Today, Ariana wants to be Moana. Yesterday, it was Queen Elsa. The other day, she needed to be Ariel so she could rescue her Shopkins at the bottom of the tub while taking a bath. Of course, the week before, she was the long-lost princess Rapunzel, which made for a strong case as to why we were not allowed to get anywhere near her with a pair of trimming scissors. This is what our days at home often look like—it involves magical days of living the life of a Disney princess.
With that, of course, it includes shopping for a princess dress, an exercise Daddy dreads because no princess dress is ever cheap! Thankfully, unlike Belle's over-the-top ball gown, Moana's "island girl" look is easier to craft at home. For a Moana-inspired fashion, I had been scouring the internet for inspirations when I came across Gladzy Kei's creative Moana look! When Ariana first saw her photos, the little one thought she just saw the real-life Moana and wanted to know more. Naturally, I probed deeper and found out that this highly creative sculptor and illustrator is a Filipina based in Alberta, Canada. Huh, small world!
In our interview with this "real-life" Moana, Gladzy Kei gives us a closer look at what sparked her love for cosplay, how she put together her Moana look and what it was like to shoot her now-viral Moana photos (one photo alone had more than 180,000 likes on her Instagram account @gladzykei) in paradise El Nido, Palawan.
The Gospel of Beauty: What sparked your interest in cosplay and performance art?
Gladzy Kei: My love for all things anime, movie and game characters inspired me to cosplay!
TGOB: Among all the Disney princesses you've dressed up as a character, which one was your favorite?
GK: Moana, for sure! It is because I was able to relate to her character so much and her story reminded me of my motherland, the Philippines.
TGOB: Walk us through your creative process. Did you have to create the costumes yourself and how long did it take you to do it—from concept to execution?
GK: I created it with the assistance of my friend who measured me, and we only had literally one day to finish the costume before our photo shoot in El Nido, Palawan the next day.
TGOB: Describe how that photo shoot experience was for you?
GK: It was fun because I was with my entire family and, for most of them, it was their first time to see me in action while on a cosplay photo shoot. One funny moment was when we were trying to shoot the "wave hi-five" photo, and my cousin was basically splashing me in the face for our first few runs. After a few takes, we finally got the perfect stock wave and it was amazing!
TGOB: Were you surprised by your social media fans' comments after your photo went viral?
GK: Definitely surprised! I thought it was a glitch at first (laughing out loud)!
TGOB: Is there another Disney character you plan to cosplay in the future?
GK: Moana, Moana, Moana! (Laughing.) I don't know yet, maybe some other characters from the movie, Te Fiti or Te Ka, or maybe both.
TGOB: What's your advice to other young kids wanting to express their creative selves through cosplay or performance art?
GK: Do what you love and don't let anybody talk you down! Keep pushing forward!
TGOB: Where do you often go to cosplay?
GK: I usually go to a lot of North American conventions.
TGOB: Who is your mentor or inspiration when it comes to dressing up creatively?
GK: There are so many, but I'd like to give a shout out to Kamui Cosplay, Alodia, Lightning Cosplay, and Yaya Han who have inspired me to live the dream!
Like Gladzy Kei, there's no reason why you couldn't get creative and borrow Moana's "island girl" look. If DIY is not your thing, you're in luck! We've found a few style pieces to help complete your Moana-inspired look:
Finally, keep in mind that the best piece of accessory to complete your look is confidence. Like Moana, we bold and embrace to live life to the fullest. You'll never know what adventure awaits you past the forbidden reef!