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Willa Kim

Designer Biography

Willa Kim is a widely recognized and celebrated costume designer for ballet, theatre, opera and television. A Korean American, she started life as a painter in Los Angeles California, but fate thrust her into the glamourous world of Karinska and the great Raoul Pène du Bois at Paramount Studios where she began her transition from painter to costume designer. After working with them on the film version of Lady in the Dark. Kim assisted Pène du Bois on Broadway productions including Gypsy, Wonderful Town, and The Music Man, and Karinska on designs by Salvador Dali and others. She is especially proud of the innovations she introduced into dance costumes including her breakthrough use of stretch fabrics and the painting techniques she pioneered combining her background as a painter and her profession as a designer. Although considered one of the foremost designers of dance with over 170 dance and ballet productions to her credit, she has also embraced the more liberating challenges of opera and theatre.

Among her many honors are two Tony Awards for outstanding costume design (Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies, Tommy Tunes' The Will Rogers Follies) among six nominations (Peter Allen's Legs Diamond, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song & Dance, Bob Fosse's Dancin', and Joel Grey's Goodtime Charley). She won Drama Desk Awards for Jean Genet's The Screens, Irene Fornes' Promenade, and Sam Shepard's Operation Sidewinder. She received Obie Awards for Robert Lowell's trilogy The Old Glory and Lonie Robertson's Women Before A Glass and Emmy Awards for Michael Smuin's The Tempest and A Song For Dead Warriors when the ballets were broadcast.

Willa Kim has received lifetime achievement awards from the Fashion Institute of Technology and the United States Institute for Theatre Technology. Theatre Development Fund honored her with the Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award, the League of Professional Theatre Women presented her the Ruth Morley Designing Woman Award, and she has been inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame.

Designer Gallery

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Costume at the Turn of the Century (1990 - 2015) - Moscow, Russia - - June-August 2015

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