Cosplaying: The Ins and Outs of Becoming Your Favorite Character

Cosplay can be one of the best ways for fans to feel connected to the characters they love so much. Not only does it bring those characters to life in a way, but it also allows other fans to enjoy a little bit of the characters as well. Barbara Rieck is a cosplayer from Germany, and she was kind enough to share her cosplay of Hermione Granger with MuggleNet, as well as answer some of our questions.

 

Barbara Rieck cosplays Hermione Granger.

 

Rieck started enjoying the Harry Potter books when she was a child, reading them as they were released. She got involved with cosplay soon after that but didn’t always dress up as Hermione. She explained how she came about cosplaying the beloved Potter character.

I always wanted to cosplay characters I felt close to, and since my grandma is a seamstress, the closest thing was to ask her for help. That way, I cosplayed a few other characters before I got to Hermione. When I was around twelve, I loved everything around Hermione but never cosplayed her, if you disregard my witch costume in kindergarten. In my teenage years, I was annoyed I was always compared to Emma Watson and Hermione, so I rebelled against it. Mostly because Hermione has this perfect image with always outstanding grades and no wrong decisions. I was constantly compared to and pressured into that. I couldn’t fit in anymore with my sexual orientation and my mental health issues. Only when I started to grow out my hair again, I collected the first pieces of Hermione’s uniform and did my first Hermione Shootings [sic] with my best friend dressed as Luna. These pictures can still be found on my Instagram page.

 

Barbara Rieck as Hermione Granger.

 

She says there is an importance to collecting items that are accurate to the movie versions and that it can be a tricky step to overcome, but it’s very much worth the effort, “even if you sometimes have to dig deep into your wallet.” However, when she’s completed an outfit, Rieck says there’s no better way to spend an afternoon than photographing the full ensemble. It’s all about the research and time dedicated to finding the right piece of clothing. Even if it’s not exact in every detail, Rieck says it’s good enough for her when it’s not obviously wrong.

I search for the right brands on fashion accounts dedicated to Emma Watson, but if I can’t find or afford a piece, I search for similar[-]looking clothes. But unlike other cosplay accounts, I never fixate on things, when I can’t get the exact clothes for one outfit. I admire it [on] other accounts, but all that counts for me is when it looks quite similar. I don’t need to buy the exact chocolate[-]brown trousers if I already own regular brown trousers. Maybe when my collection is growing, but for now, it suffices.

 

Barbara Rieck in Hermione's Yule Ball gown.

 

Rieck says that to become her favorite character, there is always some kind of connection between cosplayer and character.

I think I wouldn’t have cosplayed any character if I wouldn’t feel close to them in any way. But [with] Hermione, I think I have a special bond, because I was on [the] one hand told I look like her and am character[-]wise a lot like her, but on the other hand, I never rebelled actively against anything this much as against looking and being like her. I think you develop this kind of love-hate relationship with a character, when you get constantly compared to them. I always had to live up to her image in many ways, which is an enormous pressure.

 

Barbara Rieck as Hermione in her Hogwarts uniform.

 

Barbara Rieck, a proud member of Ravenclaw, says her favorite Harry Potter movie is a tie between Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows – Part 2. Honestly, we feel the struggle. More of her content can be seen on her YouTube channel.

Do you have any fun or favorite Harry Potter cosplays?

MuggleNet would like to extend a special thank you to Barbara Rieck for sharing her cosplay creation with us. If you have a creation you’d like to be featured, email all relevant information to submissions@staff.mugglenet.com.

Full Transcript with Barbara Rieck, Monday July 5, 2021

For clarification, what is your name and where are you from? (As much as you are comfortable providing?)

My name is Barbara Rieck, but you can also find me on social media as riecktheboss. I’ve chosen this nickname because I can be very bossy when I am feeling comfortable, so my family called me “boss” for fun. I am from a small, cozy village in Germany.

When did you start reading and watching Harry Potter?

I started reading and watching Harry Potter when I was very young. My aunt used to tell my mom I’d look like Hermione so they wanted me to watch the first Potter movie. But because I always loved to read and I regularly got piles of books from both of them I read the Philosophers Stone before I was allowed to watch it. After my aunt lent the first books to me I got a bundle of the first five Potter books for Christmas. Then, every new Potter release was an experience, where I regularly walked to the one mom-and-pop-store [sic] in the village to excitedly pick up my book, eager to finish it in one go. My parents even had to lock my book after bedtime so I wouldn’t read the whole night. The first movies I got to watch at my kindergarden [sic] best friend’s home, and when I was old enough to watch the fourth one, my parents even let me sit on the huge couch to see it all alone, with some snacks and Cola, which was a big deal because I secretly got to see it before my younger sister was allowed to!

How did you start doing cosplay?

I always wanted to cosplay characters I felt close to, and since my grandma is a seamstress, the closest thing was to ask her for help. That way, I cosplayed a few other characters before I got to Hermione. When I was around twelve, I loved everything around Hermione but never cosplayed her, if you disregard my witch costume in kindergarten. In my teenage years, I was annoyed I was always compared to Emma Watson and Hermione, so I rebelled against it. Mostly because Hermione has this perfect image with always outstanding grades and no wrong decisions. I was constantly compared to and pressured into that. I couldn’t fit in anymore with my sexual orientation and my mental health issues. Only when I started to grow out my hair again, I collected the first pieces of Hermione’s uniform and did my first Hermione Shootings [sic] with my best friend dressed as Luna. These pictures can still be found on my Instagram page. My passion for collecting screen accurate items started when I met Tom Felton at the Elbenwald Festival 2018 and he told me “You look just like Emma”. I got a tattoo from his autograph from that day to always remember. Of course, I was incredibly flabbergasted when that happened, so I couldn't stop myself from looking stupidly happy in our photo together. Fun Fact: I got my tattoo appointment for my birthday [on] the 22nd [of] September - which is also Tom's birthday! When corona started I saw a hashtag by chance on my timeline on Twitter called #coronastorytime for which people put on their Cosplay to distract children and to relieve some pressure from their parents, so I decided to read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in my Hermione Cosplay in german. After a few other Harry Potter[-]themed videos I filmed in the past, that was the main reason I dressed up in my cosplay for videos.

Is there a particular part of cosplay that you really enjoy?

[In] the beginning, I found it very difficult to search for screen[-]accurate items and didn’t quite understand how to do it properly. Once, I wanted to buy the wedding dress from Belle of Beauty and the Beast on e[B]ay for a lot of money, which never even fit me, so I was really sceptical about it afterwards. But with the help of some Instagram accounts and blogs dedicated to finding Emma’s or Hermione’s clothes (e.g., @ fashion_of_emmawatson, @ecdw_fashion, @sassyemmawatson), I discovered the fun behind hunting them down on second[-]hand apps, even if you sometimes have to dig deep into your wallet. But the part [of] cosplaying when you wear your long[-]lost precious treasures for a shooting [sic] is also one of my favourite moments. Mostly, I take selfies in my cosplays, but lately, I got my boyfriend to drive into the fields and take cosplay pictures of me, and for me, it is definitely one of the best ways to spend a day. Wearing it to events is also a lot of fun, sometimes I get mistaken for Emma herself. One time at Gamescom in Köln, a person followed me through two halls, because he thought I was her - he later told me. Even when I only wear my hair curly, funny things happen. In town, a kid saw me and told his mother that Hermione was walking behind them, and when they turned around, both smiled all over their faces. But it can be quite dangerous and annoying too. One night after we got out of the cinema several drunk men ordered my boyfriend to leave “the Emma Watson out of the car” with them as an exchange. Another time [at] Japan[-T]ag in Köln, many horny men wanted to stop me on my way and harassed me with disgusting remarks like what I would do with my wand in the bedroom or if I had [W]ingardium [L]eviosa-ed something in their pants. These situations can get quite scary and I am lucky I wasn’t alone there.

Have you cosplayed any other characters?

Yes, but only briefly. My first ever Cosplay was from an Anime called DoReMi I watched as a kid. My grandma sewed it when I was around the age of five or six for “Karneval” - that’s a german event where you dress up as something e.g. as a tiger or a clown and big wagons drive through the town and the people on it throw candy. Later I did a few Sasuke Uchiha Cosplays with her help too, but with Hermione I started much later. After I discovered that I own everything for a Rachel Amber [c]osplay, I did her also, though only as closetcosplay [sic]. For a small [H]alloween project, I also did a not really good cosplay of Harry and Draco too, just because I needed them for my script. I usually plan and perform alone in my videos when I get an idea so it felt natural doing. Hermione is currently the one I enjoy the most. Since I never really sewed my cosplays from scratch, only my grandma sewed them if needed, I was never tempted to go too complicated. The biggest thing for me was Hermione’s Yule Ball Dress, which I commissioned last year and only arrived recently.

Do you feel close to the character of Hermione? Do you think you are similar to her?

I think I wouldn’t have cosplayed any character if I wouldn’t feel close to them in any way. But [with] Hermione, I think I have a special bond, because I was on [the] one hand told I look like her and am character[-]wise a lot like her, but on the other hand, I never rebelled actively against anything this much as against looking and being like her. I think you develop this kind of love-hate relationship with a character, when you get constantly compared to them. I always had to live up to her image in many ways, which is an enormous pressure. I got told I would resemble her a lot visually and character[-]wise, but I myself see a lot of similarities as well as differences. I love to read - when I was younger more so than today - have an enormous urge for justice and many people currently in my life say I am a nerd in school (let me quote: “Streber”). But I can also be really unmotivated when I think something is a waste of time. I procrastinate things when I don’t do them immediately, but despite the time I went to University to study german Literature and Art and Art Education I am not a career woman. Instead, I blossom when I can be creative, have played extras in ([G]erman) films, gave my voice in games, [have] drawn for games and Fanart [sic] and have sold drawings. Some parts of me I can not even compare to her, because I am bisexual and depressive, for years I looked like a boy, at school I was bullied. While she found her best friends at school I hated almost every moment I had to be there. But it got better in university! - So don’t give up! Another thing about me I think is different from her is: I do almost everything out of spite.

What kind of research do you have to do to get your costumes right?

I search for the right brands on fashion accounts dedicated to Emma Watson, but if I can’t find or afford a piece, I search for similar[-]looking clothes. But unlike other cosplay accounts, I never fixate on things, when I can’t get the exact clothes for one outfit. I admire it [on] other accounts, but all that counts for me is when it looks quite similar. I don’t need to buy the exact chocolate[-]brown trousers if I already own regular brown trousers. Maybe when my collection is growing, but for now, it suffices. Mostly I pick one piece of the outfit which is the most prominent one and add the rest from my private wardrobe.

Do you show your cosplay to the public at all, or do you do it just for yourself?

I love to shoot some cosplay photos with my boyfriend or take selfies wearing them for Instagram and Twitter. When I have a good idea for a video I also show my cosplays on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/barbarariecktheboss). Many pieces I also incorporate into my everyday wardrobe and combine them with my normal clothes. It sometimes feels like you are a secret superhero when you wear a piece out in public. The most fun part is when I find bits and pieces from outfits Emma has worn, because these almost nobody will recognize, if I wouldn't post them online. It is like wearing secret treasures and no one in real life knowes [sic] why you look pretty. One of my favourite sweaters, for example, is the Truely [sic] Madly Deeply striped one she wore.

Do you have a favorite Harry Potter book or movie?

That’s maybe the most difficult question. I love the tension between Harry and Malfoy in the Prisoner of Azkaban and in the Halfbloodprince [sic] - so much that I drew a Drarry Fanart [sic], printed it on a shirt and wore it when I met Tom Felton. But Hermione's moment on the stairs in the Goblet of Fire is my all[-]time favourite. I always wanted to own this dress and have a similar moment. A childhood wish of mine. The Romione [k]iss in the Deathly Hallows is also my favourite happening. So it is a tie between these four - book and movie[-]wise. Of course, I need to say that I missed a lot of things that got left out of the movies - I mean, the one time where Ron originally defended Hermione in front of Snape in the books and mocked her in the movie hurts still - but all in all, I am really happy with how they turned out.

What is your Hogwarts House?

That’s a tough one too. I last took the test when I was around twelve, so I think that might be a little inaccurate since I am 25 now, but then it said I am Ravenclaw. But I take it a little like Tom Felton as I feel a bit stronger for Gryffindor so I like to call myself a Gryffinclaw/Ravendor - I don’t know which one is the right name for it.

 

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