EIKO ISHIOKA said: “The world is my studio and everything on earth is my motif. In order to help communicate my message, I have looked for talented people in various fields. I have worked with these people to broadcast our messages throughout the media. Television, stage, posters, newspapers, and books have been my canvas, and my collaborators have been most precious paint.”
For me Eiko Ishioka is the most incredible and visionary creative artist ever known. She was a Japanese art director, scenographer, costume and graphic designer famous for her work in stage theatre, movie production, music video, advertising and print media.
She worked on the most important creative production of the world, from Dracula Bram Stoker by Francis Ford Coppola to Cirque du Soleil (Oscar Academy Award winner for best costume design), from director Tarsem Singht (the Cell, The fall, Mirror Mirror, Immortals) to Opening Ceremony Olympics Games in Beijing etc…
She has been a genious, Ishioka’s work spanned genres and continents and forged a visual bridge between the East and the West. Her work was so provocative in every possible sense of the word, and it was meant to be.
She also directed Björk’s controversial 2002 video for the song “COCOON,” in which the singer appears to be nude; designed the performers’ costumes for the spectacular opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics Games in 2008; and dreamed up the futuristic outfits for Grace Jones’s 2009 tour.
From childhood, Eiko was encouraged to pursue a career in design. Her father was a commercial graphic designer, and her mother, a traditional Tokyo housewife who wanted a more exciting life for her daughter. After studying design at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Eiko began working in the advertising division of Shiseido in 1961 at age 22; four years later she was the first woman to win Japan’s most prestigious advertising award. “One man, a very talented designer, said that my name would not be famous if I were not a woman,” Eiko said in 2000. “It made me angry.”
Over the years, Ishioka developed and established herself as Japan’s foremost art director. Her work helped Japan transform itself from a traditional culture into a modern consumer society which became a powerful player on the global economic and cultural stage. But she did it without selling her soul.
She won a 1986 Grammy Award for her cover design of Miles Davis’ album TUTU and in the 1985 Cannes Film Festival Award for Artistic Contribution for her work on Paul Schrader film MISHIMA as well as numerous Japanese awards.
She is my biggest inspiration, I’m trying as she did to collaborate in various fields of my job and to have opportunity to work from opera house to commercial spot, from movie production to great event show, from graphic animation to fashion show.
I think it’s the best way to keep an open mind and to give a view always curious and innovative into the work.
For example in the wonderful movie THE FALL (unknown for many) she created vast landscapes, Taj Mahal-inspired architecture, elaborate interiors, gigantic blood-stained linens, and images of birds flying out of people’s mouths. However, in this fantasy world — directed by Tarsem but imagined by a young Romanian girl (played by Catinca Untaru) — it’s the costumes that make the characters come to life. o Eiko Ishioka created matching black-and-gold uniforms for the masked bandit and his trusty sidekick (above); a red, black, and white-striped fur coat for the character of Darwin, a iron pyrite-beaded headdress topped with brassy horns for the former slave, and a lotus-patterned crimson dress for the kidnapped princess (her face hidden beneath an opaque, chiffon mask inspired by Japanese folding fans).
Ishioka’s work is pervaded with a deeply stylized sensual surrealism. It takes you into an unknown world so thoroughly different from what you’re used to that you don’t know what to expect. She drops you in new territory, and leaves you there to figure it out for yourself.
For Bram Stoker’s Dracula for example, she designed costumes that blurred the line between human and beast. “Dracula has a very cliche style built [during a] long long film history,” she explained during an interview. “Francis [Coppola] and I wanted to completely throw away this cliche look to create our own vision, which does not look like a man, a woman, or old, or young, beast or human. What is this one?
Ishioka’s work was not rational. It didn’t have a political or philosophical message. It was emotional. It overwhelmed the senses. On the site of Cirque du Soleil Ishioka is quoted as saying, “One of my objectives at Cirque du Soleil is to design costumes that will accentuate and even reinforce the visual and emotional impact of the risks taken by the artists, while ensuring their complete safety.”
In a few words for me She is the best and undisputed creative of all time.