Cosplay combines two great things – great characters from sci-fi and fantasy, and hot women in real life – and the best of both come together in model and designer Marie-Claude Bourbonnais. The French Canadian model has taken the cosplay world by storm over the last several years, impressing even purists with her incredibly detailed and always sexy costumes. Along with her stunning looks and talent as a seamstress, Marie-Claude is an actual fan of fantasy, anime, manga, and video game characters.
As a child, she loved to create costumes for school plays and events, and Marie-Claude began by studying fashion design. She went on to become a glamour model, first getting noticed in 2008 when she was selected for a high profile calendar project, which turned into a series of modelling gigs. By 2009, she was already experimenting with cosplay, and the fan reaction was enough to let her know it could grow into a way of life.
Lots of people would love to dress up like their fave anime characters, but not a lot of them would have either the skill or the patience to create their own costumes. For her, that includes working with materials like latex and leather, even shoe making and building props and installations. Marie-Claude often spends 100 hours or more on each costume, and routinely brings three or four to each convention that she attends. She's attended more than 50 conventions throughout North America, into Mexico, Argentina, and beyond.
Nowadays, Marie-Claude works out of her own studio/workshop near Quebec City. Her ultimate goal? To make costumes for the movies. We think she should star in a few of them too.
15 Power Girl
Costume making is a real passion for Marie-Claude. She wore this Power Girl cosplay at Montreal Comic-con 2014. As she explained in an interview, she made the entire costume down to the last detail, including leather gloves and shoes. Marie-Claude has her own studio near Quebec City where she does all the work, including the molding and painting involved in some pieces – not just cutting and sewing fabrics. As she describes it, it's a process with a lot of trial and error. The blue leather gloves in her outfit, for example, took a week of perfecting. We'd have to say that the results are worth all the effort. Power Girl is a character in an alternate DC universe, the cousin of Superman in Earth-Two. We don't see a lot of her in the comics anymore, but we could certainly use more of Marie-Claude's version of this Kryptonian superhero.
14 Rachnera Arachnera
Some of Marie-Claude's cosplay designs, like her incredible Rachnera Arachnera spider, are more like art installations than mere costumes. It was at Anime Expo 2016 in Los Angeles that Marie-Claude unleashed her version of Rachnera Arachnera. She's a character from Monster Musume, a monthly Japanese manga series that has been written and illustrated by Okayado since 2012, and became an anime series in 2015. It takes place in a world where the government has concealed the identity of monsters, or Lamia, from the public. Rachnera Arachnera is one of the Lamia in the story, gifted with agility and superhuman reflexes, among other traits. She also – lucky for us – almost always dresses in revealing outfits. Marie-Claude went all out crafting this costume, which is made of fiberglass over a frame of metal tubing. She shared the details and process of crafting it with her fans on Instagram and other social media. The seat is about 5 feet above the ground, designed like a saddle so that Marie-Claude could stay in place for hours and hours during the convention.
13 MKX Scorpion
Vengeance will be mine! But we'd forgive it if it came in this sexy package. The making of Marie-Claude's elaborate Scorpion costume is something she shared with her fans on her website and social media. Scorpion hails from the universe of Mortal Kombat X, the classic fighting video game by NetherRealm Studios and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. There are various elements to the costume, the but the one component everyone thinks of first is the mask. Marie-Claude often spends hours upon hours in her costumes at conventions, so something like a mask needs to be super comfortable. As someone who's modelled for video game characters before, Marie-Claude had previously had a 3D scan of her entire body done. She sent the digitized scan to a company that used 3D printing technology to create a mask modelled on the exact dimensions of her face. Then, to make it more durable, she did a mold of the mask and reproduced it in silicone with fiberglass, painted for an exact match to the fabric of her costume.
12 Rainbow Mika
As Marie-Claude's fame has grown, she's been asked to appear at comic, anime, and other conventions around the world. She appeared as R. Mika at the ConComics Artist convention in Guadalajara Mexico in 2011. R. Mika, (also known as Rainbow Mika, or Mika Nanakawa) is a character from that arcade and video game classic, Street Fighter by Capcom, and first appeared in Street Fighter Alpha 3. In the game, she's a professional wrestler from the Iwashigahama Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling organization. Her typically revealing costume was made for Marie-Claude's curves to fill out, although we're torn over whether the outfit should include the blue heart shapes over her breasts, or use the heart shaped hole that appears in some versions of R. Mika. As a character, R. Mika apparently counts Street Fighter producer Yoshinaro Ono among her fans, even though he isn't always able to convince the director of the series to include her in all the games. We bet if he saw Marie-Claude's version, he might just change his mind.
11 Hornet On Heroes Of The North
They Stand On Guard... Marie-Claude was a natural choice to be part of Heroes of the North, a series about Canadian superheroes produced in her native Montreal. The independent series appears as a web TV series, comic books, photo series, and more, including DVDs and other merchandise, and ran in various forms from 2010 to 2013. Marie-Claude was cast as Hornet, a sexy villain. In the story, the superheroes work for a government organization, and Hornet, aka Hortense Netter, runs an organization called Medusa Industries, a secretive – and evil – organization whose Commander is none other than Doctor Josef Mengele. She was a real badass in the series, a helicopter pilot who used her signature high-tech sting gun and hand-to-hand combat skills for the evil Doctor and his world domination schemes. While her motives may be evil, we have to say we approve of Hornet's latex suit.
10 Caitlin Fairchild
Marie-Claude created a sensation with this costume early in her career. The character is Caitlin Fairchild of the Gen 13 series. The popular series revolves around teen superheroes and was produced by Image Comics, which eventually became part of DC Comics. Caitlin Fairchild is the leader and brains of the group of 5 teen superheroes, and she's a perfect character for Marie-Claude and her assets. In the story, Caitlin begins as a normal girl, but then her muscles and body mass plump up spontaneously, turning her into a hot, buxom swimsuit model type. When her powers are activated, her clothes shred as she bursts into her more nubile form. In the story, Caitlin's portrayed as being a little uncomfortable with her Gen-Activated version, but we're not sensing that in Marie-Claude's cosplay. She's got stamina, agility, strength, super smarts...and she plumps herself into that slick costume with style.
9 Katsuragi Misato - Race Queen Version
What we love about Marie-Claude Bourbonnais is not just that she's super hot, or that she has such great skill and talent in creating costumes, it's that she's such an obvious fan of anime, manga, video gaming and all geek culture. Take her costume of Katsuragi Misato from the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime. Dragon Con takes over Atlanta every September, and Marie-Claude's cosplay was a hit in 2010 at her first convention appearance. In the Evangelion universe, Misato Katsuragi is a key figure in NERV, the paramilitary agency leading Earth's defense against the Angels. But in creating her masterfully detailed cosplay, Marie-Claude didn't just go for the usual costume. No, she chose the race queen version. In Japan, a race queen is one of those scantily clad babes who promote race cars and wave the flags at races. Marie-Claude combines a brainy character with a sexy costume -- and wins.
Sometimes, Marie-Claude's costumes take weeks or even months of work from design to finishing touches, with an elaborate level of detail that fans love her for. Other times, well there just isn't a lot of fabric to put the details on. Take Vampirella, a role Marie-Claude took on for a photo shoot. Not that there really needs to be a reason for checking her out in this stunning cosplay. While she was never part of the uber popular Marvel or DC Comics crowd, Vampirella has been a fan fave since her debut in 1969 for obvious reasons. She's been in print since her early days with Warren Publishing, taken over by Harris Publications, and finally ending up with Dynamite Entertainment, who have been publishing her stories since 2010. It's easy to see why the succession of companies has found her worthwhile pursuing.
7 Sue Storm
Marie-Claude was in the process of making a name for herself on the convention circuit when she made her appearance at the NYCC (New York Comic-Con) in 2010. While her famous shape is certainly a big part of her appeal, for her portrayal of the Fantastic Four's Sue Storm, she relied just as much on getting the details right and creating an authentic looking and feeling version of the character. Not that there's anything wrong with going super sexy. But, here she showed her future fans where her heart really lies – in designing and creating character costumes with a level of detail that you'd have to call a little obsessive, in a good kind of way. A geeky good kind of way. Her use of latex was unusual in non-fetish cosplay at the time, and helped to generate the buzz. The sheer awesomeness of her Sue Storm cosplay was lost neither on fans nor the media, who helped launch her into the career she now enjoys.
Marie-Claude was working as a glamour model when she launched her bid for a place in the world of cosplay. One of the ways she did that was in a series of pics taken as part of a Mortal Kombat tribute series dreamed up by P&P Image Factory. The Montreal photo studio is a regular collaborator with Marie-Claude in a variety of shoots, and we'd have to rate this as one of the best. For this elaborately detailed costume, she made a series of molds and then castings to create the armour and mask. In the world of Mortal Kombat, Frost is a female ninja who is a Cryomancer, like her male counterpart, Sub Zero. We love the amazing level of detail she's able to incorporate in the gloves, and even in the narrow strips of leather-like material that are (barely) covering her boobs. Props for good use of a smoke machine, too. Once pics from the shoot went online, the reaction was pretty much instantaneous, and led her to be the cosplay queen she is today.
5 Betty The Soda Pop Girl And Lug
Marie-Claude not only creates her own costumes from the ground up, she also sometimes creates props and other installations. She was invited to the Anime Expo 2015 in Los Angeles, and other conventions that year, as part of the Ninja Division Publishing, who were at the convention to promote the Soda Pop Miniatures series, a popular tabletop game. Marie-Claude was Betty, one of three Soda Pop Girls in a fetching orange racer outfit. Marie-Claude has worked with Relic Knights, the company that makes Soda Pop Miniatures, on an ongoing basis, and her costume wasn't her only contribution to the convention. She also created Lug the robot, painstakingly crafted in a process that ate up about six months of her life, as she chronicled on social media for her fans. With the deadline looming, she used a car painting service to be able to complete it in time for the convention floor, but the results, we have to say, are spectacular.
4 Elsy Valnitier
Marie-Claude's own fandom clearly embraces a wide range of fantasy and sci-fi in various media. She says in a social media post that her photo shoot of Elsy Valnitier comes from early in her cosplay career. The costume involved a lot of fake tattoos and leather, and even without knowing the background, we'd have to approve. Elsy Valnitier is a character in a series of novels called Les Chimères de Mirinar or Chimaeras of Mirinar by French Canadian author Anne Robillard. The story combines dark fantasy and action, focusing on Elsy, a mercenary, and Elodianne, a magician. The two women have been friends since childhood, but their paths and philosophies diverge as their world faces a mutant epidemic. The stories verge on political commentary as Elsy, who runs an agency for mercenaries, is called on to lead a dangerous mission against inhuman forces.
Marie-Claude is a dead ringer for Ryofu in a cosplay she unveiled at the Atlanti-Con Science Fiction Festival n September 2015. The character comes from Ikkitousen, or Ikki Tousen — called Battle Vixens in North America — a manga and anime series based in part on Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a Chinese novel. The plot involves the fighters of seven high schools basically duking it out for supremacy, with sacred jewels and a lot of other complications. Ryofu Hosen is one of the fighters, and we have to applaud Marie-Claude's choice of her for cosplay. In the story, Ryofu is known for wearing super short skirts and knee socks, groping one of the male characters, and enjoying the gropes of others. Oh, and she's brave too. With her green pigtails and school girl outfit, Marie-Claude nailed it.
2 Rin Farrah
Soda Pop Miniatures by Relic Knights is a tabletop game of strategy and battle that uses cards to advance the game play. The hook is that they use scale miniatures to bring the characters and game play to life on the board, each about 30mm high and incredibly detailed. Marie-Claude has worked with Soda Pop Miniatures on more than one occasion and has modelled for characters in the game. One of them is Rin Farrah, a fighting character most often seen with her cohort, the Suicide Queen, and a role she took on at GenCon 2012 in Indianapolis. In the world of Relic Knights, Rin Farrah comes from Cerci, formerly an environmentally degraded planet that has been remediated into a planet of gambling and other vices. The Cerci girls are flashy and fast, just like we like them. What's not to like about this cosplay? We especially love the use of... orange, along with the armour details, natch.
1 Green Lantern
Green Lantern, the 2011 movie starring Ryan Reynolds, may be how Ryan met Blake Lively, but the flick got an embarrassing 26 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and we'd have to agree with that assessment. Reynolds makes a great Deadpool, no question, but for whatever reason, and despite the romantic sparks flying off screen, he could never get them to ignite for the Marvel superhero. A few years later, Marie-Claude showed the world a different version of the interstellar cop at the 2014 Montreal Comic-con, and we're betting no one rated her any less than A+ for her sleek latex cosplay. It's a role she's taken on more than once, but we doubt we'd ever get tired of seeing her in this shiny, skin tight confection, complete with white leather gloves and, of course, that magic ring.
Sources: CityNet Magazine; La Presse; Cosplay Culture.