Eiko Ishioka was best known as the creator of the costumes on Bram Stoker’s Dracula in collaboration with Francis Ford Coppola. She came from a production design background which shows in the architectural nature of her costumes. Ms. Ishioka's work on Dracula is part of a terrific exhibit at The Museum of the Moving Image, Persol: Magnifient Obsessions. The exhibit features 30 different professionals in the film industry and examines their creative process in great detail.
In her section of the show, you can see that instead of the cliché satin lined cape, she designed Count Dracul’s armor to resemble anatomic muscles and veins. While this was a period movie, her ensembles did not adhere to strict period construction. The silhouettes resembled the Victorian time period, but at close inspection, the pleats and draping had very structured, origami-like shapes that were their own fashion sculpture.
While I have seen many traditional costume design sketches from classic movies and costumers, it was interesting to see how different Ishioka's process was. Ishioka’s sketches were big, barely a pencil outline for hands or faces. The illustrations were only partially rendered. The areas that were illustrated were intricately detailed, like the starched lace ruff on Lucy, the embroidery on Mina’s gown or the individual muscle tissue on Dracula. Traditional costume renderings always had detailed faces and characters resembling the actors who would play them.
Eiko Ishioka was an artist and icon in this field. She pushed the genre of film costume to new boundaries. How did she inspire you?