House Of Style: Shirley Kurata’s Styling Secrets [Video]

Shirley Kurata is an L.A.-based stylist who styles Peter Jensen look books, a slew of fashion editorials for magazines as well as music videos for Beck. She also works frequently with Zooey Deschanel, Elijah Wood and Miranda July. It’s basically the dream, especially when you consider that she’s super tight with the enigmatic Mulleavy sisters and styles their Rodarte runway shows. We’ve climbed into her brain with this interview with Rookie Mag, and the fine folks at Refinery 29 did the internet a solid when they photographed her home but by then our appetites were good and whet (hmm… why does that sound so tawdry?) on the prospect of rummaging in the hallowed confines of Shirley’s closet!

Shirley was incredibly accommodating and patient as we pored over her belongings with our massive cameras in tow and we’re really lucky because a peek at the deconstructed puzzle pieces really does provide a legend or else a secret decoder ring to the method behind a classic Kurata look. Shirley’s described her aesthetic as “mod secretary” but her personal style sort of reminds me of science textbooks in the ’70s. You’ve got swaths of color (usually hues that were HUGE for appliances or Corningware from the era), with accents picked up by the addition of a hat, or pair of opaque color-saturated tights, or else a belt or another accessory that mirrors or harkens back to another color or design motif, like, polka dots. It’s like how color, pattern or shape is used in an infographic; no aspect of an ensemble is accidental and everything works in tandem. It’s not overwrought, it’s just that there’s a clear point of view and a decisive, considered throughline for the eye to travel.

It’s really cool. ANYWAY, before I chew your face off waxing logorrheic about how rad she is (she does a lovely job of explaining it herself with brevity and charm), were I to boil down her style GEMS it would be that she champions experimentation, digging for vintage, and having the conviction to know what works for you and sticking by it no matter what flighty trend wafts through stores. Plus, we learned that American Apparel, Falke, and We Love Colors have great tights.

Autumn de Wilde, the photographer and director with whom Shirley collaborates frequently also dropped by. The two make this wonderful Tumblr called Daily Shirley wherein Shirley dresses up and Autumn shoots. It chronicles their adventures and travels and you get a great sense of how their vision and voices work together. It’s reductive to call it twee or else quirky, it’s more just an organic, nuanced mood with awesome lines and textures. It’s also a study in how style works. Not to get all noisy and soapboxy but you know how watered down the ideas behind a pedestrian fashblog can be? Like how sleepy you get when you scroll through the umpteenth waifish, lanky-haired, MODDLE-CUM-BLOGGEUR, whose color stories and silhouettes are HAWT-OFF-THE-RUNWAY-TO-HIGH-STREET, or, whatever? Well, this is not that. These photos just feel way more spontaneous and inventive and human and devoid of the fear and ovine tribalism that plagues a lot of fashion imagery. You know? And THANK GOD.



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