Filmmaking duo Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert created the 2022 film. It tells the story about Evelyn Wang, a stern, emotionally impaired laundromat owner. She must manage a broken marriage, a difficult relationship with her daughter, and a struggling company all while she is undergoing a tax audit that can be overwhelming. Evelyn is faced with many problems when the multiverse knocks at her door.
The film presents a multitude of concepts simultaneously, including the dangers and possibilities of uninhibited power, optimism, multiple futures, kung fu, mechanical chef raccoons coming out to your immigrant parent, and a soul sucking universe-destroying, all-seeing-everything bagel -- something that only A24 films could achieve.
Michelle Yeoh, a martial arts legend, and Ke Huy Quan star in "Everything Everywhere at Once". The film has been praised for its ability to handle complex plots while still being sensitive to the story of a mother who realizes that her best may not be enough to protect the things she loves most. It is bold, funny, and tearful, and it takes genuine joy in highlighting the Asian American community at its core.
It's clear that the film would not have had this much gravitas without Shirley Kurata's creative vision. Her amazing costumes are often out of this world. The movie aesthetic is simple, but well-crafted. It includes hibachi uniforms for accountants and time temple acolytes.
Kurata is a well-known stylist and costume designer whose work has been featured in major fashion magazines. Kurata has been a key figure in the fashion industry since the 1990s. She's created the aesthetics for many projects, including music videos and major motion pictures.
CBS News interviewed Kurata about her journey to create the story, the designs she loved and why she is proud to have been a part of it.
This interview contains at most one spoiler for the movie. We have warned you.
CBS News: "Everything Everywhere All At Once," a film that is truly a masterpiece, is CBS News. It's a difficult project to describe, and it would be even more difficult to make. What brought you to the Daniels' attention and when did you first get approached?
Jonathan Wang approached me in April 2019 to interview me. He was a producer who had worked with me on several commercials that I designed. It was not described by him at all. He sent me a Daniels script and said that he wanted to have me costume design it. Jonathan told me it was "my type of crazy" and that I was interested in the project. It was something I knew about Swiss Army Man and their music videos. I knew it would be an unconventional film. This is what I love. It's my kinda crazy, the good kinda crazy. He set up a meeting to meet with Daniels, and they sealed the deal.
How can you transition from screen to screen using design work? How much preparation is required to make such a transition?
The discussion with directors is always the first step. I was given a list by the Daniels of films that would be worth my attention. They suggested movies that featured great martial arts sequences and those that captured their vision in spirit. I was also given some images of the costumes to refer to. Also, I had to create a budget and determine how much I could afford each costume. This would affect the way I would make it.
In preparation for this, I watched a lot more films -- Stephen Chow films, Michelle Yeoh films such as "Wing Chun" and "Hidden Dragon," "Wing Chun," and "Hidden Dragon", Wong Kar Wai films, and some of their recommendations like "Paprika" and "Holy Motors."
What were your other influences when designing the costumes?
Tierra Whack was my musical collaborator at the time. Tierra Whack's style is very unconventional so I was familiar with avant-garde designers and fashion school alumni who were doing interesting work. Jobu was able to tap into this world by creating her looks. Eiko Ishioka is a costume designer who designed Coppola's "Dracula." I have a book with her costumes that influenced Jobu’s bagel universe look. Some of her looks were inspired by Japanese Harajuku fashion magazines and blogs. For Evelyn, Waymond, I looked at different blogs such as Chinatown Pretty to see their tax universe designs and Beijing Silvermine to view flashback scenes. The movie star universe was influenced by "In the Mood for Love", Michelle and Ke's personal styles.
Were cast members involved with some of the costumes?
Jamie Lee Curtis sent me a picture of her dressed up for "Daddy and Them." Her inspiration was Dierdre. I also found references to tax auditors. The other cast was more open to my vision because there were so many changes. However, we did collaborate during fittings on the best and ideal looks.
The costumes in "Everything Everywhere All at Once", almost look like their characters, giving the audience clues about which universe they are in. This is especially true when Evelyn's child Joy is revealed to be the movie's antagonist: Jobu. How did you create the look for each universe. What message were you trying convey to your audience?
Because there would be lots of jump cuts and quick editing, it was imperative to make each costume look unique. I differentiated them by color and/or shape. The color scheme for the hotdog universe was to include hot dog colors, such as pinks, beige, and tans. I took over the sweater vest Dierdre wore, but in a beige instead of the yellow she wears in tax universe. This color palette was also very different from Evelyn and Dierdre’s in the tax universe.
I wanted to use Asian stereotypes in Jobu's play, such as the use of masks or visors, K-pop stars, anime stars, golfers, and put my own spin. Because Evelyn was interested in subversive elements, I wanted to add them to her costumes. It felt like Jobu would wear outfits that Evelyn would disapprove or confuse, so I decided to make it clear in her costumes.
Here's a quick flashback of Joy as a teen. I thought that dressing Joy emo in black ripped jeans and a studded belt with a black hoodie would show her rebellious side. Jobu can create any look she wants, so her looks are even more subversive. I wanted Joy and Jobu to have a common thread, so I used plaid to connect them.