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Collaboration for Authenticity

To ensure historical accuracy, the costume department collaborated with historian Frederik Cryns and actor Hiroyuki Sanada. Cryns provided historical context, while Sanada advocated for cultural specificity. Japanese kimono experts also consulted on dressing techniques.

Symbolism and Status

Every detail of the costumes conveys meaning, particularly status. Lords and ladies wear tabi socks indoors, while lower-ranking characters are barefoot. The material of the tabi also indicates status, with higher-ranking characters wearing cotton or deerskin.

Layering is another indicator of status. The more layers a character wears, the more fabric and expense is involved. Villagers wear one layer, while higher-ranking characters wear several.

Character Evolution

Mariko’s costumes reflect her emotional journey. Initially, her lifeless scenes are depicted with snow-covered outfits. As she embraces her role as translator, her wardrobe incorporates flowers and brighter colors.

Blackthorne’s costumes also evolve. He begins in British clothing but gradually adopts Japanese pieces, symbolizing his immersion in Japanese culture. However, his neutral color palette contrasts with the opulence of others, highlighting his foreign status.

Toranaga’s Power

Toranaga’s costumes reflect his wealth and authority. He has an extensive wardrobe with luxurious fabrics and colors like gold and copper. His frequent costume changes in the first episode emphasize his dominance.

A Legacy of Excellence

Carlos Rosario, the costume designer, considers his work on ‘Shōgun’ his greatest achievement. The intense research, collaboration, and physical endurance involved created a masterpiece of authenticity and symbolism.