Cosplay Gen: You specialize in geisha costumes and traditional cosplay; how long did you research geisha and traditional make-up and fashion in order to reach this level?
Monique: Two years and ongoing. It’s a learning process and I can safely say that, considering the amount of information and the depth of this particular culture, I am still a beginner. I don’t believe I have the right to say that I am any more than that – I believe that I’m always learning new things and trying to get better as much as I can.
Years of Cosplay: 2 years
Pasig City, Philippines
Monique Dimanlig Cosplay
Cosplay Gen: How long does it usually take to make a costume and what do you use as a reference when making them?
Monique: I usually look at photographs of real geiko and maiko found on deviantart and flickr. There are multitudes of them and I’m able to study carefully how they look like and do what I can (with my limited resources) to emulate them as best as I can. I also look at tutorials and other explanatory images about the different parts of their wardrobe and accessories. It takes me a couple of weeks to a month to put together a new ensemble.
Cosplay Gen: Why did you choose to depict Fujitsubo in particular?
Monique: I think it’s because she was the one who Genji really loved, and their relations ended sadly. She had feelings for him and he returned them, but their match was impossible, and when it ended, Genji sought out someone who reminded him of her. It was a melancholic approach that I didn’t really try before and I wanted to see if I could do it.
Cosplay Gen: From what point of view did the Heian period and Tale of Genji inspired your work?
Monique: I learned from a documentary that geiko makeup and style were derived from the Heian period, when people would wear that white makeup in the presence of the Emperor. I decided that I wanted to delve more into a “traditional Japanese” type of look. I chose Tale of Genji because it was the quintessential Japanese novel to read, and it was set in that period. I’ve read it before as a requirement in one of my Literature courses. So I tried that approach. It was actually difficult for me because I had a limited number of kimonos to choose from, and the style during the period was marked with many kimono layers. I decided to compensate by taking the colors (on several images, I saw Fujitsubo depicted in white, red, black and green), which I fortunately had in my collection. It wouldn’t give me a completely royal appearance, so even though it wasn’t the norm during that era, I placed flowers in my hair and added long flutters in the style I used in my geiko costumes. I was initially worried about it, so I was very delighted that it was nevertheless quite well-received.
Main & profile info picture by China Mungcal
1, 2, 10, 11. Meng Hua Shen
3, 4, 5. Robin Lavapiez
6. Kira Hokuten
7. Jon Tapalla
8, 9, 12. Raisa de Pano