Decomposing Stephanie Hsu’s Chaotic States Across the Metaverse in “Everything Everywhere, All At Once”

Quickly synthesizes the mythology behind Jobu Tupaki (Stephanie Hsu), the all-powerful, multiverse-hopping architect behind the nihilistic Everything Bagel in Everything everywhere at once, could be a difficult task. But the antagonist, who conjures up one daring outfit after another — under his powerful rule against his laundromat owner mother, Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) — exemplifies a pretty universal behavior. (Pardon the joke.)

COURTESY OF SHIRLEY KURATA

“It’s a call for attention because she didn’t get it from her mother in the ‘real’ world,” says Shirley Kurata, costume designer for the sci-fi thriller, family comedy-drama. Revealing herself to Evelyn as an alternate version of her daughter, Joy, Jobu wears a jaw-dropping dazzling white jumpsuit as she slowly walks towards her shocked mother amid an uncontrolled shower of confetti. “The Elvis look is to provoke his mother and be more rebellious,” says Kurata, who modified a high-end Elvis Presley impersonator costume to fit little Hsu.

Thanks to Jobu’s regular deployment of outrageously outfitted characters, Kurata has also subverted and reclaimed Asia-centric tropes. Aided by conversations with writer-directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Kurata channeled “the stereotype of the ‘perfect Asian’ who is ‘good at sports'” through the ‘wholesome’ pink argyle vest and socks wearing Golfer Jobu. Goth Jobu, in black and a vinyl A-line miniskirt over a sheer tulle petticoat, revisits the elegant Gothic Lolita inspired by the Victorian anime cosplay doll.

ALLYSON RIGGS/A24

“It was a very beautiful embodiment of angst and darkness,” says Kurata, who is also an accomplished editorial writer and fashion designer. She pulled Goth Jobu’s knee-high socks, studded belt and sculptural ruffled Commes des Garçons top from her own haute couture archives, humbly referred to as her “kit”. For trope-flipping K-Pop star Jobu, Kurata lent his own neon floral Jeremy Scott cardigan with plush sleeves, while drawing inspiration from the popular musical genre, as well as the individualistic street style of Harajuku featured in photographer Shoichi Aoki. Fruits magazine and the work of French-Moroccan designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac.

This totally checked look includes a face-covering visor, a nod to the accessory often worn by an Asian grandmother.

This all-checked look includes a face-covering visor, a nod to the accessory often worn by “an Asian grandma.”

COURTESY OF SHIRLEY KURATA

For Jobu’s big reveal to the public, Kurata paid homage to the practical Asian matriarchs through their favorite visors and protective masks—and face veiling. Kurata hired New York designer Claudia Li to create the tartan trench coat, exaggerated visor and mask. (The Chinese New Zealander also designed Bagel Universe Jobu’s white pleated skirt.) “For a brief second, Jobu is an Asian grandmother, wearing a gray wig and visor,” Kurata explains, also pointing to the Easter egg hiding in plain sight: Jobu’s fleet . plaid refers to Joy’s blue and black plaid flannel worn earlier in the laundromat as she tries to reach a distracted and disapproving Evelyn. “You associate grunge fashion with plaids, and it was a perfect fit for Joy,” says Kurata.

Goth Jobu's accessories were sourced from costume designer Shirley Kurata's own archives.

Goth Jobu’s accessories were sourced from costume designer Shirley Kurata’s own archives.

COURTESY OF SHIRLEY KURATA

In the final showdown with Jobu, Evelyn not only tries to save all the universes, but also her strained relationship with Joy. The multicolored, patterned and textured Jumbled Jobu, which Kurata hand-draped, is a bold fusion of Kurata’s appreciation of avant-garde Comme des Garçons traces and remnants of Jobu’s countless characters, such as the Bagel Universe queen’s white collar around her calf and a silver driving glove that swings its nunchuck dildo fighter stint. “It embodied the confusion and helplessness that you feel just being in this world, with so much information and chaos,” says Kurata. The yellow and red plaid evokes the Jobu-Joy crossover, while the worn Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers are actually Joy’s.

“I just knew it would be important to incorporate some of his other costumes,” Kurata says, “like Joy and Jobu.”

This story first appeared in a standalone December issue of Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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