Cosplay teams whose collective talents span a wide breadth of sewing and prop construction can have difficulty picking their next big project, as each creator wants to challenge themselves with each project. Loratail Cosplay, a husband and wife duo known as Xalara and Lelind Loratail on Jenova, make sure they are both invested in whatever cosplay they tackle, and their dual work creates stunning results. Their approach to choosing their next project ensures they gain valuable experience with different tools of their trade, and I was lucky to ask them about their experience with their FFXIV cosplays.
I first became familiar with Loratail Cosplay through their recreation of Scathach, the penultimate boss of the Dun Scaith raid. They are quick to point to Scathach’s spear as the most difficult piece of the costume. Loratail used foam and worbla for props in their earlier years of their cosplay work, but have since moved on to 3D printing, and molding and casting resin. The spear was their “first really large scale 3D print”; they also had to learn Fusion 360, a 3D design program, in order to bring the piece to reality. Modeling and printing the spear was only one piece of the challenge, however, as the prop required significant amounts of painting and sanding to achieve a smooth and shiny appearance.
Even more impressive than the final product, however, is Loratail’s commitment to adaptability in their work. Final Fantasy designs are often frustrating to translate into tactile reality, but with a few tweaks, they made the spear easier to construct and use while in cosplay. They say that the spear “remains one of our proudest works and it embodies our cosplay philosophy of allowing for slight alterations in design to make either wearing or construction a bit easier.” The sharp edges of Scathach’s spear and the detailed weathering of her crown are the extra details that elevate the final product, and only a very close comparison would reveal the minute differences between prop and in-game design, making the cosplay not only impressive but also manageable to transport.
Not everything went exactly according to plan for Scathach, however. The larger-than-life, gravity-defying pigtails, while visually dramatic, were “a disaster to wear.” They used expanding foam with wig wefts glued on top, but realized too late that they had used the wrong foam: “I went to a hardware store and asked for expanding foam. They pointed me to gap filler, which also expands but is super dense and is why the wig was so heavy.” The final products weighed about ten pounds, and still had to rest on their ears to remain in place despite the weight. Loratail admits that while the pigtails look amazing in photos, they were also “the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever done for cosplay to date.” Next time, they intend to make the pigtails hollow shells to reduce the weight, skipping the need for expanding foam altogether.
Thankfully, sewing the Evenstar outfit was a smoother process. According to Loratail, deciding what fabrics to use for a costume is always “a balance between getting the color, weight, and texture to look right even if the material isn’t strictly what it appears to be in game.” Bringing the carnival-esque design to life – while a dream project – was no easy feat. Sharp edges and clean lines are a necessity for constructing a deceivingly complicated costume like the Evenstar set, but Loratail did not shy away from the challenge. They turned to experience from a previous cosplay for inspiration: “I’d actually just finished a cosplay where I used a sheet of foam to make a coat flare out since the fabric was too heavy for interfacing but I didn’t want to risk any plastic supports showing through.”
Loratail built the skirt from foam and wrapped it in fabric, thus ensuring the shape of the skirt was maintained when worn. Though the idea was straightforward, the actual construction took them the majority of time spent working on the Evenstar outfit, but the finished cosplay was well worth the time and hard work. They also did not shy away from the most infamous piece of the Evenstar outfit: the tail! In fact, they’re rather proud of it (and how bouncy it is!).
When considering their favorite cosplay memories, Loratail says wearing the Evenstar outfit to FanFest holds a special place in their heart: “I had multiple people come up to me to tell me that even though I did a good job making it they absolutely hate that set! It was hilarious and exactly the reaction I’d hoped for.” Though they received many positive reactions to their Scathach cosplay, the lack of hearing and peripheral vision due to the heavy wig made it a significantly less comfortable experience. Loratail says their favorite reaction, however, might just be Soken’s at PAX when he saw their monk artifact gear: “He looked at my costume and said, ‘You even made the shoes.’ Senpai noticed me”!
Loratail Cosplay has also made many of the 3D models they built for weapons, accessories, and props available for free under creative commons. So if you have ever wanted to make a Scathach staff of your own, Loratail Cosplay has you covered. Their models are available at Thingiverse, and they are happy to share their work with other FFXIV players looking to make their own cosplays!
Loratail Cosplay has no plan on slowing down their own FFXIV cosplays. They’re already considering Alphinaud and a Lolita Namazu outfit for the next FanFest (someday!). While they normally prefer to construct gear sets, they’re drawn to the many minute details of Alphinaud’s outfit. And the ultimate goal? A “light up carbuncle on wheels!” We definitely can’t wait to see it.