Academy Award-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland) puts her amazing vision and expert craftsmanship to work bringing to life the characters of Snow White and the Huntsman and presenting them to modern audiences through astonishingly intricate and carefully assembled designs. In a film where symbolism is crucial to the story and wardrobe is integral, Atwood’s contributions blend seamlessly into a world that’s both fantastical and realistic and speaks volumes about the characters. We sat down with Atwood at a roundtable interview to talk Snow White and the Huntsman and why it was an amazing treat for her to design costumes that reflected the themes of the iconic story and helped the actors transition into the world of their characters.
Surrounded by a gallery of the costumes she designed for the film, the visionary designer told us about her collaboration with Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart, what distinguished her work on this film from her award-winning contributions to other films, and how she took a concept and made it work physically without compromising the design so that the costumes could accommodate the action and evolve with the story.
At what point do you start collaborating with the director to come up with that vision?
Atwood: The first meeting I have after I’ve read the script is with the director. I talk to him about what his vision of the movie is and what he’s thinking. This is a Snow White with a little bit of a dark edge to it, and I knew from the start that Rupert (director Rupert Sanders) wanted it. So, once I started doing my work, that was step one.
How do balance trying to cater to the symbolism and also to the character as it progresses throughout the story? How do you make sure the costume speaks to both?
Atwood: In this movie, there are more symbolic elements in Ravenna’s costume which go on a journey from lightness, which you see there in the beginning [where] she’s sort of this golden personage. But, there’s always an element of trapped death in her costumes, such as the skeletal cage around her shoulders in her wedding costume. The trim of her blue costume is made with beetle wings from Thailand which are beetles that they eat. Another of her costumes kind of speaks for itself. It’s got a reptilian quality. So her costumes progress from a lighter mood through a dark mood. The feather cape I knew in the beginning had to turn into birds so that was one of the first things we started with. The gold dress underneath was a dress that goes through a black slick and comes out black, and when it does, it almost looks like old skin. There are all kinds of elements that you incorporate in the textures as you go. There’s not a certain moment that’s a symbolic moment in this movie. It’s not that kind of movie.
You said you made 20 of Snow White’s costume. For the other costumes and dresses, how many did you make?
Atwood: Well we made 250 of the Warrior Costume. That one [Snow White] was 20. The Huntsman was about 15. The Wedding dress was a one off. There were three of the gold dress. There were two of the cape, one of which got totally oil slicked out. It looks cool but it’s kind of destroyed. It’s a one off because she wears it for a very short time in the movie. And there’s three of the Reptilian costume because it’s an action costume as well. All the pieces of that come off so you can shoot without the heavy skirt if you want it to be less weight. The shoulder pieces come off so that in between takes Charlize (Theron) can be comfortable in it but it’s also got stretch in it. That dress has huge stretch arm pits in it. There are all kinds of things like that incorporated into it if you know you’re going to [use it that way]........
You can read the full Q&A on Collider
thnx to KSN