Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Atwood Effect

Should you find yourself falling down an unnaturally deep hole, after following a very punctual rabbit, firstly you should kick yourself for not seeing that coming, secondly you need to get onto Colleen Atwood to design your costumes for the adventures ahead!

As other adolescents spent the evening overturning bins and pillaging High Streets all over Britain, I joined in the madness by watching Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. It turns out the Madhatter actually makes more sense than yobs failing to break through bulletproof glass with a baseball bat.

Little Bit Vivienne Westwood?
Anyway, I found myself concentrating more on the outfits than what the Queen of Hearts had to say. If that is a crime then “off with my head!” but it turns out behind the beautiful creations lays a costume designing genius responsible for the outfits in a wide range of movies! From the kimonos in Memoirs of a Geisha to the historically accurate and might I say dapper pieces in the 1930’s gangster film Public Enemies. Atwood is not averse to dressing any time period, culture or fantasy world and has enabled some of the most loved characters to come to life.

Considering she has won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design three times at the Oscars (and been nominated nine times), I am probably the last to discover her artistic abilities but it is her attention to detail that is so interesting.

Did you notice the rabbit embroidery around the hem of Alice’s first dress, pre-empting her fall down the rabbit hole?

Atwood even made the underlayers a feature in Alice’s initial dress, knowing they would be seen as she falls, and provides us with the glimpse of a striped petticoat to add dimension for the 3D film.

Of course, the designer also had to contend with dressing someone who would not stop changing size. You know you have found an expert when they successfully design a dress that is strikingly beautiful despite having to look like it has been made by a mad milliner with a few scraps of material!

Who needs special effects when you can make a bow-tie rise and fall to reflect mood? Johnny Depp could control the movement of the colourful accessory to accentuate his changing disposition.

Atwood even played-up to the size of the Queen of Heart’s head by darkening the waist area on the costume. This gives the illusion of narrowing the smallest part of the body even further and making the head appear truly bulbous.

These details may seem menial but, for me, they are the signs of a truly accomplished expert who deserves recognition for the thought she puts into her creations. As Atwood said, "whether it's 'Public Enemies' or 'Nine' or 'Alice in Wonderland,' you take a world and you plug into it," and she has accomplished this so stylishly. My eyes were certainly transfixed on the outfits, though it did help that Johnny Depp wasn’t quite looking himself!

I’d love to hear about your favourite film or TV costume; whether it be that tutu from The Black Swan or every outfit from That 70’s Show!  xx

1 comment: