Colleen Atwood is on that rarefied list of women who can raise the profile of a film just by being connected to it. And that’s no easy feat for a costume designer.
Atwood can count two Oscars, two BAFTAs and four Costume Designers Guild Awards among her accolades, but also a surprising number of bloggers and Facebook fans who know her by name, anticipate her next move and celebrate the release of her films on DVD with themed costume parties.
Atwood’s Oscar-worthy designs for “Alice in Wonderland” set off a fashion frenzy, inspiring Furla and Versace handbags and Tom Binns and Swarovski jewelry lines. She departed from the book’s childlike image of “Alice,” creating couture gowns for Mia Wasikowska’s character that popped up on fashion sites the world over.
“We sort of stepped out of the arena of the usual Alice in Wonderland image into something we thought, A) was more fun and, B) people could relate to more for someone that age,” Atwood explains.
Atwood has a unique ability to infuse humor into characters through silhouette, while creating clothes that, as wacky as they are, could segue onto the runway. She gave Johnny Depp’s psychedelic “Mad Hatter” attire a bit of Victorian panache with layers of sheer silks torn to add texture and depth.
Expect more fashion influence from Atwood’s upcoming projects. She’ll collaborate for the eighth time with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp on the re-make of cult ’70s TV show “Dark Shadows,” and just wrapped the much-anticipated thriller “The Tourist,” starring Depp and Angelina Jolie. Atwood describes “The Tourist” as a modern-day Hitchcock-style movie set in Venice, giving her the chance to create clothes for “a rarefied world of elegance.”
“When I started work on ‘The Tourist,’ I thought to myself, ‘I should try and get someone like Armani to consult on the costumes,'” says director Florian Henckel von Donnersmark. “After a few meetings with Colleen, that thought had changed into, ‘Boy, would Giorgio be lucky to have someone like her consult him.'”