Montreal

Montreal cosplayer pours 'heart and soul' into elaborate costumes for Comiccon

Emilie Gauvin is a seamstress in Cirque du Soleil's costume shop and a devoted cosplayer. Comic conventions are something she looks forward to all year.

Emilie Gauvin is a seamstress in Cirque du Soleil's costume shop and a devoted cosplayer

Emilie Gauvin spent months making an elaborate costume which she wore to Montreal Comiccon on Friday. For her, it's all about having fun and sharing in the community of fellow fans. (Marilla Steuter-Martin/CBC)

For cosplayers, Montreal Comiccon is a place to see and be seen.

People spend months designing, crafting and sewing to create resplendent costumes that evoke their favourite characters from movies, television, video games, manga and, of course, comic books.

​Emilie Gauvin is no exception.

The professional seamstress works in Cirque du Soleil's costume shop and traces that career back to Comiccon.

"I remember going to my first convention in Dawson. And I saw everyone in costume and I thought, 'That looks really fun,'" she said. "I became so obsessed with it that I decided I wanted to make costumes for a living."

Gauvin starts out the day looking decidedly normal before spending a few hours getting her Comiccon look together. (Marilla Steuter-Martin/CBC)

Her skill with a sewing machine comes in handy when she wants to recreate elaborate costumes.

She says conventions, including the massive one in San Diego, serve as a great motivator to roll up her sleeves and get going on a new project.

"I like working really hard on something, putting my heart and soul into it, and then wearing it at a convention and seeing people really like what you did," she said.

"It's fun to have people be like 'Wow, that looks so nice,' because you worked so hard on it."

Emilie Gauvin's home workshop is a place where she can roll up her sleeves and get creative. (Marilla Steuter-Martin/CBC)

Gauvin says cosplayers can get a bad reputation for being attention seeking or vain, but really most people just want to share their hard work and meet other fans.

"It's a really creative way of essentially incorporating other hobbies like video games, manga, anime, TV shows, and making something creative out of it," she said.

"Through cosplay [people find] a way to express their love for a certain character."

Gauvin dressed up as the character Star Guardian Lux, from the video game League of Legends,​ for Montreal Comiccon on Friday. (Marilla Steuter-Martin/CBC)

As is standard practice at conventions, Gauvin has a different character costume for each day of the three-day event.

Many of the outfits she wears have been with her for years and feel like like old friends.

"I feel bad when I make a costume and wear it only once," she said. "I want to try to make one and wear it as much as possible."

To get the most out of her outfit, Gauvin will be participating in a masquerade at the anime convention Otakuthon in August — the event looks like something between a costume contest and a pageant where participants perform skits or routines from dance, to fight choreography.

She described the event as both "terrifying" and "one of the highlights of the weekend."

Makeup also proves an important part of the equation when it comes to transforming into a larger-than-life character. (Marilla Steuter-Martin/CBC)

While it's fun to dress up and be someone else for the day, it can be more challenging than it looks.

One of Gauvin's absolute favourite costumes is a floor-length navy blue witch's gown that she keeps in a storage locker with the rest of her costume overflow.

She's "super proud" of the work that went into designing and crafting it, but it's not easy to wear.

"I think it looks stunning, but the whole thing is made from boiled wool which is really hot," she explained. "It's so uncomfortable, but it's actually one of my favourite costumes."

Gauvin has a storage space in the basement of her building where she keeps some of her larger costume pieces, including some handmade fake weapons. (Marilla Steuter-Martin/CBC)

For Gauvin, getting to be creative in her spare time and using her skills to create some incredible garments outweighs any temporary discomfort.

The praise her work garners at conventions and online doesn't hurt either.

She's active on social media and YouTube where other fans and cosplayers share their latest looks and projects in between convention meet-ups.

While it seems like a huge amount of effort to prepare a top notch look, Gauvin is the first to admit that the investment isn't possible for everyone.

"Some people don't have the time or the resources to spend hundreds of hours, [and] hundreds of dollars, on making something for one day," she said.

"Ultimately, if you're having fun, that's really what's important."


Montreal Comiccon runs from July 5 to 7 at the Palais de Congrès.

About the Author

Marilla Steuter-Martin has been a journalist with CBC Montreal since 2015.

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