time completed: Mid May 2012
hours spent: 50+
worn at: Fanime 2012, A-kon 2012, Anime Expo 2012, San Diego Comic Con 2012, Otakon 2012
Why I chose to make this costume:
I grew up playing the Street Fighter games and Chun Li was always my go-to character! Of course I have wanted to cosplay Chun Li for years, and have gathered an abundance of reference and no less than 3 different brands of wrestling boots for her. But before I could get to default Chun Li, I discovered an amazing piece of art on Deviantart, by talented artist Razvan-Sedekiah. She designed an Art Nouveau version of Chun Li and it was so up my alley aesthetically, I had to make the costume. I thought it was a great stylish translation of an Iconic character, as a costume project more challenging than a default Chun Li costume would have been and still very recognizable as the character.
How I made this costume:
I created the full costume, using luxurious fabrics such as dupioni silk and silk taffeta. The top is built around a bra, and a lot had to be hand stitched on. To add more texture, I pin tucked the top, and chose a pleated gold taffeta to complement the turquoise fabric. I made a new underbust corset pattern, following the design specs of the turn around reference image. It is fully lined and boned, and the edge is bound in the same dupioni silk. The skirts were also patterned and sewn by me. All the trims and swirls are embroidered on, free hand on my sewing machine. I drew the designs directly on the corset, skirts, collar etc., then slowly traced them with a satin stitch, changing the width as needed to taper into the swirls. Of course the last designs I embroidered on looked the best, after many hours of practice. Swirls are the most difficult designs to satin stitch as you have to turn the fabric while the needle is going. I highly recommend practicing it on scrap fabrics.
The capped sleeves are faux sleeves because in order to recreate the design of the sleeves with the vertical lines, I had to iron pleats into the sheer fabric, then hand gather it to the sleeve bands. I also had to add boning to the sleeves to make them stand up, and it took 3 tries to get the design right. I actually love my half "sleeves" because there is air flow to my arm pits haha.
I had a lot of fun making the charms, hair buns and spike wrist guards. I read the spikes in the design artwork as ivory or marble instead of metal, and in keeping with the turn of the century art nouveau style, my spikes are an opalescent ivory color. The wrist guards themselves are foam covered in pleather. The hair buns are hollow and built over plastic half circles so I can stick them over my own hair brainded and rolled into buns.
I butchered a pair of white boots and embroidered directly on the pleather to replicate the boots in the design. I was criticized for having heels but since this is an Art Nouveau take on Chun Li, small heels are actually appropriate!
Also, some people remarked that it looks like I'm not wearing underwear - well, I am wearing 3 pairs of tights so I am decent lol. Again, it's to follow the art design accurately. I will however make a pair of blue panties to wear other the tights to shut people up.
My thoughts on this costume:
All together, there was a lot of detail work on this costume, and many hours of hand sewing. It was a fun and enjoyable costume project, and I had no idea how well this cosplay would be received by the public. A part of me wondered if people would recognize me as Chun Li but from the moment I stepped out of my room at Fanime, folks were yelling "Chun Li" and asking for photos. I personally love that I can use my own hair with this cosplay and not worry about a hot wig at summer cons. It is also surprisingly comfortable and I can do action poses and stay in it for several hours at a time.
Many people thought this version of Chun Li is an alternate costume from one of the games, and I wish it was. I absolutely love Razvan-Sedekiah and thank her so giving me inspiration to make what is now one of my favorite costumes.
Photography by EmanonDesign - Thank you Benny for the genius idea of using a Chinese restaurant as the letting for our Chun Li shoot. So perfect!
Photography by Martin Wong (1 - 3), Paul Tien (4 - 5), Darkain and BlizzardTerrak