Last winter, I made a cosplay from the fantasy series The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. WoT cosplay is rather obscure, as there is little but descriptions in the books and some fan art to go on, but perhaps that will change if the planned series on Amazon Prime turns out well – with the casting of Rosamund Pike as Moraine, I’m cautiously hopeful. Either way, I wanted to make this before it hit the screen and the costume designer perhaps come up with something entirely different. This is how I see the Aiel Wise Ones.
The Aiel have a fascinating culture, and as they are one of few peoples in that world that look like your typical Scandinavian (no matter your ethnicity, you should be able to find interesting characters to cosplay in WoT, it’s beautifully diverse), it felt suitable. Of course, the Aiel are hardy, tough and in amazing physical shape for the most part, which I’m obviously not, not to mention tanned, which I haven’t been for many a year. I’m not exactly tall either, but then, Scandinavians as a group are rather tall compared to people from many other ethnical groups, so perhaps I’m short only by comparison. Still, cosplay is cosplay, and you can get away with nearly everything 😀
I more specifically cosplayed an Aiel Wise One, highly respected female leaders of their people. The Wise Ones (like Aiel women in general) wear white lace-up blouses, bulky wool skirts, shawls and folded kerchiefs holding back their hair, all in shades of brown and grey. With this they wear numerous necklaces and bracelets in ivory, gold and silver – they are a semi-nomadic people, so wearing one’s wealth on one’s person makes sense.
I knew my brown wool folk costume skirt would work perfectly for this. It is a bit bulky, the colour is perfect, and unlike most fan art that insist on putting the skirts on the hips (where current fashion have wanted it the last couple of decades), my skirt sits firmly at the natural waist. I had a loosely woven blanket that would do well enough for a shawl, the headkerchief could be made from any piece of scrap fabric, so the only things I needed to make or buy were a blouse and the jewellery.
I had had some off-white raw silk in my stash for several years, and though the blouse material (called algode in the books) is most likely cotton, this had a texture I liked and I had enough of it for both this and a future cosplay that I’ve put on hold. I cut it out using the traditional method, rectangles for the torso, sleeves and collar, and squares for underarm gussets. The seams were felled, and the edges hemmed neatly, by hand.
I made a simple white on white embroidery round the collar, lacing and sleeves. There is no mention of such in the books, but it’s an unobtrusive detail that didn’t feel wrong for the culture, and the clothing of the Aiel is so drab I needed something to make it more fun.
The lacing in front extends to the waist, as implied in the books. I made it spiral lacing, as that is less fantasy cliche, and keeps closed better than cross lacing even when not under tension. Naturally, the eyelets are hand stitched.
The necklaces and bracelets were a mix of jewellery making stuff I had at home and charity shop purchases. Next time I wear this I’ll have even more necklaces – there’s no such thing as too many necklaces for an Aiel Wise One.
If I were to change anything about this, it would be the sleeves. I thought that the open sleeves would be comfortable in the desert climate the Aiel come from, but it turns out they don’t work well combined with the shawl, but creep up the arms continuously. Perhaps I’ll take the sleeves in, and let them be tight enough for the bracelets to fit comfortably on top of them…
Did you read the Wheel of Time books? Did you like them? Made any costumes from them? I would love to make a cosplay of an Aes Sedai of the Brown Ajah (because of course I would be Brown!), but I must push all cosplaying to the back burner for a while, as I have other things that I need to prioritise right now.