the rum diary’s costume designer fills us in!

by liza darwin

Between Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, and Amber Heard, there's no shortage of eye candy in the new movie The Rum Diary. Featuring Depp as an unstable journalist taking slightly sketchy freelance work in Puerto Rico, this '50s film (based on the classic Hunter S. Thompson novel) follows Kemp as he navigates the rocky relations between the rioting islanders and the wealthy ex-pats cashing in on the natives' discontent.

But besides the stars, the film has something else for us to feast our eyes upon: seriously amazing costumes. Turns out, Eckhart's tailored suits, Heard's sultry cocktail dresses and Depp's disheveled perfection were the work of Colleen Atwood, the Oscar-winning costume designer responsible for films like Alice in Wonderland, Edward Scissorhands, and That Thing You Do. Atwood filled us in on her styling secrets, working with Johnny Depp, and how you can copy her outfits on Halloween.

Let's talk about the main female in the film, Amber Heard's character Chenault.

Chenault was sort of the frosting on the cake, because she had style. Within the parameters of the story she was the only person who was actually chic. My inspiration for her was this kind of Irving Penn, mid '50s feeling of beautiful doyenne, perfectly fitting clothes and perfectly elegant.

How do you even get started thinking about clothes for a film like this? The Rum Diary is based on a specific time and place. The first step is finding photo research and info about the period and the time, so we looked at lots of old pictures. We started looking at clothes that just had the right feeling, starting with Johnny. We a lot to southern Florida, that type of style, since there wasn't a lot to go from. It was interesting because we had to dress the poorest of the poor to the richest of the rich.

Where do you get the clothing?

We made a lot of the principle's clothes just to get it perfect and for the extras we rented from costume shops. I also look online and at vintage stores.

What's next for you?

I just finished a movie called Dark Shadows. I'm working with Johnny again; I've worked with him a million times! I'm actually in England right now, filming Snow White and the Huntsman with Kristen Stewart.

If we wanted to dress in one of your costumes for Halloween, how would we do it?

Most of the costumes aren't that simple. For Edward Scissorhands, for example, it was actually complicated. But a good costume is really about a great silhouette. So if you can create a great costume through that and color and shape, people will get the picture.

The Rum Diary hits theaters Friday.

Edward Scissorhands, 1990.

Sleepy Hollow, 1999.

That Thing You Do!, 1996.

Chicago, 2002.

Sweeney Todd, 2007.

Alice in Wonderland, 2010.

Snow White and the Huntsman, 2012.