[cosplay] Halloween costume and prop

Hope everyone had a happy Halloween! I actually had a different idea for a Halloween costume this that was lolita/kawaii fashion related, but couldn’t find the right fabric anywhere, not even on aliexpress. I bought a similar concept of fabric at Joann’s because it was on sale during my staycation, but I’m still not feeling it so who knows if it will ever be made. I instead made my backup costume, one I’ve been wanting to do for years, and that is the Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo Davinci!

Mona Lisa from wikipedia

Now this is not an original idea by any means, lots of people dress up as famous paintings or interpretations of and I always get a kick out of those pics as a fine art lover and Animal Crossing completionist lol. The truth is, I was most excited to make was the frame prop to really sell the idea I was a painting, since I had large frames lying around, but none were large enough to frame my body proportionately, and if they were, they were also fragile or uncomfortable to hold.

To start the costume because I didn’t own any clothes similar to a Renaissance costume anymore, I referenced one of the alternate paintings that might have been painted by Davinci’s apprentices that was most similar to Mona Lisa, as the painting’s colors had grown dull over the years so it was hard to see the details. The alternate painting actually has her in white/red/blue clothing but I was not going to dye multiple colors of fabric darker so I just made the dress out of bunch of dark grey and light grey fabric that was intended for another cosplay, trimmed with black trim. I altered an existing pajama top pattern and added puff and fitted sleeves to complete the dress, which actually only reached my knees. I assumed she was wearing a long skirt as Renaissance women would, so I just wore a floor length black skirt underneath. I used a curly wig that from a previous costume and also curled my hair and let it stick out underneath since the wig was a bit shorter than her hair. Then I hemmed the edges of some tulle from a witch costume to make her veil, pinned it to the wig, and costume was done!

The frame was made out of packing boxes cut up and glued and stapled together and then paper mached with torn pieces of packing paper and painted brown and gold. I love the texture paper mache, easy to do, basically free. At this point the frame prop could have been complete, but I decided it was kinda silly to not make the background of the painting and attach it to the frame and really improve the similarity. So I glued a few large sheets of packing paper that came with my packages, leaving the crumpled texture for interest, and then quickly painted a very loose version of the background with some really old acrylic paint.

Now this is where the trouble started. The cardboard frame was sturdy as one flat piece, but to add the background paper behind me I had to add cardboard supports on the top and sides, and that added weight was too heavy for the frame, no matter how much cardboard I stapled as support. After a point, I couldn’t add anymore. I should have made this from wood from the start, but one, I didn’t have enough wood on hand that was big enough and two, I wanted to use recycled materials and be eco-conscious and not buy new stuff. Also three, I didn’t think I was going to paint the background. The contraption stayed together for a few photos after I stapled some cord on the bottom part to hang over my shoulders to help distribute the weight, but the weak points are weak, so I am probably not able to take the frame plus background anywhere, not that I was going to leave my house for Halloween.

The actual day of Halloween I wore My Melody kigurumi to pass out candy and Pokemon cards hahah.

Overall, I’m super happy with the similarity; obviously I am not Italian, so I made an attempt to give myself Mona Lisa’s signature facial features with makeup and I think the end result is not bad. She likely has eyebrows and thicker eyelashes in reality, but the painting’s brows were painted over, so I shaved my eyebrows a little bit thinner and lightened them in Photoshop to match. Her outfit does have a few more details like lace on the chemise neckline and sleeves, but that would have only been possible to do if I had made a separate chemise and overgown, instead of sewing it all as once piece.

In this first photo I am facing the wrong direction because the light is coming from my left and I didn’t want the frame’s shadow in my face. You can see a little gap on the sides where I didn’t glue the background paper, that’s because I needed the gap to get into the frame box without tearing the paper with my elbows. But just pretend I’m facing the right direction, okay??

myself as Mona Lisa painting, holding a handmade frame plus background
[costume, 2023]

closeup of myself as Mona Lisa against a very roughly painted background
[costume, 2023]
In the selfie I am facing the right direction, because the selfie is mirrored lol.

Anyway, if I can, I would love to do portrait of Vincent Van Gogh next, that way I can also cosplay from Doctor Who and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure as a triple threat costume! Technically Mona Lisa shows up in a bunch of different media, Jojo included, but no one would remember that. Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed making this costume!

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