'Snow White and the Huntsman': Colleen Atwood on Creating the Fairytale Costumes (Video)
From the trailers, clips and photos that have made their way onto the web leading up to the release of Snow White and the Huntsman, Universal’s film promises to be a darker, tougher take on the timeless fairytale.
Snow White (Kristen Stewart) isn’t a damsel in distress, but rather a young woman who can wield a sword and shield. The Queen (Charlize Theron) eats young girls’ youths for breakfast and has a stubborn mean streak. The rugged huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) is enlisted by the evil Queen to track down the fair maiden so that the queen can remain the fairest of them all.
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To dress the actors for Rupert Sanders’ action-packed drama would be no easy feat, but with Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood in charge the results were a collection of dark and dramatic outfits that showcased both form and function. She created more than 1,000 costumes for the film, including dressing two armies, an evil queen and Snow White herself.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Atwood -- who has won three Academy Awards for best costume design for Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha and Alice in Wonderland -- explained that she based her ideas for the costumes first on the script and Sanders’ vision.
The most dramatic collection of costumes went to Theron, whose Queen sports some stunning gowns, including Atwood’s current favorite, an off-white and gold wedding gown with an intricate collar.
Atwood says that the gowns mirror the progression of the Queen's mental state. “She comes from kind of a hopeful place, thinking she’s going to be a queen again,” Atwood said of Theron's character.
“Her costumes kind of crumble along with her. They go from light to dark to very dark at the end,” she added.
The wedding gown features a collar that Atwood says was inspired by “a skeletal cage.” It’s made out of parchment paper that has been manipulated into a complicated structural shape.
The costume designer also told THR about the unique detail she added to one of Charlize’s costume: dung beetle shells. She found the item at a Thailand market, and each one had to be individually drilled to put on the bodice of one of the gowns.
In contrast, Stewart’s Snow White spends most of the film in just two outfits: a earth-toned frock and a suit of armor. The frock, which is a green tone that Atwood said went well with Stewart’s eyes, starts out long, but gets a makeover from Hemsworth’s huntsman.
“Once she escapes and meets up with the huntsman, he actually cuts off her dress and makes it so she can run, and move, and do all the things that she has to do,” Atwood said.
The other outfit that Stewart wears is a suit of armor, which Atwood revealed was designed to look like several different types of armor made into one. “So, it’s armor of the people,” she added.
Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman opens in theaters on June 1.
Watch THR’s full interview with Colleen Atwood above.
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