Another photo from my shoot with Trevor Toma, of my new cosplay that I’m incredibly excited and proud to share - fem Kylo Ren!
Soft parts are by me and Seraphim City Couture, gloves by John Fuqua, everything else made and/or fabricated by me.
This will be a bit long, but I want to talk a little bit about why I wanted to cosplay this character, and what it means to me.
I was actually quite nervous to tackle this cosplay - not only is it incredibly detailed and tailored, it’s the first character I’ve cosplayed that was brand new AND very popular, but I had to do it. Once the bug had bitten me, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t get the vision of a female Kylo out of my head, with long black hair holding her helmet and lightsaber, the same tortured look in her eye.
Since I was little, the original Star Wars trilogy have been my all-time favorite films. While I loved the epic lightsaber battles, the rad costuming, and the general atmosphere of “space fantasy” - what appealed to me most was the characters, and the emotional impact their stories had on me. Darth Vader was always my favorite, but Luke was a close second. To this day, the story of Vader’s redemption through the love of his son(and how that compassion for his father is what makes Luke truly a hero)literally moves me to tears.
Obviously I was beyond excited to see the Force Awakens - and I was not disappointed. I cried at LEAST once every single time I saw the film(four times in the theatre) - the movie had the same excitement and emotional impact I felt watching the original trilogy. But once again, what appealed to me were the characters.
I absolutely loved Rey, and seeing her in the role of “the hero” was incredibly moving - as a female fanatic of this franchise, it meant SO MUCH. She is absolutely the most important character of this new franchise(ladies, it’s our turn!).
HOWEVER, while I loved the good guys, I can’t lie: I am a sucker for villains - especially unique ones.
I left the theatre completely captivated with Kylo Ren’s character. Never in a Star Wars film had I seen a villain so unhinged, not even with Anakin in the prequels(in my opinion). His wardrobe was so artfully crafted by the costumers - it’s easy to make an all-black outfit just look like a blob, but they chose so many unique textures and layers! The result was perfect.
But more so than his outfit, I was completely hyped by the characterization. Instead of the usual “bad guy”, who is just stoic and “badass”(which Kylo totally was), we saw him show uncertainty in his purpose. We saw him throw tantrums, and destroy things in his anger! We also saw him tear up and show great anguish in his scene with Han. Adam Driver did such an amazing job, both with the mask on and off(it really takes a lot of skill for an actor to show strong characterization while wearing a helmet for most of the movie). I could go on and on.
It is very rare for a male character, especially a villain, to show a broad range of emotions beyond rage. Men are human beings and have emotions, and it doesn’t make them any “less of a man”. I was really excited to see that in this character.
HOWEVER(once again), I couldn’t help but think about the character if everything was the same, the only difference being that Kylo was a woman. I could see her wearing the mask for the same reason he did in the movie - wanting to intimidate, not wanting to be judged for their youth and/or facial features. Instead wanting to invoke the same fear and respect as their grandfather, Darth Vader.
I remembered when the first teaser/trailer was released for Force Awakens, they showed(what we now know to be) Kylo Ren walking through the snow and activating that completely awesome lightsaber - I remembered hoping so hard that that villain would end up being a woman.
So, while I’m thankful for the characterization we were given with Kylo Ren - I knew I had to tackle this character and cosplay as a woman. What would that have looked like? How would her emotional turmoil differ from the male counterpart? How would it be the same?
I hope you enjoy my take on this complex character! Thank you for reading, and may the Force be with you.
My cosplay fb page
I had a thought that came across my mind saying “What if Ben Solo was a woman” and I look this up here and this is the closest my mind was thinking. Just wow!
"A Pretty Face Can Sometimes Hide An Evil Mind"- Thomas Amo
I will be cosplaying him next month, as long as nothing goes wrong with my costume, and I am so looking forward to it. While I am not going to be able to get the wig in time for the costume's debut, I admit...I do not intend to really be very feminine because I am only feminine to an extent myself. Unfortunately I don't have the talent to make any of the things you did...I was able to mod my helmet and weather my lightsaber, but I find it easier to do "crafty" things than stuff like sewing. The robe itself I've had to commission. I have hopes it will arrive to me in a few weeks.
I have yet to identify with or connect with Rey as I did with Kylo. She's not a bad character--I'm just not really able to connect. I'm not sure if it's that I don't have enough light in me or what it is.
I absolutely loved Rey, and I'm so happy that she's the star of this new trilogy. It's about time that the ladies get the spotlight in the Star Wars films! While I can relate to Rey and she definitely has the makings of a new hero, I am always drawn to villains myself. And everything about Kylo drew me in, for sure! I'm really excited to see where his story arc goes(as well as everyone else's)! I think he represents the darker sides of most people's personality, and what many of us wish we had the power to do sometimes. I find that costuming helps me explore that darkness, to get in touch with the side of myself(or something very far from myself) that I would never do in real life.
The power of fiction is truly amazing!
I always thought that Leia, unlike the stereotypical "damsel in distress," took care of herself and created her own opportunities. That's one reason I liked her. I still like her--and heck, I like her even a little more now because we got to see her age as a REAL WOMAN. Not some fake Hollywood plastic surgery rail thin woman. But a REAL WOMAN, like someone I could actually imagine meeting, and actually imagine being a kickass general instead of weak, vain, and self-absorbed. (All the people trashing Carrie Fisher...I would like to smack them upside the head with my lightsaber, which is a longsword-style, longsword-sized, dueling-grade Flamberge, so I can promise you it would HURT. )
I see something that can be...way too close to who I am, in Kylo. There's a light part of me and I am capable of caring a lot, but on the other hand, I have a part of me that can be cold and uncompromising, and when I do lose my temper, it's epic. :/ Only a few wrong turns, I could be there. I saw a nightmare I had more than once, actually enacted in that character. One that I was always horrified my brain could have even cooked up. Yes, it shows good that I WAS horrified by that nightmare...but still. For me...I almost feel more honest in a villain/antihero costume than I would in a hero costume. I do think I ultimately have good in me and that I have redemption, don't get me wrong. I almost feel though, like I need to be honest about the dark part of myself. If I can name it and face it fearlessly, then I am less likely (I hope) to be overthrown by it.
I really hope to see redemption for Kylo--and better, for him to survive it, unlike Vader, and have to make his choice knowing he will face consequences and mistrust for years. That right there is real strength. I have hope based on what we saw with Starkiller Base...Poe implied that once the light of that star died, then there was no more hope to destroy the base. The base went down AFTER the point of no return, and what came forth from it but a living star? People say Kylo is past the point of no return. The visible light faded when he made his decision.
But I think the light is not all gone. It's simply out of sight, and he may be able to withstand a return.