Alyson Tabbitha snips thrift-store clothes and sews them into the perfect costume. She re-contours her face with eyeshadow and bronzer, pops in contacts and changes her hair. And, with all that, the creative artist truly transforms when she cosplays. Indeed, you won’t believe some of her stunning looks, inspired by male, female and fantastical characters.
Meanwhile, Alyson Tabbitha’s journey to becoming a cosplayer started long before she came into the world. She told The Insightful Panda in 2015 that her parents loved to dress up – her mother even worked as a character performer herself. So, when Tabbitha joined the family, it only made sense that she got handmade costumes to wear, too.
Not only did dress-up and costumes play a big part of Tabbitha’s upbringing, but her mom taught her the skills necessary to one day create her own looks. And they came in handy in 2014, when Tabbitha attended her first cosplaying event. Indeed, before then, she had little idea what it meant to take part in such a gathering.
For its part, cosplay combines the words “costume” and “play,” and that alone gives a hint as to what the hobby entails. Those who participate in this style of performance art choose a character from comic books, movies, TV, anime or video games, and put together a costume to embody their chosen role.
So, for her first foray into cosplay, Tabbitha decided to tackle a Lightning Farron ensemble, mirroring the character from Final Fantasy: Lightning Returns. And the intricate costume, for Megacon 2014, would likely trip up even an experienced cosplayer. But Tabbitha handily put together an eye-catching look, especially considering it was her first time trying.
For one thing, Tabbitha’s resulting look – and newfound hobby – thrilled her mom And that became even truer when Tabbitha roped her brother and sister into cosplay as well. Indeed, she told The Insightful Panda in 2015 that she thinks “it made [her] mom happy to know her adult kids not only are still best friends and learned many skills from her, but also participate in such a fun and innocent hobby together.”
But, of course, the experience also lit a spark in Tabbitha herself. She realized that she had the skills to create both a costume and a makeup look to pay homage to her favorite characters. And Tabbitha did it, although she “had no idea how wonderful this hobby was when [she] first jumped in.”
From there, Tabbitha – who sells jewelry, sculptures and artwork online – made cosplay the centerpiece of her life and creative endeavors. And she garnered lots of attention as she started uploading her looks to social media. Indeed, she has nearly one million followers on Instagram and her clips have accumulated millions of views on YouTube.
One of Tabbitha’s transformations to make a huge impression was her Wonder Woman look, inspired by Israeli model and actress Gal Gadot’s version of the character. For her, the project held a special place, too. In a YouTube video explaining the step-by-step process to making the costume, she explains, “I love Wonder Woman, so I’m so excited to make this tutorial.”
After applying a base level of foundation, Tabbitha’s transformation begins – and it instantly becomes clear how much effort she puts into her cosplay. She starts by using eyeshadow to re-contour her nose so that it appears to have a similar shape to Gadot’s. In the YouTube video, Tabbitha advises, “You might not need to do this depending on the natural shape of your nose.”
The same goes for the next steps – Tabbitha keeps an eye to Gadot’s facial structure as she contours her own cheekbones, temples and eyes. Then, the cosplayer pencils in her eyebrows to match the on-screen Wonder Woman’s. Tabbitha continues, “Her eyebrows are kind of close together in the middle but not too close, and they get thicker at the arch.”
Eye makeup comes next, with Tabbitha using both shadow and liner to create a subtle winged look. She then uses her eyeshadow for a completely different task. Here, she relies on the darker hues in the palette to fill in, reshape and lower her hairline to match Gadot’s widow’s peak.
With that, Tabbitha imparts viewers with a piece of valuable advice if they want to mimic hers or any other cosplay look. In the YouTube video, she says, “I always look carefully at reference photos of the characters I’m doing my makeup to look like.” She then completes her makeup with a layer of mascara on her eyelashes and eyebrows.
And with that, Tabbitha now just has to do her hair. She heats up a curling iron and styles small sections, clipping each coil into a bobby pin to hold its shape. When she completes the entire head, she takes them out, brushes them with her fingers, and hairsprays them into place.
Now Tabbitha has completed her look – and the resemblance to the movie version of Wonder Woman is uncanny. One YouTube user wrote, “Are you Gal Gadot for real? Maybe you are Gal Gadot’s double for the action scenes. Amazing makeup.” Another commented, “Oh my gosh!! You are Wonder Woman! You did such a fantastic job on everything!”
Another stunning transformation sees Tabbitha becoming Leeloo, a character from The Fifth Element, played by Milla Jovovich. In her tutorial, the cosplayer shares some pretty ingenious tips for making her face look just like the character’s. First, she says she uses foundation to even out her tone and mute her natural features.
Tabbitha then whips out a surprising tool to shape her eyebrows – a glue stick. She says the school supply can help cosplayers to keep their eyebrow hairs down and, once it’s dry, they can apply foundation on top. Tabbitha then goes on to lighten her glued-down brows with both liquid- and powder-based products.
After that, much of Tabbitha’s process becomes about contouring once again. She relies on eyeshadows to shape and highlight particular parts of her face, such as her brow bone. Indeed, Jovovich’s is prominent, so Tabbitha fashions it the same way. Then, she colors the sides of her nose so that the bridge appears wider.
Meanwhile, a transformation into Leeloo wouldn’t be complete without a visual plumping of the lips, Tabbitha says. She uses a lip stain to over-draw the edges of her own pout to make it seem fuller without looking unnatural. She then colors it all in with a lip liner pencil and later adds shine with a finishing layer of gloss.
At this point, Tabbitha says she’s ready to “take this look to the next level.” She proceeds to pop in a pair of green contacts to mask her brown eyes. Next, she colors over her glued-down brows with an orangey eyeshadow, a shade that matches the wig she specially makes to cosplay as Leeloo.
The basic wig came without a part, so Tabbitha had to create one herself. In the video, she cuts pieces of hair from the base and then squeezes hot glue onto the end of the strands. After that, she presses the tresses into the middle of the wig’s top and separates the strands of hair onto either side of the part. She then uses a flat tool to press down and create a defined division.
With a middle part created, Tabbitha then moves onto styling the wig to match Leeloo’s one-of-a-kind hairstyle. The cosplayer starts by dampening the synthetic strands with water. Next, she takes small sections, twists them and runs a flat iron over the spirals to seal them into place.
The wig then needs a trim – both its tresses and bangs reach too long to mimic Leeloo’s hairstyle. So, Tabbitha grabs a pair of scissors and chops away. She advises, “I start by cutting off a few inches then I work my way up. Be careful, because if you cut it too long you can always cut off more later. But if you cut it too short there’s not much you can do.”
With that, Tabbitha proceeds into the final step in her wig-transformation process. She grabs a bowl full of bright orange acrylic paint and brushes the shade on, careful to coat every strand. She suggests, “Use your brush to really work it into the synthetic fibers. A synthetic wig won’t absorb the color, so you’re mainly just focusing on coating the hair.”
Surprisingly, Tabbitha’s DIY doesn’t end there – she hand-makes her character’s wardrobe, too. In the video, she shows off the oversized white T-shirt that she picked up at a thrift store. She says she purchased it for its fabric, not for its shape – Leeloo wears a crop top, after all.
So, Tabbitha starts by slicing away the shirt’s sleeves, then cuts its side seams. She then slips into the opened-up garment and pins it along the sides of her body so that it will fit as tightly as Leeloo’s tee. Next, she marks where the sleeves should go, then cuts them from the fabric scraps she has.
With the sleeves pinned in place, Tabbitha just has to sew the new T-shirt together. Then, she moves onto Leeloo’s golden leggings, which she says can be homemade or purchased. Regardless, they’ll likely need a lined detail like Leeloo’s pants – Tabbitha sewed on a set of elastic bands to create the same effect.
Tabbitha’s next step has her making a belt out of craft foam. Then, she fashions the buckle out of popsicle sticks, which she then covers in posterboard, glues and paints gold. And, amazingly, the finished effect looks just like a metallic belt buckle. The cosplayer then attaches the accessory to her leggings with Velcro.
And with the belt made, Tabbitha can then put the finishing touches on her look. She slips into a pair of suspenders that she bought from another artisan, although she said she thought about making them herself. She also bought a frame for her homemade Multi Pass, an ID card that Leeloo had in the movie. And Tabbitha has Photoshopped herself onto a faux Multi Pass of her own.
Once again, the video of her transformation process – as well as the stunning finished product – garnered lots of praise for Tabbitha. One user wrote on YouTube, “You look just like her! [I] am going to cry. The Fifth Element is my favorite movie of all time! So beyond cool to me.”
Meanwhile, another person suggested that Tabbitha look into playing more characters played by Jovovich. They wrote, “You should cosplay as any version of her Alice character from the Resident Evil films.” But it appears as though Tabbitha isn’t wanting for inspiration for her cosplay at all.
In some cosplays, Tabbitha has created a character of her own. For instance, she wrote on Facebook in 2014 that she “got some elf ears for no reason, then made some dragon statues for [her] shop.” That gave her the inspiration to throw on some wigs, do her makeup, adhere the ears to hers and have a fantastical photo shoot.
Many other times, though, Tabbitha’s inspiration is patently clear – she looks just like the characters she decides to cosplay. Along with the aforementioned Wonder Woman and Leeloo, she has successfully transformed herself into Padmé Amidala Naberrie from Star Wars, Elsa from Frozen and the Marvel Universe’s Nebula.
And Tabbitha has no problem transforming into male characters, either. In fact, since she was 14, the cosplayer has remade and improved one her man-inspired costumes each year – that of the star of the Pirates of the Caribbean five-part film series, Captain Jack Sparrow.
Tabbitha explained why she recreated the Jack Sparrow costume so often. She told The Insightful Panda, “Well, Jack is just a fun character to be, he’s one of the few costumes that when I put it on, I instantly get into character, kids and adults alike love him. And after several years of dressing as him – and me being a huge fan since I was a young girl – he really has a special place in my heart.”
On top of that, Tabbitha often dons looks inspired by David Bowie, both in his music and on-screen career. For one, she recreated the iconic lightning bolt face paint that Bowie wore on the cover of his album, Aladdin Sane. Tabbitha also recreated his starring role in one of her favorite movies – Labyrinth.
Tabbitha’s cosplay resume also contains an Edward Scissorhands look that she made entirely from scratch. Indeed, she said on Instagram that she considers it to be “one of [her] favorite costumes [she’s] ever made.” Then came Legolas from the Lord of the Rings trilogy and even a stint as Lestat de Lioncourt from Interview With the Vampire.
Meanwhile, as Tabbitha’s work has been shared with her nearly one million Instagram followers, she has inspired others to delve into cosplay. One commenter wrote, “I am trying to recreate your costume. This whole idea [started] years ago when I first saw your picture and the idea was stuck in my head for all this time. So thank you very much for being you, being so inspirational and being so beautiful.”
For her part, Tabbitha explained to Insightful Panda what draws people to cosplay. She said, “There’s really no ‘required’ reason to cosplay other than simply wanting to… So long as someone wants to try cosplay, they should! They can find their own personal reasons to keep doing it along the way.”
In Tabbitha’s case, it’s all about embracing who she is while creating intricate looks inspired by someone else. She added, “Despite constantly dressing as people that aren’t me, I have never been more myself than I am now. I used to always want to seem cool, and reserve my goofiness. Now I embrace my derpyness and am not ashamed of playing dress up as an adult.”