In the last Academy Awards Ceremony, a special mention was granted to Japanese artist Eiko Ishioka, recently deceased. Ishioka had been nominated for the costumes she designed for the film Mirror, Mirror, starring Julia Roberts, although she did not win the award this time.
Eiko Ishioka (Tokyo, 1938-2012) studied art and music at the National University of Tokyo and developed her professional career in the art world as a graphic designer, art director, and couturier for screen and stage. She also created the uniforms for the delegations of Switzerland, Canada, Spain and Japan for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and was director of costume design for the breathtaking opening ceremonies in Beijing in 2008.
Ishioka dressed musicians and actresses like Faye Dunaway and the always-controversial Björk and Grace Jones. The Japanese artist was highly praised for the costumes she crafted for Cirque du Soleil, Broadway and the opera. In 1986 she won a Grammy for the artwork of Miles Davis’ album Tutu.
But her greatest achievements were in the world of cinema. She collaborated in the films Closet Land, The Cell, The Fall, Mirror Mirror, and Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula (1992), which won her the Academy Award for Best Costume Design. Eiko was the only fashion designer who could deliver Coppola‘s vision for this cult classic.
The baroque and over the top themes she produced for Hollywood, contrasted with her minimalist apartment on Central Park South in New York, which she purchased in 1998. The interior— painted in radiant white— had virtually no furniture.
This visionary artist, who loved surrealism, created costumes that shone with their own light, real works of art, admired by world-renowned designers like Alexander McQueen and Issey Miyake.
Eiko Ishioka died in Tokyo in January 2013 at the age of 73, leaving behind a long list of awards and contributions to the world of international film making. ■