Colleen Atwood’s style aesthetic has been exhibited across the silver screen in over 50 films to date, including Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands and Rob Marshall’s Chicago—where fashion is at the crux of the drama. Having just wrapped her latest project, Snow White and the Huntsman (in theaters June 1), the Academy Award-winning costume designer is now dipping her toe in the fashion pool as well—with a 12-piece, Snow White-inspired line for HSN, out May 30. We caught up with Atwood to find out more.
ELLE: This marks your first foray into fashion. Were you nervous?
Colleen Atwood: Yes, because it’s really different from what I do. I had to let go of a lot of control, and it’s a whole other game.
ELLE: The looks in the line for HSN were made to look more sporty than medieval, like they are in the movie. Was this a conscious decision to make your designs more accessible?
CA: Yes, it was for many reasons. A lot of medieval design is very simple—which relates to modern design—but I tried to use medieval elements with it to kind of give it a little bit of a romantic twist. Some of the things are very simple. One dress has leather medieval buckles like armor, so I used elements of [medieval], but not going full-on.
ELLE: What are the differences between being a costume designer versus a fashion designer?
CA: Doing this kind of fashion design is very different from costume design—in the sense that you’re thinking about the span of people that could potentially wear something and look great in it and make them look good or maybe better than they might otherwise, where in film, you’re designing for characters, and you’re designing generally on people that are pretty amazing with nothing on, so it’s a different kind of talent. But in both ways you’re trying to enhance the beauty of the individual, and I think that’s what clothing design is: Whoever the person is wearing it, just try to make them look and feel better about themselves.
ELLE: Did you look to previous film versions of Snow White while designing the costumes? Did you have to consult Mirror Mirror to make sure you weren’t doing something similar?
CA: Because our script was kind of different from the fairytale in that sense, I think my big acknowledgment to the whole fairytale is probably the sleeves on Kristen [Stewart]’s [costume] that are sort of like Snow White’s from the cartoon. But other than that, I sort of just went with a different creation. I mean, I love in the cartoon the queen’s pointy crown which seemed to be an element that went with the architecture of the castle, but I think that basically, because the script was different than anything else, I went with the script. I wasn’t worried about Mirror Mirror because I knew it was a different take on the story and it just was more fluffy and a different vibe, so I felt safe that I didn’t have to worry about that.
ELLE: Why did you finally decide to launch an HSN collection with Snow White and the Huntsman as opposed to all of the other films you’ve worked on?
CA: [HSN] was doing a whole hookup with Universal Studios about the collection, and they’re coming into a whole new level of fashion at HSN. So when they approached me, I was like, “Yeah, why not? I’ll give it a shot.” No one has really asked me before and come up with the goods and said, “Yeah, we’ll do it. We’ll take care of it.” So it was fun to do.
ELLE: Do you hope to have a line of your own someday?
CA: I would love to do that along with continuing to do film. I think I could do it as I go learn in that way in fashion. It’s a new thing, I like changing up things. I just met with somebody today about doing a ballet. It’s fun as a designer to think of all the different things you can do with design.
ELLE: What’s next for you? Are there any new costume projects on the horizon?
CA: I’m working on a film called The Thin Man with Rob Marshall, who I did [Memoirs of a] Geisha and Chicago with. It’s a ‘30s piece, and it’s very glamorous ‘30s, so it’s a whole other facet. But I think it has huge potential and it’s going to be really fun for me.