Emi Wada, Oscar-Winning ‘Ran’ Costume Designer, Dies at 84

Wada also designed costumes for acclaimed stage productions, including the Chinese adaptation of Shakespeare’s ”King Lear“

Photo by Ken Ishii/Getty Images

Emi Wada, the Oscar-winning costume designer of Akira Kurosawa’s “Ran,” has died, the Associated Press reported. She was 84.

Wada died on Saturday, November 13 — confirmed by family members to Japanese media — and no cause of death was immediately given, according to the AP.

Beyond her work in “Ran,” Wada earned acclaim for her costume designs for Peter Greenaway’s “Prospero’s Books” as well as Zhang Yimou’s “Hero” and “House of Flying Daggers.” Wada was also prolific in stage costuming, designing costumes for operas including Tan Dun’s “The First Emperor” and the National Ballet of China’s performance of “The Peony Pavillion.”

Wada also designed the costumes for the 2018 Chinese adaptation of Shakespeare’s “King Lear.”

When accepting her Oscar for “Ran” in 1986, Wada joked of Kurosawa, “He doesn’t need my costuming.”

Emi Wada was born in Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture. When she was 20 years old, she married TV director Ben Wada. Emi Wada initially wanted to be a painter, and first pursued that in school, but upon marrying, she began designing onscreen costumes and stuck with it.

“Over the 60 years I’ve been doing this work, I’ve never gotten tired of it,” Wada said in a video message to audiences at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2017. “I see myself as really lucky.”

During her career, Wada also released multiple books on her costumes and work, including “My Costumes,” “EMI WADA WORKS,” and “My Life in the Making.” Most recently, in 2020, Wada designed the costumes for Ann Hui’s “Love After Love,” which debuted at the Venice International Film Festival.

Funeral services were held with family and close friends, media reports said.

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