You may not be familiar with her name, but you probably know her work. Some of the most iconic costumes in the Tim Burton universe, from Edward Scissorhands to Sweeny Todd, have all come from the mind and hands of Colleen Atwood. Here we’ll look at her latest Oscar winning work from the hit movie, Alice in Wonderland, including concept drawings, photos, and a video interview with the designer herself.
Winner of 3 Academy Awards and 9 Oscar nominations, Colleen Atwood has contributed designs to almost 60 movies, including Memiors of a Geisha, Sweeny Todd, Chicago, and Edward Scissorhands, making her designs Hollywood icons. Her work on Alice in wonderland was impressive, and I especially liked all of the details designed into the Mad Hatter’s outfit, from the thread spools reminiscent of a guerilla fighter’s ammunition belt, to the trick bow tie emphasizing his fickle emotional state. While I can happily debate some of Tim Burton’s directorial decisions, the visual look of the film was pure eye candy.
The Finished Costumes
Here are some of Atwood’s award winning designs from Alice in Wonderland for Alice, the Red Queen, the Mad Hatter, and the White Queen:
The Concept Designs
For me, what’s even more interesting than the finished designs are the preliminary concept sketches. Here Atwood is focusing on the character of alice before and after her fall down the rabbit hole, followed by designs and notes for the Red Queen’s iconic heart drenched ensemble. Who knew the Red Queen loved fishnet?
The Designer Speaks
In the following video, Atwood traces her design process for Alice in Wonderland from the early designs to several of the finished pieces. Interesting little insights include the rabbits embroidered on Alice’s dress pre-tumble down the rabbit hole, and the challenge of designing the Queen’s collars so that she had some semblance of a neck instead of just being a giant floating head.
The Mind of Tim Burton
And finally, to give you an idea of where it all originated from, here are two of Tim Burton’s own character designs for the film. Looking at them, it’s cool to see how Atwood has blended Burton’s over the top style with hers, but then again, she has had over twenty years of practice to get it right.