Fashion Forward with Yuka Silvera
Yuka Silvera has loved fashion for as long as she can remember. The freelance costume- and couture designer says she was heavily influenced by pop culture when she was growing up in Tokyo. Even as a child, she would do her best to copy the clothes and looks from her favorite films, actors, and pop stars.
One such influence was the film Grease, which the East Hampton resident says she and her friends were obsessed with as young girls.
“We had the video and would just watch it over and over, performing the songs and scenes while wearing clothes that were like the costumes,” she says, adding that as far back as she can remember, she was drawn to edgy, high style. “I was a Rizzo; definitely not a Sandy.”
As she grew up, Silvera was eager to learn more about the world of fashion, particularly the world of couture. Finding inspiration from decades of designer fashion — from the dramatic tailoring of the 1940s, to the mod looks of the 60s, and the unconventional edginess of fashion “enfant terrible” John Paul Gaultier in the 80s — she began to form her own voice as a creator.
She studied Fashion Design and Pattern Making at Vantan Design Institute in Tokyo and later Theatrical Costume Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. A pattern maker by trade, Silvera eventually branched out into the worlds of stage and film sets. Highlights include designing costumes for Tony- Oscar- and Drama Desk set and costume award winner Tony Walton and his staged version of My Fair Lady; working on several stage plays and performances directed by Stephen Hamilton, Emma Walton Hamilton, Kate Mueth and Sara Jo Strickland; and also on the films Beach House and
Adding a new twist to her trade, Silvera was recently approached by an advertising company to make a replica of a costume worn on the Netflix show The Witcher. Her task was to recreate the iconic teal blue velvet hooded coat worn by the character Ciri.
“I’m glad they found me for it,” she says of the look she was asked to make. “That was fun! I can see myself doing that again.”
While the pandemic brought much of her theatrical work to a halt, Silvera decided to get busy and find a new way to make beautiful things. She started with making masks, and then went on to launch her own online clothing shop, Girls on Film Collection.
A clever nod to Silvera’s love of cinema and her “obsession” with the band Duran Duran (who had a huge hit with a single of the same name back in 1981), the designer’s endeavor features a variety of her “everyday costumes.” The items are for purchase and rent and include haute couture creations as well as rent-the-runway type and vintage for-sale items by other fashion designers.
There’s something there for just about everyone, according to Silvera. The wide variety of options fit and flatter a range of body types as well; all without breaking the bank.
“I have a lot of cool clothing, from lots of different eras, styles and designers,” she says. “It’s a great way to try new things and explore different looks without a huge price tag or total commitment.”
Silvera reports that her inventory is constantly being updated. First, because she’s busy with designing her own clothing and collecting interesting pieces from others, and also because she doesn’t like to wear the same looks over and over again.
“Once I wear it and I post it, I don’t want to wear it again,” she says of some of her more distinct pieces.
A frequent attendee at local benefits and philanthropic outings, Silvera’s style is on full display as she supports local causes. Odds are, that outfit that you’ve seen her in at LongHouse Reserve, Guild Hall, Parrish Art Museum or at The Stephen Talkhouse — she plays bass and loves to perform in the Battle of the Fantasy Girl Bands — will soon be available on her site at girlsonfilmcollection.com.
A fierce advocate for animals and the environment, the designer reports that she tries to reuse, recycle and upcycle as often as possible, including in the packaging and shipping materials that she uses. Also, a portion of the proceeds from her online collection is donated to local not-for-profits.
“It’s important to give back and support whatever and whenever I can,” she says.