‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ Costume Designer Shirley Kurata Has Deep Fashion Roots
Shirley Kurata, who is nominated for the Oscar on Sunday for Best Costume Design on “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” was also behind the scenes of one of the most memorable fashion runway shows of the women’s fall 2023 season: Rodarte’s Gothic fairytale.
She’s styled the California label’s shows since fall 2006, and never missed a season, even when she was filming the movie and had to rush out the door from the fall 2020 show and hop on a plane to be back on set.
Working on Rodarte’s runway shows — which take inspiration from everything from Japanese slasher films to vampires to the gritty Santa Cruz, California, boardwalk — was not unlike working on Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s film, a tender family story wrapped up in a bonkers 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, and then easing into this Victorian world and sprinkling in elements of color and ending with these fairy gowns that their mother did the drawings for, and this amazing silver winged look,” says Kurata. “There is a story there and it’s very similar to how you’d design a movie in what emotions you want to represent in a scene. A show is more immediate, but you want to build something, a feeling of drama, etherealness.”
Kurata is an L.A. style fixture with a bespectacled image that makes her as recognizable as another legendary film costume designer. “I did always love Edith Head,” she says.
She has worked on videos with the Linda Lindas, a world tour with Billie Eilish, styled 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 that stocks up-and-coming labels.
The collaboration between Kurata and Rodarte came 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 getting everyone dressed,” says Laura Mulleavy, explaining that Kurata flew out that night. “She’s been one of our best friends ever since.”
Kurata, who won the award for best sci-fi/fantasy film at the 2023 Costume Designers Guild Awards, will be wearing Rodarte to the Oscars on Sunday.
“It’s very rare with modern costume design to be recognized and the fact this [film] was shows how the community has been so behind this film,” says Mulleavy.
For Kurata, the movie is a culmination of 20 years in the fashion and entertainment business.
She was brought onto the project by one of its producers, Jonathan Wang, whom she’d worked with before on commercials.
“I am super grateful 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 people will want to dress up in for Halloween,” says Kurata. “And this past Halloween, I was very relieved!
“The budget for the entire film was probably the budget for one Marvel costume, so it was very tight,” she says, noting she took inspiration for Jobu Tupaki/Joy Wang’s multiverse-jumping personas from everything from Comme des Garçons to Jeremy Scott’s teddy bear-covered streetwear.
Kurata is 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.
“Growing up, I’d often tag along with my mom or dad, so that whole story of being the daughter of an immigrant family, I totally understood that. Also the generational trauma Joy was going through and the disconnect, even just the language. But I also know my parents would sacrifice their life for me. Even though it was never spoken,” says Kurata. “Sometimes ‘I love you’ comes out as ‘you’re getting fat.’ Or with my mom, it was ‘why don’t you get some contact lenses?’”
(Kurata’s eyeglasses have become such a personal style trademark, they landed her a campaign with L.A. Eyeworks.)
When she was researching how to dress laundromat owner Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), she went to her own mom and looked at her fleece vest. “Definitely an Asian mom thing,” says Kurata. “I also went to Chinatown in L.A., to Saigon Plaza. I got lots of things there.”
Meanwhile, daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) has a disaffected look. “We wanted to show she was rebelling against her mother, and dressing grunge was a way she was doing it.”
IRS agent Dierdre (Jamie Lee Curtis) was all mustard-yellow schlump — and no padding. “She would just relax her body and let it all out, it was great,” says Kurata.
Joy’s alter ego Jobu Tupaki’s multiverse skipping looks range from a Comme des Garcons-inspired jumble to designer head-to-toe 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 will see this all plaid look.”
With the rise in anti-Asian sentiment, Kurata is humbled by the attention the film has gotten.
“It’s great we proved a movie with Asian leads could be successful…There’s this whole thing about immigrants are dangerous or freeloaders, and the majority who are here just want to make a better life for their family and the movie did show that. And for me, success isn’t always proven by financial success. Ke [Waymond Wang] to me, his character’s weapon is kindness. To me, he’s spiritually successful, and on your deathbed, do you want to look back on how many mansions and cars you had, or were you a good person? To highlight that without being in your face is a really important story and message.”
Next up, she wants to keep doing a little bit of everything, including running Virgil Normal, where now people stop in to talk about the film as well as shop chef pants by L.A. workwear brand Meals, snap back hats by Free And Easy, and the shop’s own brand of Ts and hoodies with artwork urging “Let’s Get Nice.”
“We’re surviving, I guess, in the sort of post-COVID[-19] world,” Kurata says of the business she opened in 2015 with her husband Charlie Staunton. “I think that having a sense of community is really important to us, so it’s kind of a labor of love, you know? We’re not making a lot of money but it’s very fulfilling to be able 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 L.A.
“The skate culture, the surf culture, it’s a little more laid-back, and seeing people who aren’t part of the hipster scene…” she says.
It’s its own multiverse.
Moschino at Juncture as Jeremy Scott Exits Brand
MILAN — Jeremy Scott is leaving his role as creative director of Moschino, leading to questions about the future of both the designer and the Italian brand, which he helped to reinvigorate over the past 10 years.
“I am fortunate to have had the opportunity of working with the creative force that is Jeremy Scott,” said Massimo Ferretti, executive chairman of Moschino’s parent company Aeffe. “I would like to thank him for his 10 years of commitment to Franco Moschino’s legacy house and for ushering in a distinct and joyful vision that will forever be a part of Moschino history.”
RELATED: All the Looks From Jeremy Scott’s First Collection at Moschino
Scott described his tenure at Moschino as “a wonderful celebration of creativity and imagination.”
He added that he was “so proud of the legacy I am leaving behind” and thanked Ferretti “for the honor of leading this iconic house” and his fans around the world.
To be sure, succeeding longtime creative director Rossella Jardini, who carried forward Franco Moschino’s torch, Scott was successful in grasping the tongue-in-cheek humor and ironic spirit of the founder and brought the brand to the attention of a number of international artists and celebrities, from Katy Perry to Gwen Stefani.
Ferretti was not available for additional comment on Monday, but market sources said the parting was amicable, taking place at the natural end of Scott’s contract. Sources said Ferretti is still talking to candidates to become creative director and that a successor to Scott has not been identified yet.
On his Instagram feed, Scott on Monday hinted at future plans, but kept the cards close to his chest. After noting that he “had a blast creating designs that will live on forever” at Moschino, he wrote that he was “filled with excitement and anticipation and can’t wait to share with you all what I have in store for you next!” One possibility is a reboot of his own namesake designer brand, which was put on hold in 2019.
The market reacted to Scott’s exit with surprising approval, sending shares of Moschino’s parent Aeffe up 3.05 percent to close at 1.15 euros on the Italian Stock Exchange.
Industry observers wondered if the change would contribute to substantially shifting the needle at Moschino.
Alessandro Maria Ferreri, owner and chief executive officer of The Style Gate consulting firm, expressed his admiration and respect for Ferretti and his savvy decisions over the years. “Several major brands, from Gucci and Prada to Bottega Veneta, are changing skin and Ferretti may be asking himself whether the brand is still in sync with its consumers,” said Ferreri.
“This is a consumer-centric world and it is only normal for brands to keep questioning themselves. There is a return to minimalism and relaxed tailoring; maybe even the Moschino customers want something different. The change in creative direction shouldn’t be felt as traumatic but as a necessary moment to take stock of the situation,” continued Ferreri.
Asked about a possible successor at Moschino, Ferreri said he would envision someone who “would make the brand less playful and more chic, more subtle, maybe someone who had couture skills.”
He saw similarities between Moschino and Schiaparelli, as both brands offer “disruptive clothes with unexpected elements and objects that become part of the garments.” However, Schiaparelli, designed now by Daniel Roseberry, caters “to those consumers that are looking for that same eccentricity offered by Moschino but want something dressier and less beach club,” he said.
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“Given Jeremy’s tenure and the transition toward a more formal and elegant aesthetic, this turnover does not surprise me,” said Luca Solca, senior research analyst for luxury goods at Bernstein.
An executive talent recruiter who asked to remain anonymous said there was “hope in a real change at the brand, not necessarily into minimalism,” but saw “the need for a twist to return to the fun and original creativity of Franco Moschino.”
Incidentally, Scott’s most recent collection, paraded last month in Milan for the fall 2023 season, hinged on vaguely ’80s Ladies Who Lunch suits and prim coats with some serious warping going on. Hemlines, buttons, contrast trims, floral and houndstooth prints appeared to be melting and dripping like Salvador Dalí’s clocks.
Surely the discrepancy between the clothes on the runway and those worn by several of the guests attending that show, from Yuwei Zhangzou and Molly Chiang to Quynh Anh Shyn and Chau Bui, was notable as they wore pieces from the spring 2023 season, filled with wacky inflatables and life preservers under peplum jackets, for example.
For sure, Scott was excited about taking on the creative director’s role at Moschino in October 2013, telling WWD at the time that he felt “like a child at Christmas with new toys, I can’t play with just one.”
RELATED: All the Looks From Jeremy Scott’s First Collection at Moschino
He leveraged the label’s bounty of references and iconography, and infused it with his own quirky sense of style. He has over the years paraded coats and dresses embellished with gold chains and lettering, and bags shaped like mini-Moschino jackets, or pumps with heavily sculpted heels or forks as details on the vamps.
While continuing to work from Los Angeles, where he is based, Scott said back then that he felt “a natural, instinctual connection with the vocabulary of the brand.”
Ferretti believed in 2013 that a change in designer was needed, aiming at a younger and more transversal customer.
A graduate of the Pratt Institute, the Missouri-born Scott introduced his own signature brand in Paris in 1997. Prior to Moschino, he worked with Christian Louboutin and Stephen Jones on accessories for his runway show, and in 1996 and 1997, he won the Venus de la Mode Award for Best New Designer. In 1999, he was nominated for Best Young Designer by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. He has also worked with brands including Linda Farrow, Longchamp, Swatch and Smart, and is known for his eccentric Adidas Originals creations, incorporating teddy bears, cow prints and even leopard tails into his sneaker line.
Scott, who speaks Japanese, French, Spanish and German, has a strong connection with pop culture, drawing the likes of Rihanna, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Kanye West and Gwen Stefani to his designs.
During his tenure at Moschino he teamed with H&M in 2018 and for his men’s and women’s Moschino resort 2022 collection, directed Karen Elson in his first musical. Filmed on the Universal Studios backlot in Los Angeles, “Lightning Strikes” featured the model-turned-songstress as a waitress in a jukebox diner, backed by a “High School Musical”-style singing and dancing cast, all clad in Moschino team colors.
Signaling the importance of the brand in the U.S., Moschino showed its women’s spring 2022 collection in September 2021 during New York Fashion Week and participated in The Met Gala, which was delayed to September that year due to the pandemic. Scott also joined Amazon’s fashion designer show “Making the Cut” as a judge, bringing additional attention to the brand.
For sure Ferretti will be keeping a close eye on Moschino and carefully selecting a successor as the brand is key to the growth of Aeffe, which also comprises the Alberta Ferretti, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini and Pollini brands.
In 2022 Aeffe revenues amounted to 352 million euros, up 8.4 percent compared to 325 million euros in 2021. While the group does not break down sales by brand, sources say Moschino represents 70 percent of the total.
Moschino was founded by Franco Moschino in 1983 and Aeffe has held the license for the production and distribution of the brand’s women’s and men’s collections since then.
Following the designer’s death in 1994, Aeffe acquired a 70 percent stake in the company, further developing the brand globally. Rossella Jardini succeeded her mentor, Franco Moschino, designing the collections for two decades until Scott’s arrival. Aeffe took full control of Moschino in 2021, paying 66.6 million euros for the 30 percent stake in the brand it didn’t own. It also acquired the license to produce and distribute the Love Moschino collections of women’s apparel in-house for 3.6 million euros.
“Moschino is strategic for us and this is an important step in our medium-long term growth strategy,” Ferretti told WWD at the time. “Having full control over the Moschino brand, we are now in the best conditions to manage all activities related to the brand’s value chain, from product to quality and with positive effects on image, distribution and communication. This is fundamental.”
In 2021, Aeffe also took control of Moschino’s distribution in mainland China, signaling the increasing relevance of that market for the label. This involved around 20 stores, which has been operated for the previous 10 years by Scienward Fashion and Luxury (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.
Alivia Celebrates World Down Syndrome Day With GiGi’s Playhouse NYC
Instead of a one-and-done approach to fostering inclusivity, as some brands have been known to do, the contemporary sportswear company Alivia relies on creatives with disabilities for artistic inspiration on an ongoing basis.
For its latest initiative, the New York-based company has partnered with the nonprofit GiGi’s Playhouse NYC for its spring collection. The organization strives for acceptance for all and offers programming for families with children with Down syndrome. In honor of World Down Syndrome Day on Tuesday, Alivia is debuting printed and embroidered designs that were inspired by the artwork of 27-year-old Stephanie Portoviejo, who has honed her skills through GiGi Playhouse.
By raising awareness about Down’s syndrome, Alivia founder Jovana Mullins aims to create greater acceptance. Approximately one in every 772 babies in the U.S. is born with Down syndrome, making it the most common chromosomal condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 5,100 babies are born with Down syndrome in the U.S. annually. A condition, not a disease, Down syndrome is named for the English physician John Langdon Down, who characterized the condition in 1866.
Recent advancements in clinical treatment, namely corrective heart surgeries, is helping to extend the lives of adults with Down syndrome. With as many as 80 percent reaching the age of 60, the need for greater acceptance and professional opportunities continues to exist.
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Introduced in 2006 and observed by the United Nations since 2013, World Down Syndrome Day is held annually on March 21. The date was chosen to signify the uniqueness of the triplication of the 21st chromosome, which leads to Down syndrome. This year’s theme is “With Us Not For Us.”
That message of inclusivity is one that Mullins is on board with. While volunteering for an art therapy program for people with disabilities six years ago, Mullins said she recognized how art therapy empowered people and gave them a greater sense of purpose. She has worked as a designer specializing in prints at such firms as Matthew Williamson, Alice + Olivia, Coach, Sam Edelman and other contemporary sportswear brands. In 2020, she launched Alivia based on the practice of partnering with a different nonprofit and designer with disabilities each season. The alliance with GiGi’s Playhouse marks the first time that the company is working with artists who have Down syndrome.
“I always felt that fashion was so much more than the glamour and the materialistic side. Fashion has such a power to enable confidence and it is a form of expression,” she said.
Although more companies increasingly focused on inclusivity and diversity, Mullins said, “There is still a huge lack of representation especially within fashion of people with disabilities.”
For the rest of this year, Alivia plans to work with five more artists with Down syndrome who are affiliated with GiGi’s Playhouse. As is the case with Portoviejo’s designs, and any future products incorporating her work, Alivia plans to donate 10 percent of all product sales that use the talents of artists from GiGi’s Playhouse to the organization. Each of their designs feature a scannable tag that highlights the person behind the design and the impact that the purchase makes. Each garment has a hangtag with an image of the artwork that was used as a starting point. Just as a contracted print designer would be reimbursed, each artist is paid upfront.
Having expanded beyond direct-to-consumer to wholesale in 2021 with small boutiques, Alivia has built upon that and will be offered in about 50 specialty stores nationwide including Neiman Marcus this year. Given that, the brand’s six-digit annual sales are expected to increase substantially, according to Mullins.
Shaking the stereotypes that some mistakenly label people with Down syndrome is one objective of the spring initiative. “I see them as I would see anyone else. A lot of times people may [mistakenly] assume that if you look different or talk different, that means you’re not as smart or capable. But just like any neuro-typical person, people with Down syndrome have so many capabilities, incredible skills and creativity,” Mullins said.
Her hope is that more people will look at people with Down syndrome as they would anyone else. “If you have ever met anyone with Down syndrome, you know how much joy and love they have. They are so unique and full of life. We have so much to learn from them,” said Mullins, who raved about the models at the recent runway show hosted by GiGi’s Playhouse before an audience of a couple hundred people.
Last year, the Puerto Rican-born Sofia Jirau became the first model with Down syndrome to front a Victoria’s Secret campaign for its Love Cloud Collection. Another model with Down syndrome Madeline Stuart has also helped to break barriers by modeling in runway shows in New York, Paris and other countries.
Another fashion-related program that is designed to raise awareness about World Down Syndrome Day is the “Lots of Socks” campaign. The idea is for people to wear colorful, attention-getting or mismatched socks to prompt conversations about why they are being worn. That is meant to be a springboard into a discussion about Down syndrome.
Prada Group Debuts Forestami Academy
GREEN CULTURE: The Prada Group’s commitment to building a sustainable future are trickling down to socially charged projects as the company strengthens its ties with the Milan-based tree plantation initiative Forestami to debut the “Forestami Academy.”
Last year, the luxury group had revealed a partnership with the program spearheaded by Milan’s municipality, the Lombardy region, and other territorial entities to plant 3 million trees in the city by 2030 and help safeguard its natural environment.
Now Prada is adding an educational component to the project, pledging the organization of workshops, panels and outdoor activities over three years geared at educating citizens on urban forestation.
“Urban reforestation is at the center of international debate and is particularly relevant for Milan, a city that wants and has to offer more and more greenery. In addition to supporting the Forestami project as a whole, the Prada Group has decided to launch the Forestami Academy, a series of workshops dedicated to all citizens offering educational opportunities on these topics,” said Lorenzo Bertelli, Prada Group’s head of corporate social responsibility and an advocate of the project.
“As a group, we have always valued education and promoting culture and we are sure that the deep knowledge of the Italian and international speakers will be a great source of inspiration for attending audiences,” he said.
Lectures and workshops in the first year will focus on “Knowing Forests and Where They Grow,” held by British Columbia University professor Cecil Konijnendijk, FAO member and professor Simone Borelli and representatives from the Netherlands-based Delft University of Technology. The outdoor portion of the program is to be spearheaded by Giorgio Vacchiano, associate professor of the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Milan’s Università Statale.
Interested citizens can apply starting Tuesday and until April 21 on a dedicated website.
In 2024, the courses will center on “Urban Forestry: Well-being and Health,” while in 2025 they will focus on the subject “Plants and Their Presence in Cities.”
Forestami Academy is not the first educational program jumpstarted by the Prada Group.
Last year, it wrapped the second edition of its Sea Beyond project, a partnership between the group and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission composed of three main initiatives: an educational module for students all over the world, the launch of the Kindergarten of the Lagoon — a program of outdoor lessons for children in preschool — and an educational path specifically designed for the more than 13,000 employees of the company.
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