A Day in the Life: Johnny Wujek Shares What It's Like to Style Music's Biggest Names

The costume designer behind Katy Perry's cupcake bra, Mariah Carey's holiday looks and Sofi Tukker's custom Pride Month creation opened up to E! News about how he stitches his busy schedule together.

By Sarah Grossbart Jun 10, 2021 4:00 PMTags
Watch: How Sofi Tukker Endured 100 Days of Live DJ Sets

Some people have jobs so cool we'd actually enjoy attending their marathon Zoom meetings. Even the ones that could totally have been an email. 

Not to say we don't cherish our all-important responsibility of bringing you every last piece of need-to-know information about the casts of Bridgerton and The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, but we don't have our own glam squad or a Rolodex filled with famous names, now do we? 

But the impossibly cool people we'll be profiling in E! News' latest series totally do. Plus access to things like private drivers, designer garb and the type of professional titles we'd drop with wild abandon at parties, dinner dates or while chatting with the barista at Starbucks. Welcome to A Day in the Life...

No stranger to making it work, Johnny Wujek is used to having to execute a costume idea in a matter of days. "My life is literally like real life Project Runway," he tells E! News, "No joke. I've been on this show for probably 15 years now."

Katy Perry's Concert Costumes

That decade-and-a-half worth of experience designing iconic looks for the likes of Katy Perry, Mariah Carey and Kate Mara came in handy when readying global dance duo Sofi Tukker for Outloud: Raising Voices, L.A.'s three-day concert kickoff to Pride Month. 

Chatting with a good friend who handles PR for contemporary line Kappa, he pitched the idea of repurposing pieces from the brand's tracksuits and hoodies into a custom look for the Grammy-nominated EDM group, comprised of pals Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern. "It was very short-noticed, so when I whipped up the sketch and I sent it to them, they were like, 'Oh my God, we're obsessed! We love this so much. Let's do it,'" he recalls of the response at Kappa. "And then after they dug in deeper, they're like, 'Crap, we can't execute it in time, so can you get it made?'"

courtesy of Johnny Wujek

Which, of course he could, taking his brainchild from concept to custom creation in less than a week. As he puts it, "I mean, that's the story of my life, literally make a costume in a day."

By June 3—just hours before Sophie and Tucker were set to take the stage the following night—the looks were ready and Johnny met up with the Miami-based pair for a fitting and a "very L.A. day" of açaí bowls, al fresco lunches and just "bopping around" the City of Angels. He sketches it all out for E! News.

6:30 a.m. (PST): Waking up with the sun means he'll be, uh, dog-tired later, but duty calls. "I had to take my dogs to the groomers," Johnny explains of 8-year-old labradoodle Wilber and nearly 9-month-old, 110-pound bernedoodle Murphy (acquired during the pandemic since "I wasn't necessarily on set every day, I had more time to be home and train him and everything"). 

Then it's off to Starbucks for his morning fix: A coffee with a spinach and feta wrap. "That really just kind of kicks my day into gear," he says. "I never used to be a coffee drinker, but then I just kinda got on it and I was like, 'Okay, this is the go-go juice that I need.'"

10:10 a.m. Though Johnny arrives to their first appointment at Purple PR (the company that reps Kappa) 20 minutes early, Sophie and Tucker beat him to the Beverly Hills showroom, an extra coffee for him in hand. ("I'm like, 'Oh, okay, I'm going to be cracked out,'" he jokes of his second morning java.) 

Following a quick hello to the team, the pair—known for bops such as "Drinkee" and "Purple Hat" and their commitment to entertain fans via daily livestreams during quarantine—"pulled so much stuff," recalls Johnny, most of it earmarked for a June 6 video shoot. 

courtesy of Johnny Wujek

12 p.m. Sophie and Tucker had planned to Uber to the rest of their appointments, "and I'm like, 'No, no, no, no,'" says Johnny. "We're going to cruise around L.A." Their insider tour starts with a star sighting. "I'm like, 'Oh my god, I just saw saw Giovanni Ribisi!'" he recalls, touting his celeb-spotting skills. "I'm, like, the king of driving and seeing people."

He's also a boss at multi-tasking. "I didn't necessarily know how they would be getting around, so just being in my car, I was like, 'Okay, well I have to take this call,'" Johnny says. He had a few chats scheduled in-between stops because "I have a couple projects going on for Pride."

Among them: Releasing two hats he designed and wore on HBO's Max's competition series Legendary, resulting in floods of DMs "of 'Where do I buy this hat? Where do I buy this hat?'" he describes. So he teamed up with a friend at sustainable apparel brand General Standard because "I was like, you know what, I've never done any bit of merch or product or anything like that, so, I'm going to do it."

courtesy of Johnny Wujek

12:15 p.m. L.A. traffic problems: Unable to find parking at the next showroom—NOW PR in Beverly Hills—Johnny drops the pair at the door as he tries to hunt down a spot. As Tucker goes in search of a bathroom, Sophie does her thing, making quick work of the racks of women's wear. 

"By the time we all connected in the showroom, she was done," he marvels. "And she literally pulled that all herself, which was really funny. I'm like, 'Okay, great. These are all perfect. I don't need to do anything. On to the next.'"

1 p.m. We interrupt this working lunch to bring you some cuteness. Grabbing açaí bowls from Juice Crafters, they find a nearby park to sit and eat while Sophie and Tucker talk shop with their manager and Johnny—juggling his slate of clients while serving as costume designer on Legendary and other ventures—checks in on his other projects. 

"And then in the field behind us, these little kindergartners were graduating," he says. "It was the cutest thing. They had this big ceremony and dance party and it was so cute."

courtesy of Johnny Wujek

2:30 p.m. Moment of truth: Johnny steers his crew over to his go-to design shop, Silvia's Costumes. "They've made all my costumes for Katy Perry and Mariah Carey over the years," he explains. "And I knew that they could do this in the timeframe that we had, which was no time."

Though there were a few modifications—"We changed Tucker's outfit from overalls to just, like, the pants and the shirt with the harness thing"—they were able to have the whole process sewn up (including a little time for chatting and hanging out) in less than an hour-and-a-half. 

courtesy of Johnny Wujek

4:00 p.m. At the final showroom appointment of the day, Walker Drawas, the group flips through racks of streetwear pieces by the likes of FILA, boohooMAN and Oakley, scouting for items that can be used in that weekend's video shoot, during their summer residency in Las Vegas and stuff "they can just have and wear in life," notes Johnny. "They got to basically go shopping and they were, like, so stoked. It was so cute." 

4:45 p.m. With one last stop back at Purple PR to pick up the looks they had pulled that morning, Johnny chauffeurs them back to their Hollywood Hills rental ahead of their 6 p.m. dinner party. At this point, he shares, "my car was packed, because I had the three of them in the backseat and my whole trunk was full of clothes." A sure sign of a job well done. 

5:30 p.m. Pulling away from Sophie and Tucker's temporary digs, Johnny phones up trainer Adam Nicklas to see if he can fit in a punishing sweat session. "Hour-long, intense, getting yelled at, 'Get off your phone!'" he describes his workouts. But with seamstresses and costumers putting the last touches on his designs, "they need a response right away, so I'm like, 'I need to tell them what color the pocket is going to be or it's going to be wrong!'" he explains of keeping his cell within reach. "I yell back at him. He gets it now and I always get my workout in and I always do good."

Of all the activities in his off-hours routine ("I play tennis a lot. I have friends over. I'm very social so I love just socializing with friends and going to drag shows and doing whatever, just fun, silly stuff"), exercise is the most vital, he says. "It's definitely crucial for me, being so busy and having all these projects and my mind being all over the place, to be in a healthy place as far as fitness and mind."

Katy Perry's Pregnancy Style

10:00 p.m. Having learned the hard way that self-care is self-preservation, Johnny winds down with a bit of TV before falling asleep close to midnight. "I try to shut off at a certain point, because the normal me would be up 'til 2 in the morning," he explains. "So I feel like I've just gotten really good at pacing myself and setting goals for the day of what I need to get done and spreading things out. And I'm also very vocal with my agent and with clients. Like, this is how I can fulfill what you need without burning out."

After all, the next day—a Friday—is just as packed, Johnny and his agent arriving at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum roughly two hours before Sofi Tukker was set to take the stage at 10 p.m. When the musicians walked in to the dressing room, Johnny recalls, "They were both just like, 'Oh my god, these are so sick! These are, like, so perfect! These are amazing!'" Which, of course, are the moments that make the harried times totally worth it.  

Out in the audience, "It was cool to just be in a group of people," recalls Johnny. "Their music, dancing, the energy—it's like what the world needed at that moment." But the high point for him was seeing the crowd "just gagging over their looks." 

Witnessing the joy that his costumes can bring IRL "is the best part," he shares of his work. "This is a stressful job and there are the time constraints and all the factors that go into it, but, to me, the final result of being on stage or being on TV and knowing, like, I created that in my mind and it's being represented and it's being enjoyed in that way, is the highlight for me." 

With a career's worth of OMFG moments—seeing Katy's light-up 2010 Met Gala dress on the cover of Women's Wear Daily, her "iconic" cupcake bra and pretty much every second of her 2015 Super Bowl halftime show performance come to mind—"It's hard to call what I do a job," he admits. "Because I get to play dress-up and create cool, colorful things."