Thread By Thread: Costumes on Screen
The classic fairytale is nodded to in one of the final scenes of the film, the former opulence of the Queen is all gone, and rather we see her in her true form for the first time.

Oscar Frontrunners- Mirror,Mirror

I have already covered some of the costumes from the opulent Mirror, Mirror on Thread By Thread but with an Oscar nomination the film understandably deserves a more in depth look. This film is costume designer Eiko Ishioka last film as she passed away from cancer and was even undergoing chemotherapy while working on the film. The elaborate fantasy costumes in this film remain a testament to her creative brilliance and understandably have earned her a nomination for an Academy Award. “She was not well during the movie; she was undergoing chemotherapy. But Eiko had only two gears: full-out or no gear at all. Her work kept her alive—it was her reason for being,” director Tarem Singh says of Eiko’s work on Mirror, Mirror.

Costume Designer Eiko Ishioka examines Snow White’s Swan Ball Gown, multiple copies were made due to the fact that Snow is exiled to the forest and trains with the Seven Dwarves in the same dress.

Costume Designer Eiko Ishioka examines Snow White’s Swan Ball Gown, multiple copies were made due to the fact that Snow is exiled to the forest and trains with the Seven Dwarves in the same dress.

The film is set in a fantasy realm, something which allowed Ishioka to freely create costumes without ties to a certain period. She turned then to classic fairytale motifs, everything got bigger, more exaggerated and became richer in color and many of the costumes harkened back to animals, something not often found in the real world. To create this elaborate Fairy Tale setting Ishioka had to create over 400 costumes, alter another 600 costumes in addition to creating unique masks, hats, jewelry and more at 4 major New York costume shops: Tricorne costumes, Jennifer Love Costumes, Carelli Costumes and Eric Winterling Costumes, in addition to her own shop in Montreal.

The flower and bird appliqué evident on her bodice actually continues down the front of her skirt. Standing next in her pale sky blue room, Snow represents the idealized version of nature and sweetness.

The flower and bird appliqué evident on her bodice actually continues down the front of her skirt. Standing next in her pale sky blue room, Snow represents the idealized version of nature and sweetness.

Looking at the first costume we see heroine Snow White in, it is the most “traditional” of the gowns it has the classic Disney Snow White silhouette but breaks away from tradition in the details. Snow may be a princess trapped inside the castle but her connection to nature is evident in the embroidery on her pink bodice as well as the flowers printed on her bright yellow skirt. The gown evokes nature and Snow’s desire to belong to it once more but also displays her sheltered life in that the colors she believes are in nature do not exist when she actually goes there.

The Queen relaxes into her thrown which is ironically a mirror of her silhouette upside down.

The Queen relaxes into her thrown which is ironically a mirror of her silhouette upside down.

A detail shot of the amazing battleship hats created for this short scene, likely a derivative of the famous style Marie Antoinette wore.

A detail shot of the amazing battleship hats created for this short scene, likely a derivative of the famous style Marie Antoinette wore.

Ishioka used a variety of period silhouettes for the court, visible on the playing field are shapes ranging from the late 17th century to the late 19th century, in addition to having each costume reflect the style of battleship upon their head. Ishioka used a variety of period silhouettes for the court, visible on the playing field are shapes ranging from the late 17th century to the late 19th century, in addition to having each costume reflect the style of battleship upon their head.

Ishioka used a variety of period silhouettes for the court, visible on the playing field are shapes ranging from the late 17th century to the late 19th century, in addition to having each costume reflect the style of battleship upon their head. Ishioka used a variety of period silhouettes for the court, visible on the playing field are shapes ranging from the late 17th century to the late 19th century, in addition to having each costume reflect the style of battleship upon their head.

In contrast the film gown we see the wicked Queen in is a sumptuous golden peach embroidered gown that reflects the Queen’s golden throne. The gown is large and imposing yet beautiful, reflective of the Queen’s reign and personality. The Queen imposes her power on her subjects by making them dress as decorative battleships, with literal model battle ships on their head.

The absence of pattern on the cloak enables Snow not only to blend in upon her visit to the village but also to reveal her unique disposition in the snowy forest.

The absence of pattern on the cloak enables Snow not only to blend in upon her visit to the village but also to reveal her unique disposition in the snowy forest.

The Seven Dwarves: Half Pint, Butcher, Napoleon, Grimm, Chuckles, Grub &Wolf. Each of their costumes reflects their personality and style of thievery and are reminiscent of the classic Commedia Del’Arte costumed characters.

The Seven Dwarves: Half Pint, Butcher, Napoleon, Grimm, Chuckles, Grub &Wolf. Each of their costumes reflects their personality and style of thievery and are reminiscent of the classic Commedia Del’Arte costumed characters.

The accordion style stilts and their face mask further tie the Dwarves into the Italian theatrical form Commedia Del’Arte, known for its physicality and easily recognizable stock characters in each play.

The accordion style stilts and their face mask further tie the Dwarves into the Italian theatrical form Commedia Del’Arte, known for its physicality and easily recognizable stock characters in each play.

Snow then literally decided to flee the castle donning a saffron yellow cape lined with pink silk which matches her gown beneath. “That is one of the most beautiful moments in the movie. She is like a ‘50s Technicolor character stepping into a black and white film,” Singh says of the outfit. In the forest we also encounter the charming Prince Alcott, he and his companion are then robbed by none other than Snow’s future friends, the Seven Dwarves. Whilst cavorting as bandits the dwarves don all metal masks that cover half of their faces, as well as unique stilts which spring up to give the dwarves advantage over their victims. Each dwarf has their own unique look though, all seven’s costumes are made of the same textured brown fabric.

The Queen, while very regal in this Elizabethan inspired gown, does not exude a feeling of freshness and youth, instead she appears burdened by her desire for opulence.

The Queen, while very regal in this Elizabethan inspired gown, does not exude a feeling of freshness and youth, instead she appears burdened by her desire for opulence.

Snow White’s gown alludes to her forthcoming exile to the forest, overlapping leaves are visible on her gloves and even her wings indicating flight.

Snow White’s gown alludes to her forthcoming exile to the forest, overlapping leaves are visible on her gloves and even her wings indicating flight.

Red not only draws attention to the Queen but it also represnts her cruel nature, to bleed the country dry of money so she may continue to live in excess.

Red not only draws attention to the Queen but it also represnts her cruel nature, to bleed the country dry of money so she may continue to live in excess.

After being rescued by Snow, Prince Alcott meets the Queen, where he is barely clothed and rather comically in old fashioned undergarments whilst having the Queen lust after him. The Queen is much to her own distress, dressed in a mustard yellow gown with a large ruffled neck, making her look very much like Elizabeth I. The Queen then throws an elaborate costume ball in order to woo the young prince. Upon returning, Snow hears of the ball and dons a beautiful white bustled ball gown complete with wings and a swan headpiece, all representing Snow’s desire to fly away from her step mother’s terrible world. The other guests are all similarly dressed as animals in white. The Queen breaks all the rules by appearing in and elaborate jewel tone red peacock inspired gown. She is escorted by Prince Alcott who also breaks the rules by wearing a black surcoat complete with red lining which matches the Queen’s gown, and is made a further fool by donning a rabbit eared top hat.

The classic fairytale get a modern twist in that Snow White’s kiss saves Prince Alcott from the Queen’s spell. Notice here that Snow White is in the darker more masculine colors and Prince Alcott is in the virginal white.

The classic fairytale get a modern twist in that Snow White’s kiss saves Prince Alcott from the Queen’s spell. Notice here that Snow White is in the darker more masculine colors and Prince Alcott is in the virginal white.

The choice of purple for his second chance meeting with Snow is appropriate, representing both his royal status and his loyalty to Snow White.

The choice of purple for his second chance meeting with Snow is appropriate, representing both his royal status and his loyalty to Snow White.

After finally “fleeing” the castle for good, Snow meets up with the Seven Dwarves who take her in. Ready to embrace the life of a do-good bandit Snow dons the more freeing black pants with a off the shoulder billowing blue shirt complete with a black corset embroideries with silver leaves. The whole outfit is more swashbuckling; Snow is empowered to take control of her kingdom and he clothes reflect that attitude. Once Prince Alcott comes along dressed in a deep purple sporting an Edwardian silhouette cut suit rather than the 18th century sported at court, showing his freshness to Snow’s world, she proves a worthy match to his own swashbuckling skills.

Breaking the news of Snow White’s “death” the Queen is snakelike in green with sharp points surrounding her, much like a reptile.

Breaking the news of Snow White’s “death” the Queen is snakelike in green with sharp points surrounding her, much like a reptile.

Even while “proposing” the Queen creates barriers, still wearing sharp shouldered nightgown which is of course gold and reflective, exemplifying her true greedy nature.

Even while “proposing” the Queen creates barriers, still wearing sharp shouldered nightgown which is of course gold and reflective, exemplifying her true greedy nature.

Meanwhile the Queen is busy with her own plotting to marry the young prince and her costumes grow more nefarious. The shoulders become more pronounced and sharp, most fabric in her costumes are in the shape of sharp blades. This motif of danger even continues onto the Queen’s wedding gown made of layers of points, which I covered here.

In her new role as reigning Princess & wife, Snow White’s silhouette is more grown up, her hair is worn up and the repeating patter often found in the Queen’s costumes is softer and less sharp.

In her new role as reigning Princess & wife, Snow White’s silhouette is more grown up, her hair is worn up and the repeating patter often found in the Queen’s costumes is softer and less sharp.

The classic fairytale is nodded to in one of the final scenes of the film, the former opulence of the Queen is all gone, and rather we see her in her true form for the first time.

The classic fairytale is nodded to in one of the final scenes of the film, the former opulence of the Queen is all gone, and rather we see her in her true form for the first time.

After finally defeating the wicked Queen and reuniting with her father, Snow married Prince Alcott. Her wedding gown forgoes the traditional white, and instead harkens back to the medieval period when brides wore blue. Ishioka designed the gown so Snow would look like a present, a reward to the audience for cheering her along. The voluminous orange bow on her dress was originally designed to be in red but was changed to orange to avoid comparisons to the Disney version. Snow’s red lips and donning of a beautiful tiara signify her transformation from a sheltered girl, to a Princess ready to reign and fight for her country.

This entry was published on February 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm. It’s filed under Entertainment, Feb. 2013 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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