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Meet Kirilee Cosplay, one of the 2024 Cosplay Central Crown Championships finalists

After triumphing at PAX Aus, the winner of the Aussie qualifier is heading to Chicago to take on the world in the Cosplay Central Crown Championships

Image credit: Terry Austin

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Every year, cosplayers from around the world show off their creations at conventions - and the best of the best chase glory at the Cosplay Central Crown Championships. From Australia to South Africa, and across Europe, master-level cosplayers head to their local conventions to compete for the chance to represent their regions and a round-trip ticket to the yearly finals - which take place at Chicago's C2E2 in an show packed with so much incredible cosplay across the last USA Semi-Final and National Final before the global competitors battle it out on stage for the title of Crown Champion and bespoke awards, crafted by Hoku Props for ReedPop.

As excitement builds for the 2024 Cosplay Central Crown Championships finals (which you can watch here for free!), we're talking to the amazing finalists who are getting ready to board a plane and meet their competitors for one last, epic competition.

Today we're talking to Kirilee Cosplay, who took the stage at PAX Aus by storm in October 2023 to represent the ANZ community, with an impressive cosplay of illustrator Sunset Dragon’s design of Toph Beifong from Avatar, the Last Airbender.

Image credit: Terry Austin

Popverse: Congratulations and welcome to the competition! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself as a cosplayer?
Kirilee Cosplay: G’day! I’m Kirilee and I have been cosplaying for a decade now, but I have been sewing since I was 3 years old. I got into cosplay when I found out that pop culture conventions were in my home city and my favourite actress was coming to town. I also saw they had a “cosplay contest”. I knew how to sew, so I just put something together. Upon meeting my favourite actress she commented on how awesome my cosplay was… and from there I decided this was something I was going to do. As a cosplayer, I am definitely a character driven cosplayer who also needs to be entertained and excited for the design.

Do you compete regularly? What was it like at your qualifier?
I would consider myself to be a competitive cosplayer in the sense that I really enjoy cosplay competitions. It is because of cosplay competitions that I have travelled across Australia and to different parts of the world which I am forever grateful for. The qualifier in Australia was really good and there was a very positive vibe backstage. I felt truly honoured to have been selected as the winner of the Australian round against so many amazing Aussie cosplayers, people whom I respect.

What inspired you to make your costume for Crown?
Toph Beifong is my favourite character from the Avatar franchise, she is just so unapologetically herself. And as soon as I saw the design by the incredible artist Sunset Dragon, I knew I wanted to create her. The design had sewing, beading, armour, 3D modelling and props to name a few, and I knew it would be a good challenge for me. She also has very different silhouette to the cosplays I am generally drawn to which I found super interesting!

What was your process to bring Toph to life?
A WHOLE lot of planning. I broke every piece of the cosplay down into sections and figured out the layers, where they overlapped, where different anchor points needed to be etc. Then I bought fabric whilst I was last in New York and Los Angeles as there was a better selection than what is available to me locally. Toph was made over a period of about 5 months, essentially working on her every day and only stopping to go to my part time job, sleeping and eating. She was a true labour of love.

Did you learn anything while making this costume?
3D modelling and printing is the big one! My brain doesn’t normally work like that so it was a fair bit of learning a whole new set of skills. I also brushed up on my foam, worbla, airbrushing and painting work since it had been a while, and I rediscovered the stress that is ombre dying. But all in all, I learnt that I actually enjoy facing challenges and then overcoming them.

What is your favorite part of the costume? And Why?
The pants. I know it is a weird thing to say, but the pants. They were the most challenging part of the entire cosplay. They have a weird shape that defies gravity, they are also insanely full - they took 10 different mock ups to get right. Each pant leg has a 3 meter circumference at the bottom - I have two ballgowns on my legs. The pants are also ombre dyed, has cut outs, pleats, horsehair braid, bias binding, airbrushing and foam clay rocks on the bottom.

Image credit: Redscarf

Are there any other details or features you would like to highlight?
People seem to like the rock prop! It is a fun addition to the cosplay and I thought it was a good way to bring the earth bending into the cosplay, as it is also in the reference image by Sunset Dragon.

What are you most looking forward to about the final in Chicago?
100% meeting all the other competitors! In previous international competitions I’ve been involved with, it has always been the highlight to have the opportunity to network, discuss cosplay, swap ideas and talk about techniques and tools with other fellow master level cosplayers whom I normally would never have the chance to talk to.

Any advice for anyone thinking about entering a competition like this?
Chose a character that has a design which has some really interesting things about it. Also, go into the competition competing only with yourself - do better than you’ve ever done before. Do not compare yourself to the others that are entering- there are judges for that, that is not your job. Focus on yourself, do the best you can, and have a good time. Remember, it is cosPLAY.

You can follow Kirilee Cosplay on Facebook and Instagram.

The Cosplay Central Crown Championship finals will be one of many C2E2 2024 panels Popverse will be livestreaming this year.

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