Killer Kimonos

A Richmond designer of luxury silk fashions has her product featured in the new “Halloween Ends” movie.

When movie director David Gordon Green was preparing to make the recent “Halloween Ends” horror movie, the current number one film in the country, he apparently wanted his murder victims to go out in style.

Regarding costumes, he immediately thought of his fashionable friend, designer Elizabeth Few, and her beautiful, Leizu silk kimonos. Few, who lives in Richmond, has known Green for years now, she says, having met him in New York through a friend who worked in the costume department on Green’s films and who shares two children with the director.

“We’re good friends. [Green] had given Jamie Lee Curtis my kimono and pillowcases one year, and Ellen Burstyn, which was a thrill,” Few says. “When he called about this project, he imagined the character, Nurse Deb, being given this gift, and she’s going to open it, and it’s going to be a beautiful kimono. She puts it on then gets murdered (laughs).”

The director wasn’t sure his friend would go for it, but Few was happy to have her designs featured in a legendary horror film franchise. Even though she hasn’t seen any of the “Halloween” movies herself.

Originally from South Carolina, Few went to high school in Richmond as a border at St. Catherine’s School (disclosure: we were friends in the ‘80s). She moved back to Richmond in 2014, after time spent living in New York and Los Angeles and starting a family. She had her daughter, Marlowe, while working as an artist in California with her then actor husband, an unsung comedic genius if you’ve seen his commercial demo reel. The couple has divorced but remains close friends.

“After my daughter was born, someone sent her a silk baby blanket, and I would drape that across my pillow and sleep on it. I was like, ‘I’ll take that,’” Few says, laughing and noting that sleeping on silk is good for your hair and skin, as well as being hypoallergenic. “So when we moved back to Richmond, it seemed like the timing was right.”

She named her textile brand, Leizu by Elizabeth Few, after a Chinese empress who discovered the silk fiber in 2,700 B.C. Starting with just 20 yards of silk, Few found a method of natural dying where she could use botanicals to make an imprint on the silk (also known as “ecoprinting”). She and her daughter would gather flowers from their garden and experiment, making prints on pillowcases, which sold out immediately. Few had a background in fashion and knew how to make patterns for kimonos and slip dresses.

The silk that she uses, charmeuse, is mainly available from China; the cocoon , which is harvested from mulberry trees, has to be steamed and one long thread is used on the loom, making it extremely soft and luxurious. Few has been adamant about making her brand adhere to sustainable business practices: “Silk has low environmental impact, it doesn’t take a lot of land to cultivate it … the mulberry trees grow vertically, unlike cotton.”

But it’s notoriously difficult to sew silk, so Few hired the talents of a Chesterfield duo of sister seamstresses to do the cutting and sewing. “Everything they do is incredible,” she says. “Basically, I dye everything in my kitchen in these big crab pots.” Her home studio now resides in Manchester in a fabulous brick home from 1910, and she will occasionally use assistants to handle any spikes in demand.

Her company’s big break came after she got her website running, and managed to win an in-store artisan competition at ABC Carpet & Home, an “amazing” store in New York City, which helped her product become better known. “Once I got into that store, that’s when word started to get out and it helped open doors,” she says. She started earning praise from places like Vogue, Forbes, goop (“brings a whole new meaning to beauty sleep”), and Elle Decor (“Bohemian bedroom decor that will transform your space into an at-home oasis.”)

Make no mistake, Leizu is a luxury brand, produced in small batches, and the price point is reflective of the time, personal effort and creativity that goes into each item. “We don’t sell a crazy huge volume, but the busiest I’ve been was during COVID,” Few says. “We were making face masks, and people were really investing more in their homes.”

Pillowcases remain her “hero” product, but she also creates duvet covers, decorative pillows, kimonos (like in the film), slip dresses, sleep masks and other accessories like scrunchies, so that every part of the silk is used and nothing is wasted, she says.

Richmond is not the main market for Leizu, Few notes that she sells more in California and Texas. Unfortunately, you can’t find her products in any local stores, though they certainly seem like they would be great gifts for that special someone around Valentine’s Day or anniversaries. She used to sell primarily through goop (Gwyneth Paltrow’s brand) but now is selling directly to customers as well as traveling to various fashion shows in select cities. Her latest new horizon involves creating digital prints and working with a graphic designer to reproduce one of her favorite prints, she says.

As far as watching her kimono get bloodied on the big screen, that will come in due time. “I’m going to wait to see this movie until I’ve seen the first one,” she says.

That’s not a bad idea, I told her. It’s still the best one.

To learn more about Leizu or order some luxurious threads of your own, visit the website here.


WHAT YOU WANT TO KNOW — straight to your inbox

* indicates required
Our mailing lists: