RMIT School of Fashion and Textiles will host renowned Japanese designer Goldy Takahiro Sakai when he brings a taste of Japanese pop culture to Melbourne with a lecture and workshop on making cosplay.
Goldy, of the World Cosplay Summit, is a celebrated mecha (robot anime) cosplayer.
Inspired by mecha characters from Japanese pop-culture such as Gundam and Evangelion, Goldy has been attracting fans around the world, including superstar cosplayers.
On Monday 22 August he will make his only Melbourne appearance at RMIT’s School of Fashion and Textiles in Brunswick, sharing his knowledge and skills in recreating the weapons and armour of manga and anime characters from light, spongy, and durable materials such as polyurethane foam.
Through his lecture and workshop, participants will be able to see how cosplay has developed from a minor subculture into a new tool of cross-cultural exchange worldwide and gain insight into Japan’s historically nurtured craftsmanship.
While at RMIT Brunswick, Goldy will be meeting with Fashion and Textiles staff as well as industry representatives.
Professor Robyn Healy, Head of RMIT’s School of Fashion and Textiles, said RMIT’s close connections with industry and cultural partners enabled and encouraged visits by leading practitioners in design and technology.
"RMIT is recognised for creating new ventures and experiences for our students," Healy said.
"We are very excited by the impact of Goldy’s creations in unleashing highly imaginative, fantastical works onto the future creators and entrepreneurs of the fashion industry."
The cosplay (or costume play) phenomenon has steadily gathered steam from Japanese pop culture.
RMIT tutor Clem Bastow, who is teaching a short course in making cosplay costumes at the Brunswick campus from 27 August, said what's so appealing about cosplay is that it combines dressing up, solving the mystery of how to fabricate and make things, as well as performing and playing in character.
"The beauty of cosplay is that it can be whatever you want it to be: you can go all out and spend thousands of dollars, welding and coding your own wearable tech, or at the other end of the spectrum, you can construct costumes out of second hand clothes and make props from everyday items," she said.
"The cosplay short course is perfect for people who'd love to try cosplay but for whatever reason haven't taken the plunge, or for people who've cosplayed a few times but who want to try some different techniques."
RMIT alumnus and cosplayer William Boyle agrees – and has even turned his passion into a business.
Boyle, who studied the Diploma of Visual Arts with a focus on soft sculpture, started the fashion label Fantom Wear with design partner Aris Cologon, specialising in gear for cosplay, festivals and performance.
"We love to translate the outfits we see on comic book and video game characters into real life costumes, and we’re also working on a range of everyday garments with strong pop culture influences, creating a unique style within this niche area of fashion design," Boyle said.
RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies said that Goldy’s visit is presented by the Consulate-General of Japan in Melbourne under the "Japan Brand Program," where selected experts travel overseas to introduce Japanese culture from a variety of fields and promote intercultural understanding.
"As well as the enormously popular anime exhibition Kingdom of Characters with the Japan Foundation in 2011, RMIT Gallery has featured more than 20 exhibitions over the past 15 years with prominent Japanese artists including designer Akira Isogawa, robotics expert Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, architect Professor Terunobu Fujimori, and Issey Miyake Creative Director Dai Fujiwara who all visited RMIT and shared their expertise with students," Davies said.
"We are delighted to be supporting Goldy’s Melbourne visit and bringing such exciting cultural exchange to the Brunswick campus."
Story: Evelyn Tsitas