Ashley Graham - Resident Evil 4 Remake
Time to Make: 6 hours
Timeline of Construction: March - May 2023
There was pretty much no question once a remake of Resident Evil 4 was officially announced that I would Cosplay Ashley. Ashley from the original RE4 game is one of my all-time favourite costumes and I've had a blast portraying her over the years. I've met some really dear friends thanks to survival horror Cosplay so it has a special place in my heart. I was super excited to see how they would change and update her design for the new game and in the end; I was a bit... letdown by the update. I'm not a huge fan of the decision to turn her sweater into a blazer (especially not with the jacket now being a rust colour that blends a bit with the turtleneck) but that wasn't going to stop me from Cosplaying her. It did take away my inspiration to want to sew, though. In the end I decided to either thrift or buy parts of the costume.
Ashley's design is pretty much street clothes. There is nothing particularly unique or super costumey about her new design. I hunted on eBay for a bit for a secondhand blazer, but in the end, I started looking at Aliexpress for pre-made Ashley costumes. Once the RE4 remake was released, there was a flood of pre-made costume listings appearing weekly on Aliexpress. I began to look to cherry-pick through the listings for shops that were willing to sell the costume in parts. I found that I didn't really like any of the full costume listings. Despite her outfit being pretty straightforward, very few pre-made costumes were particularly accurate. Most versions had off-the-shelf bandanas and some didn't even include a turtleneck. The bottoms are pretty much always made as skirts, but in the new game, it's actually a skort and only looks like a skirt from the front. I liked the colour and fabric of the blazer I bought, although it was missing a grey/beige stitch detail that covers most of the seams on her jacket. Once I got the blazer, I spent a few hours using my machine and hand stitching in some grey topstitching to make it feel more accurate. The blazer did come with a pin attached as she's wearing a brooch, but the pin wasn't very accurate. Ashley's brooch in the game has a large focal flower and mini flowers underneath with hanging pearls on one side. I ended up buying a pin through Aliexpress that was very blingy. My father helped me cut off part of the pin and I found an old broken pearl bracelet with nice white pearls that I hooked onto my brooch. It's not super accurate, but looked nicer than the pin the jacket came with.
The scarf I bought was from the same costume set as the jacket. The maker actually did attempt to emulate the scarf design from the game as it appears they did match the flower design and printed it on fabric. That also means it's white on the back, which is a bit annoying, as printed fabrics are usually only printed on one side. It's also missing a shading detail as it's meant to have two colours of brown for the background (possibly square designs) and mine only has one. It's a bit unfortunate, but it's nice enough. Annoyingly, the fabric runs really easily and I accidentally put a couple of snags in it. The scarf is also a very weird shape. It has a loop to tie the end, but it's a bit oblong and overly long so I'm not sure the best way to wear it. Since it's only one-sided, it's a bit annoying to keep from turning over. Maybe I'll get some fabric paint and colour the back when I get a chance. I had cut and hand sew a triangular edge on part of the scarf. The edge from the factory only had a slight curve and it's meant to be more triangular. It only took a few minutes to quickly fix it by hand.
The skort turned out pretty well. The hardest thing about buying pre-made and mass produced costumes is hoping the sizing charts are accurate. I ended up getting a size M and it fits pretty well. Just happy one of the listings was offering a skort. They did also print the pattern onto the skirt so the pattern looks pretty accurate. I remember struggling for a while and buying a few different kinds of tartan style fabric that looked sort of like Ashley's green and dark green skirt design back when I Cosplayed the original version of Ashley. I ended up getting a knit fabric remnant on eBay that I used and loved. The material for the skort is again, one-sided and feels a bit thin. Not the nicest fabric, but at least the design looks accurate.
The turtleneck was the first thing I bought and was a bit annoying to pick out. I was impressed that if you look up sleeveless orange turtlenecks on eBay and Aliexpress, you can find quite a few options. I remember being pretty concerned about getting one when I first Cosplayed Ashley over a decade ago. Back then, my now late mother knit both the turtleneck and brown sweater for me. This time, that was not an option, so I turned to the internet. The first turtleneck I ordered had a nice pattern to it. The colour is a bit of a weird yellow-orange. It's not quite the orange colour I was looking for. I also failed to realize the turtleneck collar would be short. You can't turn it down. Once I realized that, I decided to order a second turtleneck since the first one only cost about $16. I didn't like the pattern as much on the 2nd turtleneck, but the collar was longer and looked nicer. Weirdly, they were both sold in a single size, so not much option for customization. At least they both fit ok (although a bit baggy). The 2nd turtleneck was also almost exactly the same colour as the first even though the listing showed it as a bright yellow. I knew from reviews that it would be a darker colour. Kind of wish I could have found one that was more orange, but it seems the mass produced shirts in orange or yellow mostly only come in this weird dull orange shade.
Eventually in the game, Ashley loses her jacket and scarf and underneath she wears an eagle necklace (seems like a fun nod to her codename in the game, which is "baby eagle"). I wanted to see if I could find a pre-made pendant that was close since the design is pretty basic. I ordered a couple of different eagle pendants. The first one was huge and heavy so didn't really work for me. The 2nd one is a better size, but isn't super accurate. The eagle for her necklace in the game is holding a loop or gem, but the best I could do was to get one holding a rose. It looks nice at least. I might buy a custom necklace down the line as some crafters are selling more accurate versions of her necklace, but for now my necklace works. I'm having trouble getting a short enough rope cord for it, so for now I have a black chain that looks nice enough from a distance.
The wig was a real challenge. Ashley's new hairstyle is still a bob, but it's very textured and choppy. I found a cheap bob on Aliexpress that I liked the colour and length of. I was a bit disappointed that when it arrived it was shedding a lot, was thin in the back, but had overly long hair and it had 4 noticeable platinum blonde streaks. It seems highlights are really popular in natural coloured wigs these days. I wasn't sure it was going to work so I decided to look for another wig. For the 2nd wig, I decided to buy one that was pre-styled for Ashley. I found a costume listing on Aliexpress that was selling the wig separately. It had some layering and looked like it would be quite full. When the wig showed up, it had no layering, was very long and was a very yellow-blonde colour versus a more sandy blonde from the promo pictures. I ended up opening a case on Aliexpress and arguing that the photos were misleading and Aliexpress actually sided with me. The seller gave me nearly a full refund. I'm on the hunt for a 3rd wig, but since I wanted to wear the costume to Anime North, a week before AN, my friend Pan came over and helped me trim the first wig I bought. She cut the back, around the front and at the bangs. I used a brown and yellow permanent market that I muted with some rubbing alcohol to try to blend in the bright platinum blonde streaks. It doesn't totally cover them, but they're not quite so bright so they don't look as much like skunk streaks with the rest of the wig. I do hope to get and style another wig to make it more accurate, but I'm pretty happy that, with Pan's help, we could salvage the first wig and actually make it look quite nice.
The boots and tights were the easiest parts. I tried using black tights I already had, but the skort is actually quite short and the control top on the pantyhose shows through under the skort so I had to buy new tights that are sheer-to-waist. The curse of sheer tights is that they're extremely easy to rip and tear. I immediately got a rip in the upper thigh part of my tights when I first put them on before wearing the costume to Anime North 2023. Thankfully it was covered, but I got another tear later in the day thanks to a buckle on my boots. Basically, I'll probably need a new pair of tights every time I wear Ashley. The boots were actually re-worn from my old Edonia Sherry costume from Resident Evil 6. The boots are about a decade old and the material and even the heels are starting to crumble due to age, but they look really nice and suit the character pretty well. Depending on how they hold up, I might buy new boots, but I'm hoping they last for a while.
I sure had a lot to say about a costume that was all pre-made costume and clothing pieces. I really did have an active role in putting it together. Between adding some details for accuracy as well and cherry-picking costume parts, it was quite a bit of work. I had a great time wearing the costume to Anime North 2023. RE4 Cosplay is pretty special to me. I honestly cannot wait to wear this costume more often over the next few years. Even though it's a totally new design and a new game, portraying Ashley again is like seeing an old friend and I hope through new RE Cosplay, that I can make some new friends in real life. I can't wait to find more Leons and Adas to get photos with!
Events/Conventions this costume was worn to
Anime North 2023 (Sunday)