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The sublime costumes of the new fairytale adventure ‘Mirror Mirror’, ranging from the Queen’s outrageous golden and blood red gowns to Snow White’s pastel court gowns and her spare and sculptural battle gear, were created by the late Eiko Ishioka in what was to be her last film. The Oscar-winning costume designer worked with director Tarsem Singh on four films before her death in January of 2012.
“She was born outside the box,” says Singh of Ishioka. “Every director is always trying to get people to think differently. You never had to tell her that. Everything about her was unconventional, even her research and how she did it—and how much of it she did. She had two speeds: full speed and stop. When you have a person like that, you just never let them go. “
Ishioka, who earned an Oscar for the spectacular costumes in Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, was also a respected visual artist whose work is the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. “She was an incredible artist,” says Singh. “She didn’t just design pieces of clothing, she created works of art.”
Her elaborate and imaginative designs combine pageantry and personality, drawing on influences from the 16th to 19th centuries to create something entirely new. “Eiko was all about spectacle,” says Goldmann. “But, like Tom Foden and Brendan Galvin, everything she did was also about building character. She was a genius at the visual, but she was also an amazing help in building Snow White’s and the Prince’s characters. The actors had an arc not only emotionally, but also physically.”
Impressively, her sensational designs were not limited to the gowns and suits worn by the film’s stars. Ishioka also designed the over 300 costumes that are worn by the film’s extras. Almost all were handmade. Hammer says that all that effort is part of what makes the film so special. “The costumes really set the tone for the entire movie. Eiko did a wonderful job creating something that seems so operatic and over the top, yet at the same time completely believable.”
Executive producer Kevin Misher says the collaboration between Singh and Ishioka went beyond the aesthetic to the spiritual. “The work they did together speaks to that connection,” he says. “I think her work on this film is a testament to her artistry in general and to their relationship in particular. It is a lovely gift she leaves for us to remember how special she was.”
Makeup and hairstyles designed for the film by hair and make-up artist Felicity Bowring add to the hyperbolic opulence of the costumes. “Everything stems from Eiko’s designs,” says Bowring. “It was delicious to work with her vibrant colors. Imagine people wearing vivid red, yellow, orange, green, hot pink and silver all in the same scene.
For a costume ball, we created about ten face-painted animal masks for the guests instead of having the usual masks that go onto people’s faces. And the hair had to go with the proportions of the costumes. When a dress has a bustle that sits three feet out from the body, a wig has to offset that and be tall enough so that it too looks extraordinary.”
Image Courtesy of Mirror Mirror