Eiko Ishioka: Trapped in Her Own imagination

Arts Illustrated is an elegant new magazine looking at the best and most interesting in culture and design from around the world. Clothes on Film editor Chris Laverty has a regular column in the magazine entitled ‘The Fabric of Cinema’ in which he analyses the symbolic application of costume design in movies, both old and new. The maiden issue of Arts Illustrated focuses on neo-surrelism, and the first Fabric of Cinema column is about that master of costume surrealism, Eiko Ishioka. Laverty takes an in-depth, sometimes critical look at her work with particular focus on The Cell. Below are the first two paragraphs of the article, the remainder of which can be read by purchasing a copy of Arts Illustrated:

‘There is little reason to dispute costume designer Eiko Ishioka as an artist. Her portfolio is stamped over cinema, television and theatre with enough beauty and excess to ensure immortality. On the surface Ishioka’s output may appear challenging, but this could not be further from the truth. While never less than eccentric, her costumes were always obvious. Obviously beautiful, obviously ostentatious and obviously more memorable than any of the films they appeared in. She bent cinema to her will, and it is this control, or rather domination of the medium that ultimately forms her legacy. Eiko the artist never let a good story get in the way of her imagination.

Neo-surrealism is the foundation of all Ishioka’s work. Put very simply, neo-surrealism is fantasy dream art, the subconscious mind filtered through the fingers of an artist. It is a resurgent form since the 1970s but strongest since the advent of computer generated design. Although dream imagery is a contradiction, say a shipwreck in the middle of an abandoned city, it must be contextually convincing. The literal manifestation of a dream requires not the suspension of disbelief, but comprehension that what we see is not possible. If it looks real, it is not neo-surrealism. Ishioka’s signature as an artist are arguably the puppet hats she created in collaboration with director Tarsem Singh, e.g. the Swan headdress worn by Lily Collins in Mirror, Mirror (2012) and the horns and teeth helmet seen on Mickey Rourke in Immortals (2011) – these are physical expressions of childish cruelty. Ishioka is poking fun, she is playing with us…’

The Arts Illustrated digital download (for iOS, Android, etc) can be purchased by subscription or on an issue-to-issue basis HERE.

© 2013 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.