The Matrix Costume Patterns

The Matrix costume, 2017 D0801 envelope - Simplicity, "The Leaders in Cosplay Sewing"
Simplicity D0801 (2017) Matrix costumes. Image: Etsy.

Ready for a cybergoth revival? The Matrix is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and Variety has just announced that there will be a Matrix 4, to be directed by Lana Wachowski and again starring Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss.

The costumes in the first Matrix were hugely influential. Working within a tight budget, costume designer Kym Barrett (Romeo + Juliet, Us) placed the emphasis on texture and movement, using low-cost materials like PVC and a wool blend for Neo’s coat. The rebels were also outfitted in custom accessories, with boots by Barrett and bespoke eyewear by Richard Walker.

On March 31st the fight for the future begins. Poster for The Matrix (1999) Image: IMDb

The first Matrix film even inspired John Galliano’s Fall 1999 couture collection for Dior. Presented at Versailles, the collection mixed futuristic raver-couture with more fanciful references like “Gainsborough in Persia.” (“The dresses are evil, evil,” Galliano was quoted saying. “But you have to have the Romantic. They die for that, my ladies.”) As Vogue’s Hamish Bowles wrote, the couture clients warmed more to the 18th-century looks than to “Matrix cybervixen.”

Dior By John Galliano - Couture Collection Fall Winter 1999-2000. Le 19 juillet 1999, dans la cadre de la présentation de la Collection haute couture Automne- Hiver, 1999-2000 de Christian DIOR par John GALLIANO à l'Orangerie du château de Versailles. ici le styliste posant avec un groupe de jeunes mannequins androgynes, dont certains sont des hommes torse nu, portant un maquillage épais et charbonneux de longs cheveux lisses, trois filles portent des bérets. (Photo by Jean-Claude Deutsch/Paris Match via Getty Images)
John Galliano with models backstage at the Dior couture show, the Orangerie at Versailles, July 19, 1999. Photo: Jean-Claude Deutsch. Image: Paris Match via Getty Images.
Dior evening dress in satin and lime green glitter PVC, L'Officiel Sept 1999
Dior haute couture by John Galliano, L’Officiel, September 1999. Photo: Randall Bachner. Editors: Bernât Buscato and Luciano Neves. Image: jalougallery.com.
Molly Sims photographed in Christian Dior haute couture by John Galliano by Ruven Afanador
Dior haute couture by John Galliano on the cover of Vogue Paris, September 1999. Model: Molly Sims. Photo: Ruven Afanador. Image: Molly Sims.

It wasn’t until 2003’s big-budget sequel, The Matrix Reloaded, that Neo got his famous cassock coat.

Keanu Reeves as Neo on the cover of French Premiere, October 2003. Image: Famous Fix.

The first Matrix-inspired costume patterns came out in 2003.

Trinity, Neo, and Morpheus in a promo image for The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
Promotional image for The Matrix Reloaded (2003) Image: Foxtel Movies.

Simplicity’s Neo and Morpheus / “Men’s and Teen’s Duster” must have sold well: the pattern was rereleased with an updated envelope in 2017. (See top of post.) Now backlisted, it’s still available from the company website.

Morpheus and Neo costume pattern (The Matric Reloaded) - Simplicity 5386
Simplicity 5386 (2003) Matrix costumes. Image: Etsy.

Thanks to the sequel’s higher budget, Barrett designed Trinity’s pieces for better-quality PVCs (then newly available), with patent leather used for closeups. For the women’s pattern, Trinity’s PVC bustier-coat ensemble effectively devolves into its separate elements: a princess-seamed duster, corset top, and pants. The pattern calls for stretch vinyl, leather-like fabrics, and synthetic patent leather.

Trinity costume pattern (The Matrix Reloaded) - Simplicity 5380
Simplicity 5380 (2003) Matrix costume. Image: Etsy.

The following year, Butterick and McCall’s released men’s and children’s Neo patterns, but none for Trinity. Both cassock coats share an authentic, if painstaking touch: lots of covered buttons.

Witch + Neo from the Matrix costume pattern - Butterick 4314
Butterick 4314 (2004) Image: eBay.
Adult and children's Neo / Matrix costume - McCalls 4546
McCall’s 4546 (2004) Matrix costume. Image: eBay.

It would be another decade before Andrea Schewe designed a more accurate Trinity duster. Released in Simplicity’s 90th anniversary year, the PVC duster was paired with a Kingdom Hearts cosplay coat.

Kingdom Hearts and Trinity from the Matrix costume pattern - Simplicity 8482 (2017)
Simplicity 8482 (2017) Kingdom Hearts and Matrix costumes. Image: Etsy.

Here’s S8482 with more sci-fi (Firefly and Rogue One) in the seasonal catalogue:

Trinity, Zoe Washburne, Jyn Erso, and Kingdom Hearts costume patterns. Find the Adventure - Simplicity Autumn 2017 catalogue
Find the Adventure – S8482 and S8480 in Simplicity’s Autumn 2017 catalogue. Image: Simplicity.

There’s no word on the costume designer yet, but production on the new Matrix begins in 2020.

Trinity character poster featuring Carrie-Anne Moss - The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
The Matrix Reloaded Trinity character poster (2003) Image: IMDb.

Costumes after Eiko Ishioka

Google doodle celebrating Eiko Ishioka's work in Tarsem Singh's The Fall (2006)
Google doodle celebrating Eiko Ishioka, 2017. Image: Google.

In memory of Eiko Ishioka, who would have been 80 this year, a look at costume patterns based on her work.

Eiko on Stage (Callaway, 2000) Image: abebooks.

Eiko Ishioka (1938-2012) is best known as the costume designer for The Cell and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for which she won an Academy Award in 1993. Her last film project was Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror, starring Julia Roberts and Lily Collins.

Poster for Mirror, Mirror (2012). Image: IMdB.

McCall’s and Simplicity both released patterns based on the film. McCall’s 6629 came in adult and children’s sizes. (Out of print, but details still on the Cosplay by McCall’s site.)

McCall’s 6629 / 240 (2012) Image: Etsy.

On the left—view D with collar E and feathered backpiece F—is Julia Roberts’ wicked queen. Ishioka’s original gown has panniers and miles of cartridge pleating:

The Queen (Julia Roberts) and Brighton (Nathan Lane) in Mirror Mirror (2012). Photo: Jan Thijs ©Snow White Productions, 2011.

The gown features white peacock embroidery and a molded basque with four-piece cups.

Julia Roberts as the Queen in Mirror Mirror. Image ©Snow White Productions, 2011.

View B (top right) is clearly Lily Collins’ Snow White, but so is view A. It’s the dress with floral basque and skirt, seen early in the film, which Ishioka topped with one of the most memorable capes in cinema.

Snow White (Lily Collins) in Mirror Mirror (2012). Image ©Relativity Media, 2011.
Lily Collins in Mirror Mirror (2012). Image ©Relativity Media / Richard Crouse.

Simplicity also offered Snow White’s dress from the film’s Bollywood finale, moving the giant bow down from the shoulders.

Simplicity 1728 (2012)
Simplicity 1728 (2012) Image: eBay.
Snow White (Lily Collins) in Mirror Mirror (2012). Photo: Jan Thijs ©Relativity Media.

The Costume Designers’ Guild gave Ishioka a posthumous award for Mirror Mirror. (For more on the production, see Wired.) And since her on-screen version, all yellow capes seem to point back to Snow White’s.

Caitriona Balfe wears Terry Dresbach's yellow cloak in Outlander, season 2 (2016)
Claire (Caitriona Balfe) in Outlander, season 2 (2016). Image: Starz / Life According to Jamie.
Alberta Ferretti coat, Fall 2017. Images: Moda Operandi.
Jordan Prentice, Joey Gnoffo, Sebastian Saraceno, Lily Collins, Martin Klebba, Mark Povinelli, Ronald Lee Clark, and Danny Woodburn in Mirror Mirror (2012). Photo: Matthew Rolston
Jordan Prentice, Joey Gnoffo, Sebastian Saraceno, Lily Collins, Martin Klebba, Mark Povinelli, Ronald Lee Clark, and Danny Woodburn in Mirror Mirror (2012). Photo: Matthew Rolston ©Relativity Media 2011.