For many of us, our only dalliances with fancy dress come at a select few touchpoints in life: perhaps a childhood birthday party, university bar crawl, stag/hen do or – if you’re lucky – the world’s greatest cake-meets-costumes charity initiative, Caketober.
But for others – namely cosplayers, who spend significant amounts of time and sometimes money emulating characters from movies, comics and video games – dressing up takes on much more meaning.
One such person is Jordan Southern, a technical consultant at theEword by day, but a leading UK cosplay star, who has appeared on stage at Manchester Comic Con, in photoshoots for Neo magazine and in PR material for video game publisher Capcom, in his spare time.
“It was actually Caketober that got me into cosplay,” reveals Jordan, fresh from his appearance in front of 600 people at Manchester Comic Con, at which he produced and performed two PAs – one based on Final Fantasy game, Crisis Core, and the other reprising perhaps his most popular creation, Dante (pictured above), from the Devil May Cry series of video games.
“It was three years ago when I first did Caketober. I was already a regular at conventions and had tickets for Comic Con. We felt out of place without costumes.
“I ended up dressing as the Joker for the first Caketober and that is what started it all off. Since then, I have dressed as other characters such as Dante – which is my utmost favourite – and [Final Fantasy characters] Cloud and Tidus. If the character is fun and fits my personality, it makes me want to do it.”
That desire is paramount, because, as Jordan reveals, some of his creations don’t come cheap – and can take several weeks to perfect.
“A basic costume can cost up to £90 to put together, including materials and extras. If it’s a much bigger cosplay, if it’s an armour build, with props, it might go up to £150.”
At last year’s Comic Con, Jordan appeared on stage posing for photos, performing moves from popular video games and waving to the audience. This year, he put together actual productions with dialogue taken from the source material.
This, he says, was done in response to a common request from convention attendees, who want the opportunity to interact with their favourite characters from movies and games.
“When I am with friends I will talk normally as myself, but if I am speaking to convention attendees, I will be more in character.
“They come to the events to ‘meet’ the characters and they go away happy. People will actually come up and ask me to say certain lines by their favourite characters and they go away with a smile on their face.”
This rising profile and the demand to be seen in character doesn’t apply just at conventions, either – Jordan has also starred in publicity material off the back of his cosplaying exploits, including being featured in the launch campaign for Devil May Cry 4.
“I was on my PS4 downloading the game and thought it would be a good photo opp if I put on the Dante costume and took a selfie waiting for the game to download. I shared it with the head of social media at Capcom and they used it in their campaign for the game.”
So what tips has Jordan got to share for anyone thinking about dressing up this Caketober – or even going further and getting involved in the world of cosplay?
“The most important thing is finding someone that you really want to dress up as – not because of hype, but because you love the character. Try to get a price together, to see how much the whole costume would end up costing.
“Set a deadline for how long the costume will take to put together, but be flexible with it, because you don’t want a hobby to become a chore.
“The most important thing is to find someone you would enjoy dressing up as. If you can do that, you will enjoy the day even more. It can be a good social thing – generating chat when you see someone dressed as a character you love. Ask other people for advice on how they achieved their costumes etc.
“Do it for fun, it should be something you want to do. If it is, you will have a great time.”
Sound fun? Find out more information on why you should get involved in Caketober.
Photography kindly provided by Pouncy Photography