Despite her slight 5’1” frame, Italian cosplayer Sweet Angel is a force to be reckoned with. Since starting cosplay in 2008, she has racked up features both in print and online and organizes multiple cosplay events in Italy. Despite her initial lack of experience with sewing, Sweet Angel produces highly accurate and well-made costumes that highlight her fondness for tough females touting large weapons. When she’s not working on new projects with her boyfriend (sorry guys), she studies Biotechnology and adds to her growing collection of nail polish. In this edition of Cosplay Corner, JapanCinema asks this lovely combination of beauty and brains about cosplay in Italy, how supportive her boyfriend is of her hobby, and what she looks for when choosing new costumes.
Hi Sweet Angel! Can you tell everyone a little about yourself?
Sweet Angel: My name is Gloria, but I’m known on web as Sweet Angel. I’m 21 years old, I’m Italian and I’m a third year student of Biotechnology at the University of Padova. I hope I will graduate between July-September of 2012 and then specialize in medical biotech. Furthermore, as any other girl, I LOVE shopping! I’m also interested in nail art (I have around 40 nail polishes) and I experiment with new decorations.
What sparked your interest in cosplay?
Sweet Angel: When I was a teenager it happened that sometimes I found images of people who were wearing the costumes of my favorite characters. I admired them but to me it was just a dream to do the same. By chance, in 2008 I found out that in my city there was a cosplay contest, so I went to see it. After 1-2 months I prepared my first cosplay, Tifa Lockhart from Final Fantasy VII.
What is the cosplay community like in Italy? Is cosplay generally well-received or do people think it is a little strange?
Sweet Angel: We have many different fairs in Italy, beginning with small conventions with few participants to the very big one like Lucca Comics and Games that involves the whole city. Another very important fair, which I didn’t take part in, is Romics (in Rome). In this occasion, the Italian representatives for the WCS (World Cosplay Summit) are selected. Together with some good friends of mine, I also organize three cosplay contests in my area: Cosplay in TV, Montegames and Naoniscon. I invest a lot of time organizing them but I get a lot of satisfaction when I receive congrats from people.
The number of spectators is always growing because the “cosplay phenomenon” is increasing, and sometimes it seems a trend! Obviously there are always people thinking that you are weird or exaulted, but there are also people who shyly ask you for pictures.
Tell us a bit about the process you go through when choosing and making a new costume. What is it about a character or costume that inspires you to recreate it?
Sweet Angel: First of all, I must like them aesthetically and the character must be pretty similar to me. If they aren’t, I don’t even start to make it, even if I like the costume very much! Second, I must like their temper – they must have a strong and decisive personality and even a giant weapon! [laughs] I don’t even consider cosplaying defenseless princesses, crybabies and so on because I don’t really like them.
Sometimes my boyfriend asks me to make a cosplay of a character he likes, and after following the anime series or playing the videogame I find that I like the character too, the cosplay will be done (like my Kirin Armor and Kaguya). As soon as I choose the cosplay, I spend months searching images of the character from every possible angle and even images of other cosplayers’ photos in order to understand how to improve my cosplay starting from theirs. Then I start researching for the perfect fabric and wig. I love to make my costumes perfect, so I spend a lot of time researching materials.
Several of your costumes are very sexy. How does your boyfriend feel about you posting these pictures on the internet? How do you feel about sexy cosplay?
Sweet Angel: Usually it’s my boyfriend who asks me to do those cosplays – he’s the first one to approve them! He comes with me to photoshoots and he suggests more “feminine” poses for me to do. For example, the Kirin Armor was his idea, and at the beginning I wasn’t too happy because it was very revealing. But in the end it was one of the costumes that gave me the most satisfaction. The sexy genre that I choose is never vulgar and the characters I choose never use their body to gain something in exchange or stuff like that (as Fujiko from Lupin, for example). They are innocent girls with a sexy body, but they are not provocative at all with their behavior (Yoko is 14! She wears a bikini but she’s so shy when it’s time to kiss Kamina!). There is a big difference between being sexy and being someone who just uses their body as an object. You can be sexy even with very covering and loose dresses, and vice versa, you can look like an easy girl even without particularly sexy costumes.
Do you make your own costumes? How long does it typically take you to complete a new costume?
Sweet Angel: I try to do my costumes by myself, but it’s not always 100% possible. At the beginning I really couldn’t sew. Now I’m beginning to understand how it works but unfortunately I don’t always have the time and equipment to make everything I want to do.
I commissioned some of my cosplays (but never bought them on Ebay or already made; they’re not very detailed and the balance between quality and price isn’t right). The only costumes I like from an online shop are the ones kindly offered by my sponsor! Talking about the cosplays I personally make, it takes one to three months for making them; it depends on the difficulty and the perfection I want to reach. Obviously, there are also costumes made in less than a week.
What costume are you most proud of? Which costume has attracted the most attention?
Sweet Angel: Both Kirin Armon and Alleyne are my favorite! I’m very satisfied with myself, because I could realize all the little particulars that other cosplayers forgot on their costumes before I made mine. But in my heart, Yoko will always be my favorite. It’s a very simple cosplay but I just feel like her, and I wish I could make all her different dress versions!
What are some challenges you face when translating a 2D character design into a physical costume?
Sweet Angel: Characters in anime, manga and videogames are really not proportioned realistically – they are all thin girls with huge boobs, little mouths that become enormous when they open it, and so on. So the costumes challenge the laws of physics. You need to use little tricks and compromises. If you’re good at it, nobody will notice that.
In general, how important is body type in cosplay? How similar do you think you should look to a character before making the costume?
Sweet Angel: I really care about being as similar as possible to the characters I choose to cosplay (physical appearance is, for me, one of the most important standards when I choose a costume). My dream-cosplay is Rikku from Final Fantasy X-2 but I really can’t see myself fitting in her physical resemblance… And I won’t do her cosplay until I feel I’m perfect for her. I want to reach the body perfection for the characters I choose. If I don’t feel comfortable in a cosplay or I don’t feel I’m pretty with it, I really don’t want any picture or I just don’t wear it! That doesn’t mean that everybody MUST be like their characters! I just expect a lot from myself, not from other people! Several weeks before a fair I am very careful about what I eat and I do a lot of physical exercise; it makes me feel more secure!
You and your boyfriend like to work on costumes together – have you ever cosplayed with him?
Sweet Angel: Yes, we have already done some couple cosplays like Yoko and Kamina (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann) and even characters from the same series in order to bring them together at fairs (Kirin and Fatalis Armor, Kaguya and Reiji, Sumeragi and Patrick for example). It’s a way to stay together and next to each other in fairs. Right now, we are organizing some new costumes to bring to conventions or photoshoots.
Is there a particular aspect of cosplay – sewing, prop work, wig styling, make-up – that you struggle with? What is the part you love most?
Sweet Angel: I try to learn to do everything in my own, even if it takes a lot of time. Regarding sewing, I never took classes and no one ever thought to teach me how it works, so my dresses are made as I like and without respecting any kind of rules. Furthermore, I have a very, VERY old sewing machine that just doesn’t work. I spend more time trying to repair all the mistakes that it create with my poor fabric!
About accessories: my boyfriend always helps me to do them. I design them, I decide which materials to use and how to make them and he works at the practical part. Very often we have to do them many times from the beginning until I’m satisfied! I usually choose characters with very crazy hair, and even if I’m not that good at styling wigs, I do my best. I use several makeup tutorials, but in the end I love to use my imagination with makeup! I recently bought several new things for makeup and I can’t wait to try them for the next fair! I’m known for cursing while I make my costumes, but in the end, when you’re surrounded by fans and photographers who take pictures of you and tell you how good your cosplay is, I’m very happy.
Want to keep tabs on her cosplay? Visit her site below: