Thursday, July 7, 2011

Robin!Ciel Phantomhive: A Closer Look

This is basically the cosplay research and notes of a mental person.

The Origins of this Madness
So I was rereading my friend's volume 2 of Black Butler, and I realized practically every detail that I've NEVER NOTICED about Ciel's trap dress. Then it hit me: I was missing SO MUCH on my cosplay. I've done so much wrong! There are so many details on there that I am missing! Oh dear! In this post, I will be cataloging every single part of his dress that I can see. I will not do this from the anime. The dress is way different in the anime! Friends tell me "No, not really…" but if you stare at them both, there are actually huge obvious details. Also, the anime does not provide significant details…. plus I just don't plain like it. There's no way Ciel has green hair. -_- But I digress…

The Skirt Shape
It may be a ball gown, but the shape is perplexing. Usually, present day ball gowns are widest near the bottoms, while Victorian England ones are more bulbous at the top near the waist. The first few tries for mine were more like present day dresses, or a different-era hoop skirt like this that are widest at the bottom. It truly is that of a rounded cupcake or "ball" from the waist-not hip.

I've drawn a circle on the photo above to show that his dress is very rounded at the top, not at the bottom. It does not slant outwards like an upside down "V" It's more like an upside down "U". I am obsessive about this shape. I love it when people get it right. I'm still trying! He probably has hip bustles or some sort of cage. I'd never use a cage, though. Too much work :). I have a slight hoop now, just two, one at knee height to keep my petti from deflating and one at hip height to help with the round, upside down "U" shape, along with a pillow bustle to make sure I have the large volume in the back. I have diagramed the upside-down "U" shape and it pretty much is exact!

(photo above) From the side, it is very Victorian. Skirts and dresses never really went out forwards from a lady's waist back in the day, thus Ciel's dress is fairly flat in front, and very big in the back. The bustle stands very far out from his body, proportionally speaking. Bustles back in the day were cages, hoops, or ruffled undergarments, even pillows stuffed with straw or stuffing rigged to a belt. Another outstanding example of a bustle is Madam Red, and it shows through her very fitted skirts. Mine is a pillow folded over a belt and pinned as a make-shift bustle. It really helps a lot! I'm kind of cheap right now with things that do not show so I just do that every time instead of making one.

Skirt Ruffles/Layers

There is a lot of interesting layers and ruffles, I'd have to say. They're certainly not pleats, though I'll admit pleats would be accurate to the time period. First off, the ruffles on the very bottom of the skirt reach about 3/4 around until you get to the back panel. There are two layers of ruffles, the top one secured by a black ribbon. The back panel has four layers/ruffles that overlap each other. In the manga, there isn't quite a clear shot of the back, but luckily there is the character sheet. The edges of the four back ruffles are actually edged with lace and ribbon. The latter is a guess, it looks like white-on-white. There are stripes of ribbon, there is no way of knowing what color it is since it's not straight up black. Perhaps white or pink. That's another difference between the manga and anime, manga they're white, anime they're black ribbons.

The HAT!

The hat is so perplexing. The brim changes shape all the time. The brim consistencies are that it is curved upwards towards the center of his head. Sometimes it is shaped in a gentle "V". Sometimes it is flat, but mostly curved. The flowers are really interesting too. The flowers are not all the same size. The biggest flower is right in front of his eye, and they get smaller the further they are away from the front. The flowers stop right on the crown of his head and right before the side ponytail, and they do not continue all the way around the back. The number of flowers changes from 5 to 6 intermittently. Sometimes the hat sits on top of the flowers that sit on top of his head, and sometimes the hat sits on his head with flowers on the brim instead. The ribbon securing his hat goes behind his ears and ties on the (his) left side. The ribbons coming off of the back of the hat are wavy, so if they were cut as half circles, they would hang the same way, unless they're pleated, that would also work too. They barely reach his shoulders, they're not too long.

Skirt Length
Unfortunately, in the manga this changes a bit. Mostly, it's shown ankle length, showing off his cute boots, but sometimes it hits the floor.

Shoulder Ruffles

I think this is a super cute part of the dress. I feel like a lot of people make this too small and people center the black ribbon on the ruffle. The ruffle edge above the ribbon is smaller than the ruffle edge below it. It's not evenly separated by the black ribbon.

This always gets me miffed. I believe his hair is a steely gray with a tint of blue. Only a tint, though. "I just can't see a 12 year old boy with gray hair!" Can you see a woman having bright firetruck red hair either? This is the anime world. I understand that his hair looks pretty much green in the anime, especially in the fourth episode, but if you compare all of the pictures of all the artwork of the manga, his manga hair is steely gray with a slight blue tint. It seems that in the manga he is using clip ons to his normal hair, thus the reason for his usual bangs and not different bangs if it were a wig. His pigtails sit pretty level with the top of his head, and only go down to just above his elbows. They only start curling near the ends into four or five tendrils, they are not curly all the way down.


Not much to say, but it's actually got two small rows of skinny ribbons on it, on the top edge and on the bottom edge of the pink. This is almost always missed. I suppose these ribbons are the same color as the ones edging the rest of the dress. Also! It's not velcro'd or buttoned or anything, it's actually clasped by a hook and chain. I totally didn't notice this. There is one panel showing the back of his choker and it's chained together like a necklace that adjusts to sizes.

Skirt Trim
This is where I even confuse myself sometimes. The art makes it seem like there is a black trim at the bottom of the pink part of the skirt, almost like a fringe, but as an artist (though not a super fab one), I know it's dramatic shading. The dark edges are shaped and flow like the shape of the ruffles do. Plus, the shading is really only present in about three panels. I believe there is not black lace on it. There is regular white lace, little round scalloped lace that edges the pink skirt ruffles, the butt-bow edges, and the four skirt ruffles on the back panel. There is also two stripes of ribbon that go along the edges of the ruffles on the pink skirt.

Black Bows
The black bows in the front are portrayed as ribbons, not the big black bows that are normally done. I actually like the aesthetic feel of the bigger black, non-ribbony bows. My bows are fat, I like them that way.

Nothing much to say, it's trimmed at the ends of the bow the same way the edge of the pink part of the skirt is. Ribbon stripes and lace trim. It sits right at the base of the waist, right where the dress poofs backwards. The bow is floppy, not perky.

His gloves aren't even over the elbow, they're almost up to his armpits. They pretty much end only a couple of inches lower than the shoulder ruffles. I always thought they were shorter, but they're sooooo long.


Though we do not see them in the manga that much, they're there. Especially on the manga character sheets. On both the character sheets and in the manga the dress is shown as ankle length, not floor, but in other panels it changes to just a few inches off the floor. This is a key difference in the anime. You can see Ciel's adorable shoes in the manga; they are shown in this character sheet. They are long, probably mid-calf to knee-high leather shoes with pointed toes, a very skinny heel, and they lace up. In most pictures, they seem to be all black, but in one panel of a close up of the shoe (p35), they have only leather around the bottom of the shoe and it turns to fabric in the center, making a nice design. Shoes are shoes, I say, but trying to get a victorian leather lace up boot would be nice. Sometimes, on dvd cover art and in the art books, they have a pink ribbon with white ruffles-like the collar- almost like a garter belt, going around the shoe- under the arch and over the foot. I think they're a cute design.

While I'm on this topic, I may as well write about fabric. Let's talk facts: Ciel Phantomhive lives in the victorian era. He is a noble of high class, and is rich to boot. He has a private clothes designer. In the manga, chapter 37, page 12-ish, it actually says "pink dress with lots of muslin." We don't know if it's talking about the entire thing is made of muslin, or just parts of it, or even just parts of the petticoat and ruffles. Who knows. But what I do know that muslin is not a great fabric, there are plenty of other good ones. There's always the rule of "NO SATIN" for cosplay, but there's many reasons satin is a perfectly acceptable fabric to use. Nobles of the victorian era wore fabrics like cotton, crepe, velvet, and satin. The latter two are considered luxury fabrics, which only the nobility owned and wore. Cotton was usually worn for casual dresses and suits in the summer, while satin was reserved for parties, such as the Viscount's, and special occasions throughout the year. There are pros and cons for satin for cosplay purposes. Often, you can find it cheap (I got my Circus!Ciel satin for 2.99 a yard), but it won't be fabulous quality. Not all satins are made equal. For a super luxurious feel, duchess satin is perfect, though more expensive. It has a dull sheen, not shine. If you go for cotton, get high quality. You don't want it to be so thin you can see through it. It may even not be heavy enough to hide your hoops or petticoat and you'd have weird bulges.

All I can say is: man, I have work to do! It completely blew my mind how much I've missed about this outfit. My dress feels so …. bare. I hope this completely mental breakdown and dissection of this outfit helps someone somewhere. Comment if it helped!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

eBay Review: CosplayWig - Luka Magnet Wig

I finally received my Luka wig in the mail, and I love it, so I shall do a review!

Product Name: 36" Milkshake Curly Magnet Luka Wig
Shop: CosplayWig on eBay
Price: 36.99
Shipping: 10.99
Shipping Time: 1.5 weeks from order to door
Actual Length: 36" roots to longest curl/ 42" straightened length
Color: Mixed pink milkshake
Fit: normal size heads with adjustable straps
Comes in/with: arrives in a padded, brown envelope, wrapped in a net bag, with a free black mesh cap, and a Miku thank you card.

My Opinions:
I love this wig. It arrived really quickly, was relatively cheap (especially since the corresponding wig at cosworx was in the fifties without shipping), and was great quality! I've always known that CosplayWig is one of the most trusted cosplay wig shops in the world, and I was dying to own a wig from them. The wig itself is very thick, smooth, and not shiny. It's mixed fibers give a very natural look and the curls are very nicely styled. The wig shedded a bit when I first got it, but after combing it a little bit, it doesn't shed anymore. The curls arrive in about 5-6 big curls, and to be a more curly wig, the curls need to be separated, which is very easy to do. The bangs are really nice and long and you can style them anyway you'd like. I like them off to the side.


(Front view with flash)

(Back view with flash)

(Back view without flash, indoor lighting)

(Unseparated curl closeup)

(Skintop without flash, indoor lighting)

(Thank You card featuring Miku)

All in all, I love this wig, and I can't wait to use it for many Luka cosplays in the future!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Luka Sandplay" Cosplay Review: Cleacn

KnightEm's Cosplay Commission/Brand Reviews:

I recently bought "Ruka Luxury Updated [Vocaloid] cosplay costume" sold by Cleacn on eBay. The page is here.

TIME FRAME: It took 6 weeks from the moment I ordered to the moment it arrived.

PRICE: About~$219

COMES WITH: Dress with built in petticoat, butt-bow, chest-bow, arm sleeves, 2 blue gem brooches, very long gold chain, several hairpins with rhinestones, two strings of pearls, golden decals, hair accessories, a few extra pearls and rhinestones in case of losing some.

COMMUNICATION: They usually emailed back within 24 hours. At first, I expected my cosplay in 4 weeks. But "due to a large amount of orders, making time has increased to 1-2 months," it was going to go over my deadline, so I emailed them about it. They put a rush order on it and I got it in time.

Overall dress (without add-ons, laying against a chair)

CONSTRUCTION: It's really well made. Everything has sturdy sewing. It doesn't feel like it's going to fall apart. Edges are serged. There's even those strappy things in the armpits so you can hang it on a hanger properly. The corset-looking part around the waist is thick, so it doesn't look lumpy. The fabrics are nice. The black underskirt and the corset bodice parts are a really heavy satiny fabric. It's not shiny, but its got a great sheen that is luxurious. The tulle is cut cleanly. The fabric choice on the top chest piece is nice and has nice lacey details. IT DOES NOT COME ASSEMBLED. I have to attach all the bows, chains, brooches, gold embroidery, pearls to it myself as they came in a plastic bag. I was kinda disappointed that the gold parts weren't on the black waist part, but they are iron on. The ribbon (red, black, and white) on the arm sleeves and bodice are serged with white thread, which is actually kinda a turn off, but is accurate to seller photos. The flowy tails on the chestbow are serged with white thread too, and it's not that attractive. The buttbow is nicely made and is not droopy at all. The sleeves are nicely made, and fit well too. They aren't flowy and will not flop around. The petticoat built in is perfect and keeps the flounce. I was initially worried about it. It fits me well, but a bit loosely but that's because of my 'wonderful' conversions from inches to centimeters.

ACCURACY: I'd have to say it's mostly accurate to the pictures of the seller. The tulle at the bottom looks different than the pictures. In the picture above, the black tulle at the bottom is more "piece-y" and not in ruffly layers that are shown in the seller pictures. The "piece-y" parts are actually angled shapes of tulle sewn onto the black satin underskirt (easily seen in the main picture above). Their are longer black tulle strips sewn onto it that drag, just as they do in the seller pictures. The main thing that is NOT accurate to the seller photos is the purple bubbly part of the skirt. On the dress I received, it isn't raunched and 'bubbled' as well as the pictures. The dress I received has really even bubbles, that are placed and spaced so evenly that it kinda looks like petals (example here). I'm actually really sad about this part. But the cool thing is, it's really just a purple overskirt that's tacked on lightly to 'bubble'. I can untack it and bubble it the way I want to. Hair accessory provided does not look like one pictured.

ACCESSORIES: It comes with quite a few things. Of course, the butt-bow and chest-bow are not attached. They come with two small safety pins to attach it to the dress. I plan on sewing them on. No big deal there. The two blue brooches, one for the skirt and one for the chest-bow, are almost like hair clips, and I plan on tacking those on permanently as well. The pearl strands, flower with tulle, and several hairpins are obviously hair accessories. The flower is very nice, but doesn't come with anything to attach to your hair/wig. It's ok because some people have different ways to attach things to wigs. The gold chain is SUPERRRR long. It's supposed to wrap around you several times and drape over the skirt. I have yet to find a good way to wrap it, but they provide a very long chain so I can cut it to see what length I need.


COMPLAINTS: Weird bubbling on the purple overskirt. Serging with white thread. Pretty long on me. It arrived in a cloth package, which is kinda strange. How much I'll have to alter it.
COMPLIMENTS: Well constructed, easy to alter, pretty accurate to seller pictures, lots of accessories, good petticoat underneath, nice seller communication, fast shipping.

Worth the buy: To me? UH PROM, so yes. To you? You decide.