In part 1, I looked at how certain fictional characters have been portrayed wearing latex outfits in official adaptations or promotions, and how that has inspired cosplayers to run with the theme and wear their own latex outfits when cosplaying those characters. In part 2, we will look at latex cosplay as artistic interpretation!
More often than not, characters are never officially portrayed wearing latex per se, instead they could be wearing any non-descript figure-hugging material. It could be anything from lycra to latex, spandex to vinyl, or even some fictitious material so long as it is skin tight, potentially reflective, and looks fabulous framing an heroic stance!
If we’re absolutely honest, if your job title is Crime Fighter instead of latex you would probably wear one of those other, more practical and breathable materials. But cosplayers never let that these boring practical considerations get in the way of a cool and sexy rubber outfit! Latex may not be the best choice for fighting off super villains, but it certainly is more figure-hugging, more fantastical, more futuristic, more eye-catching. In short, perfect for bringing larger-than-life fictional characters to reality.
This is how it’s done:
This stunning cosplay is a result of a collaboration between Blackwater Cosplay and photographer Paul Hillier, costume by Kink Engineering. More on Paul Hillier’s blog.
EDI: The above cosplay is of the character EDI from the game Mass Effect. EDI is an artificial intelligence inhabiting a humanoid robot body. As you’d expect, the effect is something living yet cold, metallic yet alien. This is no bulky, armoured robot, but sleek and feminine. I haven’t seen a better interpretation of this than with latex, which can achieve the metallic sheen and sci-fi look while keeping something quite organic and human about itself.
Cosplayer Crystal Graziano. The sheer effort required of EDI cosplayers can only be admired.
Miranda Lawson: Mass Effect is ripe pickings for latex cosplay. There’s no denying Miranda Lawson’s outfit has a sheen to it, besides fitting like a glove.
Left to right: The cosplayer Berceck who makes her own costumes; Fiona Gamble (girlfriend of Bioware producer Mike Gamble); cosplayer AlienOrihara. The latter two are designs by Andromeda Latex, who are quite a force in latex cosplay design, and in fact they make costumes for most of the characters featured in this article.
Superman/Supergirl: Superman’s outfit is so tight in the comics you can see the exact muscle definition bulging through like he’s some kind of anatomical drawing (of a super strong alien humanoid, I mean). When you need an outfit this tight, there’s only one material to opt for. It’s no wonder latex Superman and Supergirl outfits are some of the most popular latex cosplay costumes.
Top: unknown cosplayers wearing Lady Lucie custom outfits. Bottom: model for Poison Candy Latex (now closed).
Ms Marvel & Mary Marvel: Over to Marvel now, for their take on the superheroine. The character designs and costumes of Ms. Marvel and Mary Marvel are nearly identical so I’ll group them together. As you can see, there is quite a strong similarity to latex in some of the artwork for Ms. Marvel. When a character’s costume is coloured black in the comics its reflective properites are only heightened. And considering this is another extremely tight outfit, Ms. Marvel and Mary Marvel cosplayers are being pretty faithful to the source in choosing latex for their costume.
Left to right: Cosplay and glamour model Marie-Claude Bourbonnais as Ms. Marvel; cosplayer Captain Irachka as Ms. Marvel; cosplayer Riddle as Mary Marvel
Harley Quinn: Harley Quinn cosplay has boomed since a modern interpretation of her featured in the recent Suicide Squad movie. But it’s the classic bodyhugging jester’s outfit from the comics that is a better choice for latex loving Harley cosplayers.
Left to right: Berceck in another home-made costume; alternative model and cosplayer Evilyn13; unknown model for Dyonya photoworks
But of course every costume can be interpreted in latex, and Margot Robbie’s Harley is no exception:
Venom: From the Spider-Man comics, Venom is an alien life form with a black oil slick-like consistency that joins with human hosts to transform into a hulking, black costumed monster covered in white spider motifs. Creative cosplayers combine latex catsuits with liquid latex to recreate the effect of the skin tight costume having a life of its own, extending gooey tendrils as it subsumes its host.
Left & centre: Costume by Adala Clothing who make lots of latex cosplay outfits; right: catsuit with face painting
The best of the rest from American comics: Sue Storm, Captain America & Spider-Girl, Rogue, and Lady Deadpool
Lady Deadpool by cosplayer Fenix Targaryen, other cosplayers unknown
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Over to Japan now. In the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, the characters wear a high-tech suit called a plugsuit, which is made from an unknown form fitting material that moulds to the wearer’s exact shape. If that is not the perfect description of a custom made latex catsuit, often described as feeling like a second-skin, then I don’t know what is. And indeed, latex plugsuits are quite a staple cosplay outfit.
Top left and center: Idol Ushijima Iiniku; top right: Socksy Cosplay. Bottom: Ardent Absol as Rei, Sydabee Cosplay as Mari, and Nerdy Neko Cosplay as Asuka
Totally Spies: This actually looks a good deal like latex to me. I didn’t know about Totally Spies so I did some research, and it appears the spies spend about half of their time tied up. This is what makes me think they could actually be wearing latex catsuits after all, because squeaking, brightly-coloured, reflective catsuits are about as stealthy as a full suit of chainmail, hence an excellent way of ensuring you get yourself caught in every episode.
Celty Sturluson a.k.a. The Black Rider: We’ll end on another anime character, The Headless Rider (among her other names), from the show Durarara. According to the Durarara wiki, her clothing is “made from a shadow-like substance that materialises around her at will”. I don’t think it has the texture of latex, nor is it as tight and reflective. But looking at the photos of the anonymous cosplayer that follow you will quickly forget all about that and agree with me on one thing: artistic interpretation is rather grand.