In the Realms of the Unreal: Dressing up at Anime North

Established in 1997, Anime North is the largest fan-run anime convention held in Canada, with the number of attendees increasing every year. Anime fanatics from across North America gather in Toronto for three days to meet each other, meet their idols, buy collectables, and most importantly, dress up.

Though not everybody comes in costume, and it is certainly not a requirement, cosplayers get a lot of kudos and credit for their outfits, especially if they’re homemade.

Why do these costumes play such an important role in these anime conventions? We ventured into the unknown waters of the wonderfully nerdy fandom, and took some pictures along the way.
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“You Can’t Play Metal in a Pink Dress.” An Interview with Mares of Thrace

Mares of Thrace are a two-piece metal band hailing from Calgary, Alberta. No novices, band members Thérèse Lanz and Stef MacKichan have been playing extremely heavy music together for nearly ten years, finding their roots in riot grrrl punk. Besides being phenomenal players in their field, they are also feminist minded and fashion conscious women who quite literally know how to rock pink. Mares of Thrace and Jenna Wornette caught up for beers on a patio and vintage shopping in the Annex to chat about fashion, subculture, and sexism.

Who or what inspires your style?
Thérèse: I really like Victorian stuff and a lot of Japanese street fashion, even though it’s one of those things I admire in theory but would never ever wear in a million years. There is a pretty big gap between my fashion theoretically and my fashion in practice. There are things that make the aesthetic part of my brain hum, but I know that it’s always going to come down to jeans and a t-shirt, because I’m constantly moving heavy stuff, and being in filthy dirty places. I really like DIY fashion – it’s kind of my financial Achilles heel. If these things were on a rack in any other store at the mall I would never shell out this much money for them, but here it’s someone’s art! I have a tradition that every time I come to Toronto on tour I try and find a DIY garment and buy it as a souvenir.

Stef: Honestly, I never thought I would do an interview about fashion in a million years! What guides my fashion sense is cost and being a drummer. Everything needs to be comfortable, loose fitting and inexpensive.

Is there a difference between what you wear on stage and the rest of the time?
Thérèse: It depends on the occasion. I mean, at the inception of this music act, we sort of adopted the dress as reclaiming traditional femininity; in the name of strength and competence and being empowered. I’ve heard people say stuff like, “oh that band makes this band sound like they wear skirts,” when talking about a heavy band, implying that this then makes this band seem lame and weak. So we were like “fuck that we’re going to be heavy AND wear skirts!” So in a way we wanted to re-appropriate the dress and the frilly skirt as an iconic thing but unfortunately that doesn’t always work out in practice.

Stef: I tried to wear bows for awhile every time we played on stage. I got pink drums. Just as a good ol’ “up yours.”

Thérèse: I once heard someone say “she can’t play metal in a pink dress,” and as soon as I heard that, I knew that I was going to wear a pink dress as often as I could. On tours sometimes when you’re tired and feeling a little worn down it’s hard to want to spruce yourself up.
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Jill Wornette

I always wanted to be one of those girls who jumped out of giant cakes (think Debbie Reynolds in Singin’ in the Rain). But until I am living my dream of popping out of delicious desserts in beautiful dresses, I’ll settle for being a Media Studies/PR student and WORN’s newest publishing intern. I believe personal style is fashioned by surroundings, so I make an effort to surround myself with beautiful things—like fresh cut flowers and beautiful girls (helloooo Wornettes!). I draw most of my style inspiration from ’60s film starlets—full skirts, cinched waists, nautical stripes, all bangs and black cat-eyes are what my dreams are made of. I wish I could wake up and have Edith Head dress me every morning. Win me over with: pictures of your pets, ice cream, letting me interpret your dreams, and Scrabble.


The Coveteur
Glimpses into the closets of some pretty fashionable people. Not as scandalous as it sounds—you won’t find any skeletons here, just beautiful garments with stories behind them. I’m beginning to love seeing what people are not wearing as much as what they are wearing (and their pets too).

Speaking of closets and secrets, I am a little wedding obsessed (with no plans of walking down the aisle anytime soon). Weddinggawker is a gallery of photographs from wedding bloggers and photographers and a great place for nuptial notions. Whether you are about to get hitched or not, it is filled with lovely images and I’ve drawn inspiration from it for fashion, home decor, and food in my everyday life.

What Should I Eat For Breakfast Today?
Breakfast is my jam (ha!). I am a morning person and love to start my day by enjoying a well thought out and prepared breakfast. This collection of photographs often inspires my most important meal of the day, and the dishes are as good to look at as they probably were to eat.

Lula Scrapbook
My second favourite magazine (after WORN) is Lula. The images are so dreamy and whimsical, it’s like the candy for the eyes. Though it only comes out twice a year, the blog is updated much more frequently and is just as inspiring, tiding me over until the next issue.

Hannah and Landon
If the internet wasn’t so new, I would wonder what decade Hannah was from! Her blog is filled with inspiring dreamlike photographs of a wardrobe Marie Antoinette would envy, her husband Landon’s art, and even a tutorial on how to achieve her gorgeous rag-doll curls. She also has her own vintage inspired lingerie line called The Loved One that I would like to wear underneath my clothes every day.

Photography by Brittany Lucas