Legendary theatre and dance costume designer Willa Kim will receive the 2003 Patricia Zipprodt Award for Innovative Costume Design. The award, sponsored by the Fashion Institute of Technology, will presented on April 28 at Sardi’s Restaurant in New York’s theatre district.
A native of Los Angeles (she was educated at that city’s Chouinard Institute of Art), Kim began her career as an assistant to the designer Raoul Pene de Bois. Her first theatre design was the Off Broadway drama Red Eye of Love, in 1961. She designed several key Off Broadway productions of the 1960s, including Funnyhouse of a Negro (1964), Dynamite Tonight (1964), The Old Glory (1964), Scuba Duba (1966), The Ceremony of Innocence (1967), Promenade (1970) and The Screens (1971). She began designing on Broadway in the 60s but didn’t have a major hit until Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ (1978). After that, she designed several major productions, including Sophisticated Ladies (1981), Song and Dance (1985), The Front Page (1986), The Will Rogers Follies (1991), Grease (1994), and Victor//Victoria (1995).
Her introduction to the dance came in 1962, with Glen Tetley’s Birds of Sorrow. Much of her most distinguished work has been done for dance, working at San Francisco Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Pennsylvania Ballet, Smuin Ballets, Eliot Feld/Ballet Tech, Ballet Hispanico, and many others.
Among her awards are Tonys for Sophisticated Ladies and The Will Rogers Follies, Drama Desks for Promenade, The Screens and Sam Shepard’s Operation Sidewinder (1970), an Obie for The Old Glory, a Joseph Maharam Award for The Screens, and an Emmy for San Francisco Ballet’s The Tempest.
Kim’s award will be presented by her frequent colleague, designer Tony Walton.
Also, the President’s Business Leadership Award will be presented posthumously to Barbara Matera, whose costume house Barbara Matera Ltd. has been a mainstay of the costume design world in New York for many years. The award will be accepted by Matera’s husband, Arthur.
The Zipprodt Award is named after one of Broadway’s best-known costume designers, whose many credits included Fiddler on the Roof (1964), Cabaret (1966), Pippin (1973), Chicago (1975), and Sunday in the Park With George (1984), among others.