Versailles: The J-Rockoco Period in the History of Cosplay

For the connoisseurs of the Visual-Kei scene, Versailles has become an icon. They are well known for their symphonic power metal sound, as well as their rococo-esque costumes that catch the eye immediately with their beauty and complexity. The late 18th century fashion influence over this band gave them a certain amount of uniqueness even in their genre, making them extremely popular, their fan-base increasing in numbers each day.

Astarohime as Jasmine You (Versailles)
Photo by JustMoolti
Astarohime as Jasmine You (Versailles)
Photo by Nana Hikari
ShizukaRen as Kamijo (Versailles)
Photo by Ayashige

As their fame grows, so does the number of people that choose to cosplay as them. All around the world, fans take pride in the fact that they resemble their idols in one way or another and look like one of them.

There are many reasons to mimic them: their music, their look, their personality. I asked ShizukaRen from Romania to tell me why she chose to cosplay as Kamijo, and her reply was: ‘Because Kamijo is my idol. A man I respect and admire, but at the same time compete with. In my eyes he is perfect and I want to be just like that, to do my best in everything and be successful. But I don’t plan on stopping here, I’ll work hard and one day I’ll be even better than him. Something I always tell my friends is that Kamijo is a peacock, while I’m still a baby peacock. But one day I’ll be all grown up, and on that day his spotlight will be mine’

While cosplayer stories of how they stumbled upon Versailles vary from serious to funny, the reasons for choosing them are definite and strong. Compared to manga and anime cosplays, cosplaying as real people is a bit harder and you need to find the exact pattern and texture of the fabric you’re trying to copy, as Russian cosplayer Astarohime said.

ShizukaRen as Kamijo (Versailles)
Photo by Ayashige
Mana Hime as Kamijo (Versailles)
Photo by Alisa Eliseeva
Mana Hime as Hizaki (Versailles)
Photo by Alisa Eliseeva

The process of making a J-Rock cosplay is almost identical to making a normal one. The greatest difference between the two is that it’s sometimes harder to find the necessary fabrics for them; for some cosplayers, it can take weeks and sometimes months to find the materials they need, while others are lucky and find them pretty quickly. The actual process of sewing the costumes or making the accessories depends on their individual skills. Having many years of experience isn’t relevant, as long as they’re able to create at least part of the costume or accessories themselves. Depending on the level of difficulty, the time they need to make the costumes varies from a week up to three weeks, as multi-layered ruffles, beads embroidery and lacing with crystals is often involved. Most of these have to be applied manually, a process which could take up to a few months. If the final product turns out well, there is no greater satisfaction for the cosplayer.

From what Christoph told me, only months after Versailles was formed, they had a dedicated group of cosplayers making appearances on stage, in parades and performances with tremendous sets.

It seems interesting that a lot of Russian cosplayers choose Versailles to be on their resume. Kuroru and her friend General were asked to describe the Russian cosplay scene.

Kuroru as Hizaki (Versailles)
Photo by Zakharova
Christoph D.L. as Yuki (Versailles)
Photo by Alisa Shamshutdinova
Lara Tang as Hizaki (Versailles)
Photo by Laurel Joly

“I’m from Russia, Moscow and I can say that J-Rock music and cosplay are very popular among Russian fans. We even have two annual festivals for J-Rock lovers only: ‘J-Rock Convent’ is held in Moscow in the summer and the other one in St.Petersburg is named ‘J-Rock Day in spring’. There you can see representatives not only from the capital, but from different cities and regions in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. We also have special awards for J-Rock at different anime festivals, so people can have a chance to perform on stage not only in manga or game cosplay: There are many J-Rock cosplayers all over the country. Versailles is the most popular among them. So are Malice Mizer, Dir En Grey, X-Japan, D and Kaya.”

Russia is not the only country where you can find very good Versailles cosplays. Lara Tang, whose Hizaki cosplay is among the best I’ve seen, is part of the American J-Rock and cosplay scene. The reason she decided on Hizaki was: “Serenade had just been released. While watching that video, I thought “Oh my god! That girl is hot!” Right after, during the panel, I learned about the whole cross-dressing thing in Visual Kei and was like “Well, correction… that guy is epic!” After that day I became a huge Versailles fan, and I still am. Hizaki is my favorite member, and a very big inspiration to me, therefore I decided to cosplay as him.”

The most popular Versailles cosplays are after Kamijo, Hizaki and the regretted member Jasmine You, who seem to be easier to cosplay due to their more feminine look, but also seem to be favorites when it comes to costumes.

Article by Mara Buda


  1. Shiki Akira says:

    I have been interested in Japanese bands for over 15 years now. I listened to Versailles before Kamijo went his own way. Now I am looking into cosplaying him next year at Otakon. I am looking for ways to either make his costume or find a seller who makes excellent quality items for something below the price of about 600 or 650.00. I am going to working on a budget with this so it lasts me years to come. My hair style was actually inspired by him and I am intent on cosplaying him!

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