March 23, 2012 9:02 pm

Culture corner: Wonder wear

The film ‘Mirror Mirror’ is a fitting tribute to Oscar-winning designer Eiko Ishioka

Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures of Snow White tells the tale of Princess Snow (Lily Collins) and her wicked stepmother (Julia Roberts), whose bid to remain youthful and “the fairest of them all” has bankrupted the kingdom, and of what happens when they meet a handsome, wealthy and frequently shirtless Prince (Armie Hammer).

The film, directed by Tarsem Singh, is a fitting tribute to Oscar-winning designer Eiko Ishioka (who died of cancer in January). Ishioka created more than 400 original costumes for Mirror Mirror. “It is bittersweet but a real honour that this was Ishioka’s last movie,” say producers Bernie Goldmann and Kevin Misher, who add that the outfits are “sets in and of themselves”. The Queen, for example, consults her mirror on the wall while wearing a cascading mustard yellow satin gown weighing in at 60lb, cinched at the waist and smoothed across the décolletage by a panel of Spanish lace that furls into a regal ruff. The look is topped with a Van Cleef & Arpels crown. Another stand-out gown – and Roberts’s favourite – is a gothic blood-red pannier dress with Swarovski crystal-encrusted peacock feathers embroidered on the sleeves and bodice. Built on three-tier framed petticoats, the dress was made in New York by Eric Winterling Costumes.

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Nor is Snow understated: her costume ball outfit is a bridal-white gown, 6ft in diameter, with a brocade appliqué bodice, worn with an elegant swan headdress. In the woods, she wears a luminous saffron hooded satin cape, fashioned out of 15 yards of fabric, that is removed to reveal diaphanous puff sleeves on a two-tone pastel satin gown, typifying Ishioka’s east meets west style. In fight scenes, she slips into a Moorish style off-the-shoulder cobalt blue blouse fastened with a black demi-corset. While her army of seven dwarves – here a band of rakish thieves – wear accordion-style black pants styled to sit over stilts.

Outlandish as they may sound, such costumes have real-world relatives. In his spring collection, for example, designer Jason Wu offers powder pink cascading satin, gathered at the waist, perfect for making an entrance into a palace ballroom. And Maison Martin Margiela teamed a midnight blue satin cape jacket with nude fitted shirts and statement tribal shoes.

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