Amira was my entry in the Anime Boston 2017 masquerade. It was another complex build that I tried to squeeze into too little time, but I was so very fortunate at how well it turned out. I did not sleep the night before the competition for trying to get every last stitch of embroidery completed in time. The work paid off, as I won first place master division craftsmanship, the second-highest craftsmanship award in the competition. This is one of the toughest competitions on the east coast, and I am so excited to have taken home one of the top prizes! She later went on, after many more grueling months, to win third place in the needlework category at New York Comic Con 2017.
The character of Amira, from the manga Bride Stories, is a 19th century Turkic woman from an unspecified region. Though in an arranged marriage to a boy much younger than she is, she is an independent woman who frequently does other than she ought to.
I was wary of cultural appropriation/exploitation when approaching this costume. Since there are so many regional costume differences in the Turkic region, and I lacked the benefit of knowing from which region Amira hails, I conducted general research into the cut and construction of Ottoman garments. This allowed me to draft all my garments as close to the way they ought to have been as possible. That meant introducing some changes to the original design. One such change can be seen in the hang of the sleeves.
The entire costume is hand embroidered using cotton embroidery thread, synthetic and metal thread, glass beads, metal passing, mirrors, and steel paillets. I received copious compliments from the masquerade judges about how neat my embroidery is on the reverse.
As much as possible I adhered to materials that would have been available in Turkey in the 19th century. The coat and hat are wool, the underdress is cotton, and the pants, vest, and scarf are silk. The boots I also made. They were drafted, like the other garments, based on cutting layouts of Ottoman footwear, tooled, wet-molded, and tinted. I should be clear that, as I had never made a pair of boots like this before, the outcome was pleasing and wholly comfortable.
In the photos below you'll see a progression of changes in the costume, from its first iteration in April 2017 until the final stage of completion in October of that year for New York Comic Con. This encompassed an enormous amount of additional embroidery, my bow, quiver and arrows, a 12-braid wool quiver belt, a complete remake of my necklaces, new triangular side pieces on my hat, and the decision to double French braid my own hair in place of my original wig.
(You'll have to excuse my lack of photos for the moment, as of December 2017 New York Comic Con has yet to post their official masquerade photos, of which a great deal were taken and among which I hope are some excellent ones!)
|Photography by David G. Whitham/DGW Photography|
Left: Photography by Andrea Pierce/SDE Photography
Right: Photography by Rodrigo Ramirez
Left: Photography by Rodrigo Ramirez
Right: Photography by Madd Joey
Chemise, front and back
Left to right: Handstitched finishing inside cap, beaded edge of headscarf, braided ties at center front closure on chemise
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Left to right: short necklace, prayer box necklace, 12-strand braid hair tie and quiver belt
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