the insider: colleen atwood
“in fittings, she never looked in the mirror and stared at herself.”
From Edward Scissorhands and Alice in Wonderland, to Memoirs of a Geisha, Colleen Atwood is pretty much the Meryl Streep of costume design. Aside from being extraordinarily detailed, her costumes almost always boast a life of their own, often allowing the actors to fully indulge their imaginations and transform into the characters they are playing. This Friday, the three-time Oscar winner’s latest creations for Snow White and the Huntsman will hit screens across the globe. To kick off all the excitement, we interviewed the designer on her inspiration for the costumes in the movie, her first retail collection (on sale today at HSN), and, duh, Edward Scissorhands. Designing for retail must have been a lot different from costume design, right? It’s a different mindset in a way. Movies are so detail oriented. I really wanted to aim for the wearability elements. I like the dress a lot. It’s something I would wear. When you’re working on a costume, are you ever influenced by the actor’s personal style at all? Well I always show the actors the first designs and talk to them about what they’re thoughts are. The thing about Charlize is she’s a great character actress. In fittings, she never looked in the mirror and stared at herself. She moves in the costume and sees how it feels… that’s how she inhabits her character. Neither she nor Kristen were preoccupied with the mirror at all. How did you initially conceptualize Kristen’s costume? I wanted it to be like a really action girl version of Snow White. And I knew it was going to be in outdoor elements and stuff so I wanted it to look good in the environment. We found that weird greeny-brown suede that looked so good with her eye color. And then she goes into armor at the end of the movie which was fun for her to do. She was really into that! I mean she’s never worn those kinds of costumes before. So it was quite an experience for her. But I’m sure she wanted to burn it by the end! She had to wear it for so many days.This movie seems like so much work! It was A LOT of work! We made over 2,000 costumes.Of all the movies you’ve worked on, which did you enjoy the most? I’m partial to Edward Scissorhands! Well I have a real connection to that movie because it’s the first movie I met Tim (Burton) and Johnny (Depp) on. And we’ve had such a nice long collaboration. I really loved doing Memoirs of a Geisha too. It was such a wonderful journey into that world, and working with all the prints and textiles. It’s amazing- each print has it’s own story! You can go insane doing research for that.Check out Colleen’s Snow White and the Huntsman inspired collection here!