While the majority of the design was taken from the cover of the canon novel, ideas for Lilith’s footwear, neck, and dress bottom were taken from the tarot card.
The dress pattern was taken from a modified Simplicity pattern for a period dress from the early 1900’s. The dress was originally a dress and a jacket, but the patterns were modified to form a tighter fitting one-piece dress with a train that was a self-made pattern. The fabric consisted of a heavy bridal satin, bridal jacquard, and white lining.
Lilith’s giant ponytail was constructed using a foam ball painted brown with hair extentions sewn on to the curved surface. Bra straps were threaded through the foam ball to provide four points of attachment to the wig/wearer’s head for stabilization.
The shoes were store bought and then modified: extra material was removed and hand-strung beads with magnetic clasps were applied. Finally, flowers were hand-painted and wired onto the t-strap.
Pieces of the dress that would be hidden by the corset were still given the same treatment, i.e., piping. All parts of the dress except the sleeves are lined, including the train, which was lined exclusively by hand sewing. Strips of elastic were used to create the lined look of the dress’s front. All bells, over 130 of them, were hand-sewn onto the corset, collar, sleeves, and arm/ankle bands. Detail on the sleeves was also hand-sewn and an original design.
The high collar was achieved by the use of craft foam, which was cut according to a custom pattern and ironed into a 3-dimensional shape.
The dress’s unusual corset was very loosely based off of a Simplicity pattern and heavily modified. The two-piece corset contains panels of craft foam with piping along the edges. Edges were ironed to allow for the same “shelf” effect that is seen on the collar. The corset fits better when the dress is worn without the wings; this is because the backboard of the wings rests in the small of my back for extra stability...and this happens to be the same space occupied by the corset.
Arm accessories consist of 12-gauge floral aluminum wire, leather straps with bells sewn on, and pieces of craft foam inserted into specialized fabric. All pieces were sewn either by hand or machine and are attached by snaps or industrial strength Velcro.
Shoulder accessories such as the shoulder pad were hand-sewn and attached to the dress by hand sewing. The shoulder pad was painted by hand, and the off-shoulder sari-like scarf is double-sided (4 spools of silver ribbon sewn by machine).
Remaining accessories such as flowers, nails, and tubular hair decorations were created mostly by hand. The nails were brass dancing claws from Thailand, but the thumb nails were hand-made using aluminum sheeting. Nails had to be sanded, primed, and then painted. The tubular hair decorations are Vinyl tubing, straightened by boiling in water on a metal rod and then hand-painted. The designs on the hair decorations were created by hot glue. The earrings were a gift from a friend. The belly-button decoration was modified from a bridal clip and applied to the body by spirit gum.
Lilith has extensive headgear besides the ponytail. The white hat was hand-made by using aluminum floral wire as a frame, and then fabric was sewn on by hand. All sequins and decorations were hand-sewn. The “handlebars” were a pair of heavily-wired long-stemmed silk peonies wrapped together with veterinary bandaging tape and painted with modge-podge. Metal balls were hand-sewn on and one of the peonys needed to be hand-dyed pink (it was white). The prop was then painted white with a special spray paint for plastics. The pendulums with balls were made using Styrofoam balls painted with 3 layers of modge-podge and a final coat of metallic paint. The pendulum attaches to the branch by a hook and ring mechanism. All pieces were sewn together (except for the balls) and have glue only as a reinforcement. To help support the heavy “handlebars and pendulums” apparatus, a wire frame was constructed that sits on my head and is pinned in to the cornrows that I had professionally braided close to my scalp. The design of the frame and the placement of cornrows help to distribute the weight more evenly (though it is still not very comfortable). The wig fits over the wire apparatus nicely, allowing the wires in the back to poke through on either side of the large ponytail. The “handlebars” fit into the back, and the aluminum wires can be wrapped tightly to keep the prop in place. This also allows for proper placement of the handlebars according to the canon novel image.
The large, moveable wings were created by Inoli, all by hand. Several pounds of feathers, pulleys, and cables make up the three pairs of wings. To create these wings took extensive communication between myself and Inoli, as she needed exact measurements of and information regarding the design of the dress (I live in Florida, Inoli is in Colorado). Being a wildlife veterinarian, I provided Inoli with images of wings from different species of birds to show her how feather were aligned and how wing shape and feather design vary differently from bird to bird. In the end, Lilith’s wings are a combination of tern-type wings and raptor-type wings, allowing for a beautiful shape but maximizing space.
Due to the exposed skin of Lilith’s front and the design of the dress, an elaborate harness system had to be designed to allow for good weight distribution, proper alignment, and ease of extended wear. The tarot card image has a strap going underneath Lilith’s breasts; this idea was used to help cover the support strap that is necessary for the large wings. In order to be moveable, it was important to have fabric that would stretch with wing movement, like a bird’s skin normally would. Inoli chose this fabric and painstakingly applied each feather. The harness, pulleys, and cables are all Inoli’s original designs. The backpiece and straps were made white in order to prevent them from showing under the dress.
I am grateful for Lilith’s rosary, which was also made by Inoli, who already had the mold (Inoli cosplays Abel, who had Lilith’s rosary in the story). This beautiful piece was made by hand and also hand-wired and painted/antiqued. I added a very light coat of paint to brighten it up a bit, as Lilith’s accessories are shiny and new, whereas by the time Abel is seen with the rosary, it is much older.
Finally, the extensive body make-up was hand-applied by Myalchod after several test runs with various materials. It was important to come up with a blue color that was sweatproof and would not come off on the white dress (Ben Nye Paint and Sealer was perfect).
In conclusion, this cosplay took over a year’s worth of work and an insurmountable amount of hours. It is a costume that requires assistance getting into, moving about, and getting out of. Lilith was made with the intent of many years of use, so all pieces were made as sturdy as possible. It was truly a labor of love, and I will continue to wear her as long as I can.
2nd Place, Anime Expo 2009
1st Place, GenCon Indy 2009 Anime Division