In the final showdown in A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once, Jobu Tupaki’s (Stephanie Hsu) chaotic ensemble — like the omnipotent and omniscient antagonist herself — contains multitudes, starting with her alter-ego Joy’s overwhelming emotions. Costume designer and stylist Shirley Kurata assembled remnants of Jobu’s outrageous multiverse-jumping personas, each of which terrorizes her distracted mother, laundromat owner Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh). The first-time Oscar nominee also says she “draped and pieced together” an infusion of sartorial influences, pulled from her encyclopedic fashion knowledge. As Jobu violently resists Evelyn’s outreach, Comme des Garçons-inspired volume and billowing swatches of Vivienne Westwood-referential tartans come alive.
“[Fashion is] just ingrained in me. It’s part of my DNA,” says Kurata. She began her career styling shoots for fashion photographer Autumn de Wilde, who later directed 2020’s Emma. An alum of the avant-garde Studio Berçot in Paris, Kurata has been concocting storytelling runways and star-studded campaigns for fashion/costume designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s Rodarte since 2006.
Writer-directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (aka Daniels) encouraged Kurata “to have fun” with Jobu’s audaciously expressive costumes. Kurata looked to her experience and designer relationships styling such cutting-edge musical artists as rapper Tierra Whack. “She tends to wear pretty unconventional designs,” explains Kurata, who then called design label BCalla and selected an explosion of plush spikes and acid-green feathers for Jobu to wear while ambushing a multiverse version of Joy’s dad, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan).
Kurata freestyled her way in building the celestial white finery in the Bagel Universe, where Jobu reveals her nihilistic plan. “I wanted a little tie-in to historical royalty, but in a sci-fi way,” says Kurata of Jobu’s spectacular crystal-fringed pearl collar plate, topped with a futuristic Elizabethan flourish. Uplifting independent and API designers, she enlisted Chinese New Zealander Claudia Li for the pleated skirt (plus the tartan outfit for Jobu’s grand entrance).
In a more subtle style moment, Evelyn dons a red collared cardigan, with festive gold flowers up the sleeves, for the laundromat’s climactic Lunar New Year party. Kurata — who remembers shopping at Chinese stores with her laundromat-owning mother while growing up in the Asian American hub of Monterey Park — bought the sweater in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. Illustrating the fearless nature of a small-business-owning Chinese American immigrant, the knit also makes a statement with the word “punk,” in a comic font, emblazoned in surprise locations. After Alpha Waymond brings Evelyn — and the audience — to tears with his multiversal plea for kindness, she turns to give her emotionally estranged husband a heartfelt embrace. The oversize declaration on her back comes into full view: a sartorial “pow!”
“You could see the influences of fashion from the West,” says Kurata, also incorporating the Asian immigrant elder penchant for imbuing whimsy with practicality. “I love that mixing.” The sweater, which could double as a subversive streetwear piece, launched Reddit threads by impassioned fans.
This story first appeared in a Feb. stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.