Time and time again I would see such wonderful pieces of art that doubled as dresses, kimonos and other clothing that combined geek elements with fashion. Being a male, I admittedly said “That is pretty cool.” and moved on with my life, only to be shown even more of these creations with every other passing week. It was then that I decided, no more. I would investigate this awesome.
It was then that I discovered Darling Army. Browsing through her catalog of available designs had been a breath taking experience. Every single one looks incredibly professional while still maintaining it’s geek influences. Many times from other artists you’ll see a normal dress with a single logo slapped on and then up charge. Darling Army however puts so much time and effort into her craft and at the price she sells her products at is more than reasonable, especially because she is a one woman operation!
I immediately contacted her for an interview. Without further ado, here is my interview: Darling Army.
The Geek Lyfe: Although I have been a huge fan for quite some time, there may be a few Geek Lyfers who have not seen your work before, would you be alright introducing yourself?
Darling Army: Hello! My name is Amanda and I’m the creator of the Darling Army =3 I specialize in making easy cosplay alternatives for the cute enthusiast. As the first cosplay pinafore designer, I started with making cosplay items that could easily be removed during down-time at conventions (like eating, resting, and bathroom breaks). I’ve since expanded to include everyday wear with skirts and capelets. My most recent (and favorite) venture has been making character-themed kimono dresses ^_^
TGL: How long have you been working on Darling Army and what led you down this path?
DA: I’ve actually only been making the Darling Army my full-time priority for the past two years. The business was actually born in 2012 when I was working towards my teaching credentials. I decided to cram the two years into one, so I was student teaching full-time during the day and going to classes at night and on weekends XD Since I couldn’t hold a normal job schedule, I started transforming my original femme cosplay designs into pinafore and apron designs to sell on Etsy. After I completed my credential, I started making the Darling Army a full-time job which led me here =D
TGL: What has been your favorite dress/apron/kimono you’ve made and why?
DA:That’s such a hard question since I’ve made over 700 unique designs over the years! How about I pick one from each catergory? My favorite pinafore is the David Tennant design made with real blue suiting fabric. The Doctor is such a fun character to role play and the flouncy skirt is perfect for running! My favorite capelet is my Aang (Avatar: The Last Airbender) design. Putting the arrow on the hood can make an airbender cosplay look purposefully cute rather than I’m-lazy-and-didn’t-want-to-wear-a-proper-bald-cap. A kimono dress is the most difficult to pick just because I love so many of them. While I wear my Goku and TARDIS kimono dresses the most, I love the finished design of the Alucard (Hellsing) Kimono Dress.
TGL: What has been your most frustrating dress/apron/kimono and why?
DA: I’ve had plenty of frustrating commission that required loads of feltwork. I think the most difficult item I have in the store is the Sesshoumaru (Inuyasha) Kimono Dress. On top of taking several hours to contruct, it costs a ton to make XD I usually always save Sesshoumaru orders for last because I dread making them.
TGL: When you are not creating amazing products, what do you two do in your spare time?
DA: There’s actually only one of me XD I’m the only worker at the Darling Army, so I don’t typically get that much free-time. Luckily i get to marathon anime and sci-fi shows while I sew, so that frees up quite a bit of time. I’m actually an avid (outdoor) rock climber and try to make time for it at least twice a week; I would go more if I could. I love to hike, but unfortunately find it hard to dedicate eight hours to a good one each week XD I read like a fiend! I usually dedicate at least two hours each night to my books.
TGL: What anime, manga, comic book or video game would you say has made the biggest impact on your life and why?
DA: I’m going to say Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z each had distinct impacts on my life. Sailor Moon was my first anime in elementary school and introduced me to the joy of animation that wasn’t Disney. Because I watched Sailor Moon, I was open to watching Dragon Ball Z which pretty much exploded my world. I met my best friend through Dragon Ball Z and we bonded very quickly over it. Collectively we own every DBZ VHS tape included all of the episodes, specials, collections, and movies. It was our first fandom that had us cosplaying (outside of conventions and Halloween) at the tender age of eleven. We were those weird kids that ran around the neighborhood dressed as the Great Saiyaman and Great Saiyawoman! My wonderful mom made us the costumes and my dad made us the helmets; we were seriously awesome. Since our reputations were ruined forever from DBZ, we stayed in the geekdom shadows and flourished into the wonder fanatic girls we are today ^_^ While she doesn’t help me with my business, I bounce ideas off of her from time to time =3
TGL: Cthulhu rises from the depths of the sea, hoping to fill the world with madness and woe. If you could take on the powers of one characters you have made a kimono/apron/dress based off of their world, which one would you choose?
DA: Goku! DUH! I’m still convinced that nobody could beat Goku.
TGL: Do you have any projects in the near future we should look forward to?
DA: Honestly my new designs are influenced by what I’m watching at the time. I’m currently watching some older, nostalgic anime (in the middle of HunterXHunter), so expect more anime-themed kimono dresses and pinafores. I also happen to know that my brother is giving me the new Pokemon remake for Christmas, so I’m sure I’ll be flooding the store with Pokemon designs very soon XD
Amanda from Darling Army was incredibly kind which makes me love her even more and cause me to forever be a huge fan of hers! Thank you so much, Amanda!
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