Everything, everywhere, all at once Costume designer Shirley Kurata has deep fashion roots – WWD

Shirley Kurata, who was nominated on Sunday for the Oscar for Best Costume Design in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” was also behind the scenes of one of the most memorable fashion shows of the fall 2023 women’s season: Rodarte’s Gothic fairytale.

She has styled the California label’s shows since the fall of 2006 and never missed a season, even when she was filming the movie and had to run out the door of the fall 2020 show and get on a plane to get back. to be on set.

Working on Rodarte’s runway shows — which are inspired by everything from Japanese slasher movies to vampires to the gritty Santa Cruz, California, boardwalk — was like working on Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s film, a tender family story wrapped in a frenzied multiverse. adventure .

“The shows Kate and Laura [Mulleavy] do are almost like short films. For this season, the mood was very Goth, black dresses, slinky and long, then relaxing in this Victorian world and sprinkling with elements of color and ending with these fairy dresses that their mother did the drawings for, and this amazing silver winged look,” says Kurata. “There’s a story there and it’s very similar to how you would design a movie in what emotions you want to portray in a scene. A show is more direct, but you want to build something, a sense of drama, lightness.”

Kurata is an LA style fixture with a bespectacled image that makes her as recognizable as another legendary movie costume designer. “I’ve always loved Edith Head,” she says.

She has worked on videos with the Linda Lindas, styled a world tour with Billie Eilish, Jenny Lewis and Tierra Whack, and done campaigns for brands Miu Miu, Melissa and Vans, not to mention tons of commercial work for Westfield, Target and more . And she’s a retailer, co-owner of Virgil Normal in East Hollywood, a former motorcycle shop turned clubhouse of up-and-coming labels.

The collaboration between Kurata and Rodarte came about through an introduction from mutual friend, film director/photographer Autumn de Wilde. “The day before the show, we realized we didn’t know how to organize or coordinate everyone’s dressing,” says Laura Mulleavy, explaining that Kurata fizzled out that night. “She’s been one of our best friends ever since.”

Rodarte RTW Fall 2023

Rodarte, autumn 2023

Giovanni Giannini/WWD

Kurata, who won Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Film at the 2023 Costume Designers Guild Awards, will wear Rodarte to the Oscars on Sunday.

“It is very rare with modern costume design to be recognized and this [film] was a testament to how the community has been so supportive of this film,” says Mulleavy.

For Kurata, the movie is a highlight of 20 years in the fashion and entertainment business.

She was brought into the project by one of the producers, Jonathan Wang, with whom she had previously worked on commercials.

“I’m super thankful they took a chance with me,” says Kurata, explaining that The Daniels gave her a Pinterest page of looks they thought were cool but gave her the freedom to have fun. “They said make costumes that people want to dress up in for Halloween,” says Kurata. “And last Halloween I was very relieved!

“The budget for the whole movie was probably the budget for one Marvel costume, so it was very tight,” she says. bear-covered streetwear.

Kurata comes from a Japanese-American family, but grew up in Monterey Park, California, where her parents owned a laundromat, like the Chinese-American immigrant family in the film.

EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE EVERYTHING AT THE SAME TIME, Stephanie Hsu, 2022. ph: Allyson Riggs /© A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

Stephanie Hsu in “Everything Everywhere at Once.”

Courtesy of the Everett Collection

“Growing up, I often went with my mom or dad, so I totally understood the whole story of being the daughter of an immigrant family. Also the generational trauma that Joy went through and the disconnection, even just the language. But I also know that my parents would sacrifice their lives for me. Even if it was never spoken,’ says Kurata. “Sometimes ‘I love you’ comes across as ‘you’re getting fat’. Or with my mom it was ‘why don’t you buy contact lenses?’”

(Kurata’s glasses have become such a personal style signature that they earned her a campaign with LA Eyeworks.)

Shirley Kurata for LA Eyeworks

Shirley Kurata for LA Eyeworks.


When she was researching how to dress laundromat owner Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), she went to her own mother and looked at her fleece vest. “Definitely an Asian mom thing,” says Kurata. “I also went to Chinatown in LA, to Saigon Plaza. I have a lot of things there.”

Meanwhile, daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) looks displeased. “We wanted to show she was rebelling against her mother, and dressing grunge was one way she did that.”

IRS Agent Dierdre (Jamie Lee Curtis) was all mustard-yellow mush — and no stuffing. “She just relaxed her body and let go of everything. It was amazing,” says Kurata.

Joy’s alter ego Jobu Tupaki’s multiverse skipping looks range from a Comme des Garcons-inspired tangle to a head-to-toe designer tartan designed by Claudia Li. “This was pre-COVID[-19], but for me it was Asian. I said let’s have her wear a matching mask and visor and we’ll see this all over plaid look.

With the rise in anti-Asian sentiment, Kurata is humbled by the attention the film has received.

“It’s great that we’ve proven that a movie with Asian protagonists can be successful… There’s this whole thing about immigrants being dangerous or freeloaders, and the majority who are here just want to build a better life for their families and the movie showed that too. And for me, success is not always proven by financial success. Ke [Waymond Wang] to me, his character’s weapon is kindness. To me he is spiritually successful, and on your deathbed do you want to look back at how many mansions and cars you had, or were you a good person? To emphasize that without being in your face is a very important story and message.

She then plans to continue doing a little bit of everything, including running Virgil Normal, where people now come by to talk about the movie, as well as chef pants from LA workwear brand Meals, snapback hats from Free And Easy, and her own brand Ts and hoodies from the store with artwork urging “Let’s Get Nice”.

“We are surviving, I think, in a kind of post-COVID[-19] world,” says Kurata of the company she opened in 2015 with her husband Charlie Staunton. “I think having a sense of community is very important to us, so it’s kind of a labor of love, you know? We don’t make a lot of money, but it’s very satisfying to meet new people and showcase cool designers or artists and have a place for people to hang out.”

After all these years, Kurata is still inspired by LA

“The skate culture, the surf culture, it’s a bit more laid back, and seeing people who aren’t part of the hipster scene…” she says.

It’s its own multiverse.

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