to the back of the duster like a cape. The wrap skirt was made of several contrasting fabrics and a brocade sash, held on with a sequined belt. Finally, I wanted to make Rinoa’s feather wings; I had never made feather wings before and looked at several tutorials before starting. The frame I bent from wire and then covered it with white garbage bags. I then shaped about 100 bleached turkey flat feathers, arranged them onto the bags and glued them on with gem glue. I then filled in the edges with round feathers and they are held on the shoulders with straps. Overall, it's still a tossup as to whether this costume turned out pretty or tacky depending on personal tastes; I like the color scheme and I think for the most part this came out pretty well. I'm proudest of those feather wings; they are pretty beat up now, but they held up for many wears on several costumes and I am impressed even now with how they looked when they were new. This is a costume I can see making again; it would be nice to try with what I know now about sewing.