Artist’s Statement

For centuries, clothing has played an integral part of every single person’s lives. Every day, billions of people around the world get up and get dressed, some throwing on whatever clothes are available, some picking and choosing their outfits carefully and intentionally. Some dress to blend in with the crowd, some dress to stand out and make a statement. The clothes we choose to wear are a reflection of who we are and what we believe in.

I have always believed that clothing can define a character. A costume can change the way an actor stands, walks, talks, acts. We can see the class and status of a character through the lace and embroidery on the coat’s cuffs or the rips and tears and stains on the shirt’s hem. We can see the personality through the colors and prints of the fabrics, the varied stylings of suits and matching ties and pocket squares. We can see where the character is going through the dress shoes or the cocktail dress. We can see the evolution of the character through the gradual distress of their clothing or the constant neatness of the shirt tucked in, the same way, every single time. We know who the character is before the actor even opens their mouth.

In my designs, I strive for authenticity and relatability. I want to bring a character to life in a way that makes people see beyond the costume and want to learn more about who the character is. In making this connection, I believe that we can see and value people who we may not have the privilege of interacting with on a daily basis. We can understand the people who came before us, the people who constantly surround us, and the people who may come after us.


“…costume designer Kathleen Qiu creates a time and space that is incredibly direct and intentional.” – Sahar Yousefi – Honky, Role Players Ensemble (2019)

“Kathleen Qiu’s costumes, especially for the beautiful Clara as well as for the plain Fosca, are terrific.” – Carol Benet – Passion, Custom Made Theatre (2019)

“Scenes are often played with invisible props. But the dominant black and white costumery and accessories create a striking period look.” – Victor Cordell – Universal Robots, Quantum Dragon Theatre (2018)

“Kathleen Qiu deserves huge raves for finding or making that legendary Monroe dress, and the men’s clothing befit the 1950s timeframe.” – Joanne Engelhardt – Insignificance, Dragon Productions Theatre Company (2018)

“Costume designer Kathleen Qiu has designed chic costumes, especially Jackie-O’s wardrobe.” – Richard Connema – The House of Yes, Custom Made Theatre (2017)

“Kathleen Qiu dresses the would-be aristocrats of suburbia in evening finery for Thanksgiving and brings Jackie O’s Dallas-based fantasies about November 22, 1963 to full life with effects full of farce and fun (and some intended shock).” – Theatre Eddys, The House of Yes, Custom Made Theatre (2017)



Nominated: 2019 Broadway World Awards, San Francisco – Best Costume Design for Passion ,Custom Made Theatre

Nominated: 2019 San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Excellence in Theatre Awards – Best Costume Design for a house with fewer than 100 seats for Passion , Custom Made Theatre