Mar 10

Academy Award for Best Costume Design: Everything Everywhere All At Once

by Team Whering

The Academy Award - or Oscar - for Best Costume Design is a category which recognises immense creativity in the costume department and their ability to dress each and every character in a given film. In previous years, films such as Little Women, The Great Gatsby, Phantom Thread, and Anna Karenina have been awarded the coveted gold statue for their achievements in the category. Notice any similarities? All of these films (with few exceptions in recent decades) are historical films, with the other genres often nominated being fantasy and science fiction. This year is no exception, with Babylon being set in the 1920s, Elvis taking us on a journey between the 1930s through to the 1990s, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris in the 1950s, while Everything Everywhere All At Once and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever are the contemporary science fiction nominees.

With that being said, and the Academy not finding anything set in the present-day impressive enough from a fashion and costume perspective, I thought it would be interesting to do a deep dive and get to know why the nominated films stood out this year over the others.

To jump to the other nominees, see below:

Everything Everywhere All At Once

Let’s traverse into the multiverse, shall we?

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Everything Everywhere All at Once essentially follows Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) as she jumps through the alternate realities she could have lived in had she not made the choices she made. Every variation sees the people in her life (her husband, her daughter, her IRS agent) in different form, challenging costume designer, Shirley Kurata to create unique and appropriately wacky looks for each version of the characters to match the universe they’re in.

In the film’s main reality — mainly the SoCal laundromat and the IRS office — Evelyn is what she initially considers to be the most disappointing version of herself. Stuck in the mundanity of caring for her elderly father, the push-and-pull of her relationship with her daughter, a wife to her husband who she considers meek, and, you know, dealing with her taxes. Kurata faced this universe (and all of them) by asking herself “where would Evelyn shop?” The answer? Chinatown. This is exactly where she sourced the floral button-down, cropped trousers, and quilted vest, while also looking to her own laundromat-owning parents for inspiration.

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Kurata even shared some of her funny (in retrospect) initial concerns with Michelle Yeoh coming in from just starring in Crazy Rich Asians. Kurata was worried Yeoh would find the inexpensive Chinatown finds underwhelming and drab, being used to the expensive costumes from her prior movie, but of course, that wasn’t the case.

And let’s not forget about Stephanie Hsu’s character, or rather, characters, Joy Wang (Evelyn’s daughter) and Jobu Tupaki (alpha-Evelyn’s omnicidal daughter) whose cacophony of costumes kind of begin to “turn the Asian stereotype on its head.” Kurata shares how she “draped and pieced together” an infusion of sartorial influences, pulled from her encyclopedic fashion knowledge. Writer-directors Daniel & Daniel pushed Kurata and encouraged her to really “have fun” with Joby’s audacious, expressive, and wacky costumes.

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In fact, Kurata entirely freestyled the creation of the celestial costume from within the ‘Bagel Universe’ tying it into historical royalty, but in a sci-fi way.

To jump to the other nominees, see below:

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