The Mirror Mirror Has Two Faces

Mirror Mirror is the other Snow White story up for the Academy Award for Best Costume this year, like Colleen Atwood’s work on Snow White and the Huntsman.  Both films actually bombed at the box office, and while they tell the same tale, the two films have very different tones.  While Huntsman tells the darker side of the legendary fairy tale, Mirror Mirror is its comedic complement, but it actually has the sad back story.  Its costume designer, Eiko Ishioka died last year after a battle with pancreatic cancer.  This was the last film she outfitted.  She previously won an Oscar for her work on Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula.  According to The New York Times, famed director Coppola said their success was due, “90 percent because she was a genius, and 10 percent because she could not understand a word I said.”   Ishioka was undergoing chemotherapy while working on Mirror Mirror.  Director Tarsem Singh told The Hollywood Reporter, “You would never have known.  She only had two speeds.  Full throttle and stop.  We never had to wait for costumes.”  Ishioka’s incredible use of primary colors throughout the film was a stunning visual experience, especially against the beauty of the film’s two stars (and their tresses), famed redhead Julia Roberts (pictured, above), and the raven-haired Lily Collins (pictured, top right and below).  Singh commented on Ishioka’s work while discussing the evil queen as, “a person who only cares about power… She turned the queen into a peacock, literally a red peacock. You can see her from a mile away.”  (Pictured, top left).  Lily Collins was ideal casting for the girl with, “skin white as snow, lips red as blood, hair black as night,” since that’s how pretty the actress is in day-to-day life!  As Snow White onscreen, we see her first appear in a beautiful pastel pink, blue and yellow gown, decorated with tiny flowers.  According to THR, “Ishioka’s only direction was that the princess was ‘connected to nature.’  Tarsem recalls, ‘She came back with a feminine gown with embroidered hummingbirds, butterflies and flowers that said it all.'” (Pictured, top right).  When Snow attempts to flee, she sports a stunning sunflower-colored cape (pictured, above) that looks strikingly dramatic against Collins’ stark brunette locks.  During the pivotal ball scene, Ishioka came up with the concept that every attendee would be dressed as a different animal (pictured, above).  Prince Charming was played by up-and-comer Armie Hammer, who dressed as a rabbit, while Snow herself had a costume of another stunning white creature, famously known for starting out oppressed: an elegant swan.  The author of the THR article believes the low neckline and wings she wears represents the princess’s desire to break free from the evil queen’s hold on her.  Julia Roberts looks practically like a sister of Queen Elizabeth I, with extravagant ballgowns, high frilly white collars, and famous red hair (pictured, below right).  The Queen’s nemesis becomes quite sporty when she is rescued by seven tiny friends, and hides in the local forest.  In this version of the fairy tale, Snow White learns to sword fight, and dons pants!  (Much more interesting than cleaning up and keeping house after seven small men, I guess…)  Ishioka dressed Collins in a teal peasant blouse, billowy black bell pants, and a dark corseted vest decorated with gold leaves – another nod to the princess’s connection to nature (pictured, above left).  It’s our favorite costume that Collins wears in the film, while the stunning wedding creation Julia Roberts dons is clearly the other winner (pictured, below).  According to the Daily News, the queen “wore gowns with high collars and sharp shoulders to evoke the feeling of power and danger.”  If you look closely, the bodice has intricate detailing that spreads into crawling vines over the skirt, just like poison ivy, indicating what a sneaky creep the queen is.  The wedding gown weighed 60 pounds, measured eight feet in diameter, and needed seven people to move it!  Fun Fact: Between the wedding dress, the peacock gown, and the peach and gold embroidered frock, Julia Roberts wore over 100,000 Swarovski crystals between the three costumes, and all three dresses were handmade!  Snow White’s wedding gown is definitely different than her evil stepmother’s (pictured, bottom).  She wears a bright blue gown with orange sleeves and a bow, supposedly a tribute to Disney’s classic cartoon version of Snow White.  (Originally, the dress was red and blue, but it apparently looked too similar…)  Ishioka wanted Snow White to look like a gift to the prince and the audience, wrapped up with a bow.  Eiko Ishioka never saw the final film, but the real gift was her uncanny ability to tell a story through costume.  Her work was truly the “fairest of them all.”

One thought on “The Mirror Mirror Has Two Faces

  1. What a shame to lose such a genius of design! Her details in every costume are unbelievable! Just incredible!

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