Iconic costumes can make or break the magic of any film. Just look at the Academy Award-winning costumes from the jazz age musical Chicago, stunning silk kimonos of Memoirs of a Geisha, and Tim Burton’s psychedelic Alice in Wonderland, all of which were designed by renowned costume designer and sartorial genius Colleen Atwood.
The newest addition to Atwood’s costuming resume? Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them.
Her presence on set speaks to her dedication in designing whimsical pieces for a magical era. Fantastic Beasts takes place in New York circa 1926 so the costuming marries the wizarding world to the American Jazz Age. Atwood’s designs blend fantasy with a real historical period. She “[makes] something that’s a version of that time,” integrating both vintage pieces and new creations.
To create a wardrobe around vintage pieces, Atwood acquired as much period stock from costume houses worldwide. She says “I was familiar with the period. I did Chicago a long time ago and it’s sort of the same era. I reread a couple of [F Scott] Fitzgerald books, which are always fun to go back to because he’s very descriptive about the frenzy and the romance of the period. It has so much heart that it’s helped me, and this story has so much heart.”
You’ll recognize Atwood’s work in Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander coatas well as Colin Farrell’s spectacular coat. Atwood tells The Pottermore Correspondent that she dyed the fabric a dark peacock blue in order to achieve a look “true to the sky and the earth and land.” Her fabric choices for both coats are exquisite and emphasize her attention to detail. To create a masterpiece for Farrell’s character, Percival Graves, Atwood utilized cashmere with lurex that shimmers like magic.
She knows what works for any given character and she lets that visual sense guide her designs. She tells Pottermore, “I don’t sew, I design. I have tailors and people who work on that side of it. I work with a sketch artist. If I were to sketch every piece I’d never get the job done because there’s so much, so I do the concept work and give notes and then the sketch artist can work on it properly while I move on to something else.”
Are you ready to be whisked to the wizarding New York where Atwood’s masterpieces dance across on the silver screen?