Cosplay Feature: Pam Isley/Poison Ivy

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There are some fantastic femme fatales in the Batman universe and Poison Ivy has always been a favorite of mine. Hands down. Selena Kyle, who I’ve already tried on for size, is fun and frisky. But Pamela Lillian Isley is a creature all her own. A botanist turned eco-terrorist, Poison Ivy is a character you love to hate, or vise versa. No matter how bad she is, I always find myself rooting (pun intended) for her maniacal and misguided schemes.

8-1Created back in the 60s, Poison Ivy has seen many different costume iterations over the years. I’ve always loved Ivy from the Batman animated series, but the costume was a bit too simple for my tastes. Uma Thurman’s take on Pam Isley in Batman & Robin was a bit more attractive, especially the long and glamorous cape. Ultimately though I drew most from Ivy’s various comic appearances, ending up with the traditional leaf covered leotard and leggings. Can’t go too wrong with that. Still, the end result was more my interpretation of her various outfits than an exact replica of one in particular. While many think of Ivy as a sexpot who manipulates people to her advantage, I always liken her to a classic (and classy) vixen – sexy, but not overtly so. Mysterious and slightly wicked, but only because she believes so strongly in her cause.

I ruled out the green skin immediately. I am a realist when it comes to cosplay, and body paint rarely looks good unless sprayed on by a professional. Starting the costume was easy enough. I ordered a brilliant red wig with big curls from eBay and picked up some green leggings at Target. The bodysuit came from Kohls, and I picked up the red and green leaves at JoAnns. I hot glued the leaves to the bodysuit, which took at least five or six hours and cost me my fingertips. The result was fantastic however, until I tried to get the thing on. Although I made the suitBatman4f while on a dressform, the hot glue made the entire piece into a cast, so it was impossible to pull the thing over my wide hips or bust. There was absolutely no give. This meant that I had to remove all the leaves from the back, tearing the off in order to give the garment back its stretch. This left the back totally destroyed, and provided me the incentive I needed to make the cape I always wanted.

The cape was easy after finding some nice light green fabric to compliment the darker colors on the bodysuit. I accented the top of the leotard with red leaves, and did the same on the bottom of the cape with some intricate green and red lace. The cape ended up being my favorite part of the outfit, even if I didn’t use it in many of my photos.

I polished off the look with a pair of sequined ruby boots that I already owned, never throwing them away because I knew they would come in handy some day. I added ornamental flowers and ribbons to the sides of the boots and put a matching bloom in my hair. With that, everything came together.

I debuted the costume at FallCon 2008 and it went over well, but I was still pretty unhappy with the fact that the back of the costume was ruined. If I didn’t pose just right you could see where the fabric was shredded. Additionally, the thing didn’t fit very well and ended covering up my curves rather than accentuating them. So I decided to redo the costume entirely before my photoshoot, which I finally got around to this August.

poisonivy1Having learned from the first version, I knew that I would need to make something that resembled a corset – so that I could pull it on and off without ruining the carefully glued leaves. Corsets are expensive, so I opted to use the one I wore under my wedding dress instead of buy a new one. It was an underbust corset, so I decided to stick with the theme from the first costume version and accent a bra with the bright red leaves to play up the color contrast. From there the process was pretty much the same – gluing green leaves on every exposed piece of the corset. It took multiple test runs in the costume and plenty of time in front of the mirror to insure that every inch was covered, but it worked.

After I finished the gluing, I swapped the ties in the back of the corset for some green cording. I finished the costume with a green “leaf thong” that I whipped up quickly, realizing I hadn’t thought of what I was going to wear for bottoms. Since the tights I bought were entirely opaque I didn’t even really need anything, but it would have looked odd not having anything down south.

For the shoot I called on photographer David Nusbaum, who I had worked with once in the past at a group shootout. David has a fantastic eye for outdoor photography in particular, so he was a perfect fit for the concept. Makeup, which helped to pull together the entire project, was courtesy of Ali Beuning, whocover-large also did the makeup for my Marie Antoinette ensemble and Elektra costume (pictures coming soon). I only gave Ali a small amount of guidance. She did the bulk of the imagineering herself. I love the leaf eyebrows, making the whole look slightly wicked even when smiling. The red coloring by the sides of the face and green on the neck and collarbone were other great touches.

We scouted out a location near the historic Fort Snelling for the shoot and spent the better part of a day on location. The bulk of the time was spent tramping through the forest looking for interesting growth and structures to pose with. Some of my favorites were a downed tree and some beautiful hanging vines. The pictures look fantastic and effortless in some ways, but the shoot wasn’t easy – especially in heels. I ended up with hives all over my body by the end of the day, stung by every type of spiky plant imaginable. I also realized I was lying in animal scat while on the downed tree a bit too late. But hey, I was one with nature.

When we finished up in the forest we ended the shoot down near the Mississippi river for a few final ideas. I had stitched Pam’s initials onto a straitjacket (yes, I had one lying around), using the prop for a few pictures to make it look like she had just escaped from Arkham Asylum. I am still kicking myself for forgetting that we have 3918964425_ee0ee36307_obranded AA straitjackets at work from the recent game release – a huge missed opportunity in my book. It would have been perfect. But I think you get the idea I was going for.

I was also inspired by a piece I saw of Ivy on Deviant Art, where she appeared to be watering herself in a fun and slightly cheesecake manner. I had purchased a watering can just for the occasion and the water felt great on all the random rashes I was developing on my arms and chest. I ended up in the river for a few shots, thankful for the warm weather, then called it a day. The shoot was a success in my book.

Having recently shot the costume, I think Ivy is retired for the time being – but just until I recruit my friend to whip up a Harley costume. Then the pair of girlfriends will come out to play.

Enjoy the photos!

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46 thoughts on “Cosplay Feature: Pam Isley/Poison Ivy

  1. What a great photo shoot!

    I want to thank you for sharing with us the whole process that it takes to put the cosplay together

  2. Thank you so much for writing about the process of making your costume. It looks great!! Really, I’m so glad that I found someone who cosplays Poison Ivy so incredibly well; it makes me excited to try my own hand at this costume! :D

  3. You look fabulous and very seductive. I wish if I knew whether or not if you were a Senior in High School or not cause if yes, then I would totally ask you out. These pictures just steal both my soul and heart away.

  4. I am planning on doing a cosplay of Poison Ivy and after reading what you wrote I actually have faith that I can make it!! You did such a wonderful job! :D I’ve been searching for a great version of her!
    How much all together did it cost you? And your wig is really well made, since you bought it off ebay, do you know if the User still selling wigs?

  5. Thank you Anya!

    I’m pretty sure that I got the wig through this store. It’s the one I usually use! http://stores.ebay.com/professionalonly

    As for the total cost of the costume – probably less than $100. Silk flowers are not very expensive, and I already had the corset and shoes! Good luck with your version!

  6. Hi, your cosplays are wonderfull. I liked your Ivy Poison costume … please could you tell me where you bought the red and green leaves? the web page? thanks and best regards

    Yolanda

  7. Hey there! Glad you like the costume! I picked up all of the leaves from JoAnn’s. They have a great selection of silk flowers and foliage. Hope that helps!

  8. Hi! I absolutely adore what you did with this costume, it’s incredable! I’m attempting to make one like it in a few days and all of our details really helped! I’m planning to make it out of a bodysuit that i’ve attached a zipper to the front to avoid your mistake the first time (THANKS!!) – just wondering how did you get it to be so flexible so you can sit?

    Sandy.

  9. It is actually two pieces. The bottom is a thong with some leaves on the front and the back – it didn’t need to cover a ton since I had opaque stockings on that you couldn’t see through ;)

  10. This is amazing!! You did an outstanding job. Love everything from the wig to the boots! I’m sad we don’t get to see the whole cape though =/ I am going to attempt to recreate something similar to this for a costume party. Hope it turns out half as good as yours. One question though – you said you used a bra for the top portion – how did you attach the bra and the corset? Or did they stay separate pieces?

  11. This cosplay is amazing! I showed my best friend some of these pictures to convince her to cosplay as Ivy with my boyfriend and I (I’m going to be Harley Quinn and my boyfriend as the Joker) and I’m pretty sure she’s sold! Thanks for having an awesome cosplay and helping me prove my point!

  12. Hope you still check your pages… I found your costume while trying to find a solution to my bodysuit issue. Your costume is beautiful and resourceful! When you tighten the corset did the leaves rip off at all? Or were you able to give the corset a good squeeze without any problems? I am worried that I will glue all the leaves, pull the cords and then lose all my work and ruin the corset… Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

  13. The leaves stayed on quite well, actually, even with the tightening! :)

    Over time a handful started to fall off, but for the most part I didn’t have any issues. I’ve also heard of cosplayers sewing the leaves on individually, which might be more secure and flexible if you have the time. :P

  14. All of the cosplay shoots look awesome. I came across your page while researching ideas for my Halloween costume. The really like the 3-piece idea. I was wondering because I cannot tell from the pics… are the red leaves larger than the green? I ask because the only green leaves that I can find to compliment the dark red maples are fairly smaller green ivy garlands.

  15. I love your costume! I’m planning on going as Poison Ivy to Comic Con in Boston next year and I’d like to use an underbust corset, as well. I was just wondering what it looked like when you put the green cording in? It doesn’t look like you had any bulging in the back which has been my concern. How did you get it to stay smooth? Thanks!

  16. Hi Meagan,

    I’m glad I found your page! I don’t know if I’m going to be able to put the same amount of time in but I’m going as Poison Ivy for Hallowe’en, and at the very least I’m hoping the costume is recognizable! (Sounds silly but I’ve seen bad ones…) I’m intrigued that you used 3 separate parts for the bodysuit, because obviously finding a strapless green onesy is a pretty narrow search. Were you able to move much in the costume without exposing the edges of the 3 pieces? If I knew I would have time to glue that many leaves I would probably do the same, but I might not. Do you have any thoughts on other ways to solve the bodysuit dilemma? Finally, around how much would the wig cost?
    Thanks.

  17. Hey there, great costume! I’m thinking of doing something like this the next time Comic-Con comes around, so I was really wondering roughly how many fake leaves went into making this costume? I don’t want to buy too little/too much since I plan to buy in bulk from China. Thank you in advance :)

  18. Hey!! Dear Lord, this is absolutely gorgeous! My goal is to try and replicate this as closely as possible, except I may add a slight skirt as to not have the tops of my thighs showing.. about how many leaves did you use for this? I’m going this weekend to get some leaves. Thank you! Again, this is absolutely stunning.

  19. Hi, LOVE your cosplay, so authentic looking! Can I ask how exactly you went about adding the top part to the underbust?

  20. Hey Courtney! Sorry to say I don’t remember exactly how many leaves I used. I purchased a few bundles from the local craft store. Good thing is they were not very expensive – It only cost $30 or so for all the leaves!

  21. Hello E-Marie! They aren’t actually attached! I decorated the bra and corset separately, and they butt up next to each other nicely when worn. Simple enough!

  22. Hey Demi! Sorry I can’t say exactly how many, but you shouldn’t have to order from China for a good deal! I usually shop at Joann’s or Michaels, and with coupons you should be able to get all you need for $25 or so!

  23. Hello Cassandra! I was able to move quite well! If you stagger the leaves a bit on the edge of each piece, it hides the seams quite nicely. As for the wig, I think it was about $30. :)

  24. Hello Anna! No real bulging because I used a thin cord, but there are ways to hide it if you’re concerned! You could create a little leaf flap with velcro to put over the seam, if you like!

  25. I stumpled upon your website and LOVE this costume. I plan on doing something very similar for halloween this year, just wating on my corset to arrive. Just wanted to say thanks for the detailed How-to info. It wa a huge help. If it turns out HALF as good as yours, I will be more than satisfied.

    You’re fantastic!

  26. WOW! Just wow! I’ve been looking at different versions to try for this cosplay and I’m so glad you posted your experience. I have one version made, but I’m not crazy about it and this gave me inspiration!! Thanks again!

  27. Ah Poison Ivy another on of my fave villainesses along side Harley Quinn. Really cool set you’ve done here.

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