Memoirs Of A Geisha

In 1997, novelist Arthur Golden offered readers an intoxicating and riveting story of a hidden world in his acclaimed novel, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA. The sweeping romantic epic spent two years on The New York Times best-seller list, sold more than four million copies in English, and has been translated into 32 languages.
In 2005, Oscar®-nominated director Rob Marshall and producers Lucy Fisher & Douglas Wick and Steven Spielberg, along with an acclaimed international cast and an award-winning behind-the-camera team brought this mesmerizing fable to the screen, earning three Academy Awards® for Best Cinematography, Costume Design and Art Direction. Read on from the film's production notes for a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how these visually stunning elements of the film were brought to life.
COSTUMES
EIGHT YARDS OF FABRIC
The exquisite costumes of MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, most notably the rich tapestries of the kimonos, were created by costume designer Colleen Atwood, who shared her insight on the key garment of the geishas -- the kimonos: “The 1930s were a high point of the geisha world, so the principal characters had a lot of kimonos. It is a fairly simple garment -- just eight yards of fabric -- but what creates value are all the layers of technique involved. A really high-end kimono would have hand painting and shibori, a very specific dyeing technique, as well as hand-embroidery and a hand-woven, hand-designed obi. In Japan, it takes about a year to make one.”
Atwood’s department made more than 250 hand-finished costumes with a key crew of about 30 people at her Culver City workshop, often finishing a kimono in one to two weeks. Kimonos were made for characters of every socio-economic level and for every season. The women’s department even made geisha underwear and their white cotton tabi socks, which fasten on the side and separate the big toe. The screening techniques of an on-site crew of textile artists allowed Atwood to replicate and embellish designs from antique fabrics on new material.

A beautifully detailed sketch of a kimono worn by Sayuri.

The sketch comes to life -- the front and back of a stunning kimono worn by Sayuri.