Double Flawless – five female video game characters go to fashion week

video game females

I’m a fashion illustrator who dabbles in trend theory, not a gamer. When Jaime Woo asked me to interpret five female video game characters through the lens of fashion for Gamercamp, I approached the project as a total outsider. Video game heroines, to a fresh eye, are very peculiar indeed. The way they behave and dress reflects the male majority of their beholders. So how would they appear if they were style icons, appealing to a female gaze?

When I did my research, I found that video games and fashion share much in common. They’re both idealized universes full of strange characters, hierarchical in nature. Both are based on different notions of status; in one world, power is conferred by violence and skill, in the other, by snobbery and creativity. Just because fashion is perceived as “female” does not make it any better or fairer than “male” video games. The two are in many ways, more similar than dissimilar. Not the least is the way they are both demonized as a corruptor of youth. More positively, they offer safe virtual spaces where people can dream and act out their fantasies.

For each character, I have chosen a “Style Icon” as inspiration for their look, and chosen a designer collection to dress them in. What follows is my reasoning behind each illustrated interpretation.

Chun-Li character + Chun-Li - Anne Hathaway + Chun-Li - Burberry Prorsum Spring 2013 =

Chun-Li, Street Fighter

Style Icon: Anne Hathaway

Collection: Burberry Prorsum Spring 2013

I’ve chosen Anne Hathaway as iconic influence for the Chinese character Chun-Li because she is consistently popular in Chinese media for her clothing and appearance. Her porcelain complexion, large eyes and sophisticated yet conservative red carpet style resonate with contemporary Chinese beauty standards. Modern Chinese fashion favours familiar luxury brands, however the overtly logo-ed branding of Louis Vuitton is now falling out of favour for the more subtle (and more difficult to procure in China) Burberry. The Chinese conception of glamour is hyper-feminine, wealth-driven and yet also understated, and you never see Chinese actresses wearing “oriental” fashions on the red carpet. Therefore I’ve taken a departure from Chun-Li’s traditional look to one that is more about saying “money” as demurely as possible, with a British accent. Conveniently, the Spring 2013 Burberry Prorsum collection featured a variety of booty shorts to accommodate Chun-Li’s high kicks.

Chun-Li web

Commander Shepard character + Commander Shepard - Daphne Guinness + Commander Shepard - Gareth Pugh Spring 2009 =

Commander Shepard, Mass Effect

Style Icon: Daphne Guinness

Collection: Gareth Pugh Spring 2009

Daphne Guinness is both an aristocratic authority figure and an artistic iconoclast; I think her style is suitable for Commander Shepard because she champions individuality over ‘robotic’ sameness (paralleling Shepard’s mission), while at the same time affecting costumes that are aggressive and strong. One of the designers Guinness favours is Gareth Pugh. I’ve chosen Pugh’s Spring 2009 collection because of a stunning series of armour-like outfits in black and white. I used some artistic license and rendered the design in red & white, to reflect the character’s original design. The earrings are loosely based on the Laruicci designs worn by Beyonce with another Gareth Pugh outfit in her “Run the World” video.

Commander Shepard web

Lara Croft character + 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals + Lara Croft - Saint Laurent Paris Spring 2013 =

Lara Croft, Tomb Raider

Style Icon: Sienna Miller

Collection: Saint Laurent Paris Spring 2013

Lara Croft’s antecedents are aristocratic, yet she chose the adventurous career of an archaeologist, so I’ve chosen Sienna Miller as her icon because that actress came from a very wealthy background but became known for sporting a very “bohemian” style that plays down her own privilege. Miller is also known for her braided hairdos which is likewise a Croft signature. For the collection, I’ve chosen one of the controversial Saint Laurent Paris collections by Hedi Slimane – his rich girls also reject their European blue blood by dressing inspired by “the streets” of California, and notoriously not even carrying handbags. They also wear broad-brimmed hats which seem to be occasionally sported by Croft.


Lara Croft web

Mileena Character + Mileena - Lindsay Lohan + Mileena - Balmain Spring 2011 =

Mileena, Mortal Kombat

Style Icon: Lindsay Lohan

Collection: Balmain Spring 2011

Mileena’s unhinged aspect immediately suggested Lindsay Lohan as her icon – Lohan’s got this scattershot fashion sense that occasionally veers towards the overly-revealing. She’s often also unashamedly dishevelled, with overprocessed, unkempt hair and a disregard for details. Balmain SS11 is the perfect collection for Mileena because it’s essentially made for a hot mess of a rich girl, outrageous tastelessness rendered uber-fashionable by the fact that it’s very, very expensive.

Mileena web

Princess Zelda character + FAMEFLYNET - The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Arrive At The Senate House in Cambridge City Centre + Princess Zelda - Alexander McQueen Fall 2008 =

Princess Zelda, The Legend of Zelda

Style Icon: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

Collection: Alexander McQueen Fall 2008

The Duchess of Cambridge is the ultimate fashion princess of our times, and is often seen wearing Alexander McQueen in his posthumous, polite incarnation as a national hero. However, for Princess Zelda, I’d like to dress her highness in the more subversive designs of the designer while he was still alive. McQueen has often been characterized as using violence against women as an emotional and creative instigator. McQueen’s clothing plays on ideas of female submission and corrupted power which I think makes it suitable for a permanently kidnapped heroine. The Fall 2008 collection, appropriately inspired by British colonialism, features some spectacular diadems which I understand are Zelda’s signature.

Princess Zelda web

14 thoughts on “Double Flawless – five female video game characters go to fashion week”

  1. These are brilliantly conceived, well-researched, and cleverly executed. I especially love what you did with Chun Li and Princess Zelda. What an amazing project! I looked at the GamerCamp page and it seems that this is only volume one of the series? I really hope to see more.

  2. Very nice. A little disappointed with Mileena but I love her and my expectaions may have been a little high. Still happy she was included.

  3. I “love” how you somehow managed to completely denaturalize these characters by your obvious lack of knowledge about them (or maybe you simply don’t care)

    Giving Chun-Li a rich chinese girl’s look is ridiculous considering she’s suposed to be a bloody interpol cop!

    Sheppard now looks like a Jetson-era space hooker/grandma instead of a person ready to sacrifice themselves in every sense of the word in order to save the whole galaxy.

    You somehow managed to sexualise Lara Croft even more than the most sexist outfits she had worn in early games. Good job. I’m sure she’s love running for her life in tombs without any pants on. This is especially shocking after the last game where her “assets” had been greatly reduced.

    I don’t even know WHAT to say about Mileena , but one has to wonder how you saw “clone of a demonic princess in another realm” and went with “an even more messed up version of Lohan”

    Zelda is just a sin. NOTHING in your design is even close to visual reference saying that this is supposed to be Zelda. Because you see , her signature is NOT diadems . It,s the freaking TRIFORCE. It’s literally EVERYWHERE in the design of her outfits , in every single game. The fact you decided not to use it not only shows your complete ignorance towards an iconic videogame character but also it makes that character look like a vulcan trying to be part of a fashion show!

  4. Thanks for your comment, I never claimed to be a gaming expert at all, I just interpreted the characters as I understood them through the lens of fashion, which by its nature is a warped way to look at anything. You’re welcome to share your opinion, your passionate defence of the authenticity and dignity of fictional characters sure is intense.

    Fair point about Chun-Li too, though since the trench is military in origin I stand by the Burberry =)

  5. Ms Meder
    Actually. I love your choice of the ’08 McQueen collection for Zelda!
    The detail on that dress is just amazing. The whole 08 collection was rich with texture and pops of deep color.
    I can totally see Zelda wearing the headpiece on look 42!!!

  6. I love this! Pretty interesting twists on some iconic characters, and this is coming from an avid gamer. Zelda in McQueen is genius.

  7. Shepard looks a lot like Zelenin’s design from Strange Journey (DS). That said I think a lot of the character designer Kaneko’s work seem to belong in the world of fashion…

  8. I love these. As a gamer and a part time lover of fashion, I really like your spin on these. And as you say, you are looking at them as if they were style icons. In there respective video game worlds, they may not have designer names (of what we see) so if they were transported to our world these seem like perfectly plausible fits for what they would wear when they are in between kicking ass 🙂

Comments are closed.