The cosplayer known as "Silhouette" has a confession to make: two years ago, she had precisely zero percent interest in all things Marvel.
I remember being on tumblr when The Avengers first came out and thinking, "Wow, everyone is obsessed with this. Why?" I was never an action movie kind of person. Explosions bore me. The Avengers was just another superhero hype that I really didn't understand. The first time I watched the movie was late at night in a hotel in Berlin. I was studying abroad in Ireland--this was just a four-day visit--and honestly, the only two things that made me watch the whole thing through were Tony Stark and Loki.
In fact, it wasn't until some time later, when Marvel fans were exploding over Tom Hiddleston's in-character appearance as Loki at San Diego Comic Con 2013, that Silhouette's mind was abruptly changed.
I had liked Loki best out of all the Avengers characters, but that didn't mean much. It wasn't until I watched a video of Tom's performance that I started having an genuine interest in Marvel films (and Loki in particular). I was utterly blown away by his charisma on that stage. He wasn't Tom there; he was Loki, and he owned that audience completely.
After watching the first Thor (2011) film, as well, and finding herself further intrigued by the character of Loki, Silhouette suddenly decided that she would make his newest costume, with the intention of having it complete for the November 2013 premiere of Thor: The Dark World. She admits now that those two-odd months were not nearly enough time to get the costume where she wanted it to be, but she is proud of how much she did accomplish.
I was attempting something on a level I never had before, both in terms of materials and complexity. I was working with leather and armour for the first time, I had to draft my own patterns completely from scratch (each sleeve alone had almost 20 pieces!), and I even went so far as to make my own rubber stamp so that I could emboss the patterned sections of leather--and this was all in between schoolwork my senior year of college. I remember being outside my dorm at about 10 o'clock at night, spray painting Loki's armour and muttering, "I swear I'm not vandalising campus property" to myself whenever people walked past.
Silhouette's first set of armour was made from craft foam, due to both limited experience and time constraints, but she would later remake all of the pieces in worbla, a thermoplastic beloved by cosplayers.
The costume is made from genuine leather and green linen, and also features sections of gold chainmail mesh (which Silhouette says, laughing, that she found on eBay in the form of a "sexy party clubbing top"), detailed boot-covers, leather pants with almost three hundred craft foam scales, and over three thousand zipper stops in silver and gold, which form the distinctive trim around the coat and tunic.
The process, Silhouette adds, was an adventure. "I keep having people ask me how I made the costume," she says. "And it's hard to say one specific method, because my working process was a lot of making it up as I went and seeing what worked and what didn't, and trying again, and again. It was experimentation more than anything, because I'd never done this sort of thing before. The upside to that is that I've learned more working on Loki than on anything else, which has been fun, frustrating, and really incredible."
Silhouette debuted the full costume at Anime Boston 2014, where the positive response surprised her more than a little--and gave her a boost of confidence she had not expected.
I guess I didn't realise how much people love Loki. I knew that I loved him, that I had become emotionally invested in his character, but to see people's expressions of both awe and delight as I walked past--that was amazing. More and more I've started to embody the character at conventions, taking on Loki's voice and mannerisms, and it becomes a part of me on those days. Normally, I'm what I call a 'socially awkward butterfly', but as Loki, I have so much more confidence in myself. It's a sort of self-validation that's incredibly important for someone who tends to stay in the background.
And if you happen to see Silhouette at a convention, you are also more than likely to spot Allayed Cosplay, who plays Lady Thor alongside her in a costume also made by Silhouette.
Thor is one of my best friends, and keeps me in check with general outcries of "Bro, stop!" and "Loki, no!" (Or she just muzzles me). We made a fairly last-minute Lady Thor cosplay for her, and it's all the more fun to wander around as an Asgardian duo. The cape definitely draws attention.
In addition to her Dark World costume, Silhouette has slowly created a collection of props to go along with her cosplay, including The Tesseract, Loki's dagger, muzzle and shackles, and Gungnir (Odin's spear). "It's starting to become hard to decide what props to bring on a given convention day," she says. "The muzzle is the worst, because it's simultaneously very fun and very annoying. I love the reactions, but I hate not being able to talk to people very well, especially when they're genuinely curious about my cosplay and want to know more about it."
Of course, the more I cosplay Loki, the more invested I become in his story and character, and then I just need to cosplay him more! It's a downward spiral in the best way possible, which is why I ended up making not only the Dark World version, but also his prison outfit, which was, in its own way, even more challenging.
Like her main costume, Silhouette's prison Loki is made from leather, with vinyl portions and the "dreaded" zipper stop trim. The real challenge? The undertunic.
I spent months looking for the right fabric for the prison tunic, one that had the proper colour and texture. Eventually, I just said to myself "screw it", bought a knit that was the correct colour, and literally made the ribbed texture myself with a twin needle on my sewing machine. Probably one of the craziest lengths I've ever gone to for cosplay accuracy.
Even though she began her first Loki costume over a year and a half ago, Silhouette is still working on it. She says it is a constant work in progress, and she would not be happy unless she were able to upgrade portions of the costume, even little things, as she goes along.
I'll probably end up remaking the entire costume at some point. I'm a perfectionist. I can't get away from that. But I remind myself that I'm still ridiculously proud of what I've put together, and it's a costume that I've become entirely comfortable wearing, whether at a con or just through the streets of Boston with a couple of other friends in cosplay.
Silhouette is also a member of the Boston Super Heroes, a group of comic fans in the New England area dedicated to using their talents to have fun and give back to the community at the same time. Their most recent event was an Avengers Day at the Brookline Public Library, featuring around twenty costumed characters ready to interact with kids and their families.
"I love cons and I love photoshoots," Silhouette says. "But being able to do more than that? That's even better, especially with kids. There's something really magical about being able to make a kid's day like that."