Fairytale Queen

Charlize Theron as Queen Ravenna

Charlize Theron as Queen Ravenna

MILAN, ItalyColleen Atwood is considered one of the most popular costume designer in modern Hollywood. She was ten times nominated for an Academy Award and took home three Oscars, in the years 2002 Chicago, 2006 Memoirs of a Geisha and 2011 Alice in Wonderland. Atwood also won three BAFTA Awards and five Costume Designers Guild Awards (CDG Award).

Queen Ravenna for Snow White and the Hunstman

Queen Ravenna for Snow White and the Hunstman

Queen Ravenna for Snow White and the Hunstman

Queen Ravenna for Snow White and the Hunstman

Queen Ravenna for Snow White and the Hunstman

Queen Ravenna for Snow White and the Hunstman

Atwood was born in 1950. Her career began in the 70’s of the last century with the advisory post of fashion in the U.S. state of Washington. The first steps in the world of costume and theatre began in 1987 in the movie, For Keeps. Today, the list of movies that feature Atwood’s work includes more than fifty films.

Mad Hatter. Photos by: Mah Gallo

Mad Hatter. Photos by: Mah Gallo

The first collaboration between film director Tim Burton and Colleen Atwood took place during the filming of the movie Edward Scissorshand (1990). This collaboration continued over another seven films. For the film Alice in Wonderland (2010), she developed a series of animated costumes as this particular movie takes place in various dream-like worlds. When asked about her creative approach in making all these worlds, Atwood explained, “It is indeed a complex project because my work was carried out in three parts: creating the costumes of the real world to which it belongs Alice, Victorian England, designing the costumes of Wonderland and its inhabitants and then work together to create the clothes of the animated characters”.

Colleen did a lot of research for the costume of the Mad Hatter character of Alice in Wonderland, which is based on an original model of the 1860’s. While designing the magical costume, Colleen and her team used a lot of imagination, especially on the details, such as bearings, pins and thimbles that make noises when the Mad Hatter was uncomfortable.

All these details were then exploited by the celebrated actor Johnny Depp‘ interpretation of his character. The colour of the coat is inspired by a so-called ‘mood ring’, a ring that changes colour depending on the mood, with a variety of shades sometimes animated in a single fabric. The shape of the intrigued character’s hat is an illustration reminiscent of the era made out of a brown/green vintage leather, was embroidered with gold thread and decorated with a sash eccentric.

Another Colleen’s successful project for which she was nominated for an Oscar is Snow White and the Hunstman (2012). She made almost 2,000 costumes featuring extraordinary details for this film. She called Snow White a “Particularly stylistically challenging film”. As the designer explained, “It was a great and very exciting design experience, and I always like to challenge myself”. One of the extraordinary costumes in this film is Queen Ravenna‘s clothing. The Director Rupert Sanders and Colleen decided that each Queen Ravenna‘s costume (interpreted by Charlize Theron) will feature elements symbolising death. One of the first appearances of Queen Ravenna in the film is during her wedding with the father of Snow White. Her wedding gown was made ​​of fabric found in Paris and gold details from Italy featuring a dramatic collar – like a cage made ​​of bones of small animals. This immediately tells us about the nature of the bride.

More Gothic action-adventure than twee fairy tale, Snow White and the Huntsman subverts the age-old innocent-princess ideal thanks in part to costume designer Colleen Atwood’s vision for Kristen Stewart’s weaponised heroine. Although Atwood and Sanders maintained the Brothers Grimm genetic code for the character—skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony—the pair opted against a restrictive gown, selecting a knee-length suede dress and boots more befitting of the script’s warrior princess.

Atwood’s forthcoming project brings her to the set of Breakfast at Tiffany’s for her Broadway début. But don’t look for a re-creation of the 1961 Audrey Hepburn film; she will give it a 1940’s spin.

Photography by: www.celluloidportraits.com | Edited by: Elizabeth Deheza

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