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When Cosplay Goes From A Pastime To A Job

When Stacey Lee Feldman first saw Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in 1999, her life changed forever. And not in a "Star Wars will never be the same again" kind of way, either.

[Top image: Peter Verrant]

After seeing the film's two Jedi protagonists spend most of the film wearing luxurious brown robes, Feldman instantly wanted one of her own. But she couldn't find one. Anywhere. Not even on the internet.

"Everything I learned on Star Wars forums about the robes and costumes in general was that you couldn't just buy them, you had to make them yourself", she says. "I don't know why I decided this sounded like a great idea, I just went ahead and got started! I had to borrow a sewing machine and only knew 'sewing' from 7th grade home ec, but that didn't stop me. I didn't stop with the robe, I went ahead and put together the whole outfit. From there I learned about conventions, and it all snowballed from there."


[Image: Peter Verrant]

What began as a personal one-off soon became a gig making costumes for others on the side, and in 2011 would end up with Feldman going full-time with her own business, Strange Land Costuming, which specialises in creating cosplay outfits.


Her approach to design exemplifies the perfectionism so many serious costume builders obsess over. "The most complicated single piece I've ever done was probably a Korben Dallas jacket from The Fifth Element, which is seen in the movie in only one short scene (in the airport), and rarely from any very good angles."

"My customer had photos of the screen-used jacket, but they were film photos; this was 2003, the quality wasn't the best. I had to research what was going on with the front pockets and the back lacings to the best of my ability and reproduce it. It was a whopping 32 hours of labor, but I got it so exacting that the customer wore it to Dragon*Con for years, he was so proud of it."


Over the years, Stacey has won a number of prizes at conventions and masquerades for her costume work. The pics you're seeing here are just a small sample.

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