Last week, the film and theatre worlds lost an incredibly talented and unique designer – Eiko Ishioka.
I first became aware of Eiko when I was a teenager. I remember going to see Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the cinema. I thought the costumes were amazing – unlike anything I’d ever seen. Looking back, I think the image of the Vlad the Impaler’s armour was one of the first elements to push me to pursue a career in design. I remember even buying a book of the costume designs for the film.
And then, many years later, I watched Tarsem Singh’s beautiful film The Fall, also designed by Eiko. Another beautifully designed film. She had amazing talent for the beautifully surreal.
A few years ago, I was asked by a friend to collaborate on the shoe portion for a suit of armour for the upcoming Spiderman musical. This soon lead to more conversations about other possible shoe work on the show and to my first meeting with Eiko. She came by my shop with her assistant. I think I played it pretty cool at the time, but it was pretty exciting. We had a good chat about costumes and then a bunch of us went out for dinner. It was a pretty surreal day.
And then, last year, I was contacted about making shoes for Tarsem’s latest film – Mirror Mirror. I, of course, said I was interested. In a fitting room in NYC, I met Eiko again. This time we were working through some fairly complex ideas. I still have a bunch of sketches for a certain pair of boots scribbled over some notes in the notebook I carry around all the time. We sat on a chaise, figuring out how these boots were going to work. She had a pencil, I had a prototype boot that I was cutting apart and taping back together. It was a pretty wild process.
That film project pushed me to make work that surpassed anything I had ever done. It changed the way I approach pretty well everything since. The film – Eiko’s last – opens at the end of March.
I was really looking forward to working with her again.