It’s no surprise that Wednesday Addams is a popular Halloween costume each year. The elements are simple: a black dress, a white collar, and two braided pigtails.
If anyone’s up to the daunting task of updating such an iconic character’s fashion, it’s Colleen Atwood. The Oscar-winning costume designer, whose credits include “Chicago,” “Memoirs of a Geisha” and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” pulled together a medley of creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky and all-together ooky ensembles for Netflix’s “Wednesday.”
“With Wednesday, we can nail the iconic look right away with a nod to the original pointed collar, little print dress and modernized platform shoes, and then put her in an environment that she totally contrasts with: an American happy-time public school,” Atwood tells Variety of her reverence for the macabre teen’s original outfit. “Then you’ve given the nod to all that’s come before.”
“When we move to the other world of Nevermore, Wednesday’s in a uniform that’s specially made because she is allergic to color,” she adds. “I wanted a gray and black stripe, but I didn’t really like how they looked in the world. So I ended up having the stripes drawn and painted. We silkscreened all her stripes, so we got something that was a softer variation on a on a stripe, which is a fun process as a designer to be able to do.”
Wednesday’s fashion couldn’t be any more different from her roommate, a bubbly blonde with an affinity for rainbow colors. “Enid’s (Emma Myers) the epitome of everything Wednesday hates: girly color, full of chatter,” Atwood says. “We had so much fun playing off that with Enid. With the hard graphics of Wednesday’s things, Enid’s palette with the orange and the pink and the yellow were like a sunny contrast to her, which helped make them both look more different from each other as characters.”
Another character Wednesday butts heads with, Gwendoline Christie’s mysterious Principal Larissa Weems, drew fashion inspiration from a Hitchcock classic. “I bought this vintage poster of Tippi Hedren in ‘The Birds.’ I showed her a picture of it. I said, ‘This is who I think you are. And she was like, ‘I love it,’” Atwood recalls, calling Weems “her own kind of misfit, in a totally different way.”
Weems’ buttoned-up wardrobe contrasted with another member of Nevermore’s staff. Christina Ricci returned to the “Addams Family” universe as the academy’s only “normie” teacher, Marilyn Thornhill. “She has a bunch of quirky vintage mixed with new stuff…there’s something kind of childish about her taste and her style, but in a creepy kind of way,” Atwood says, sharing her excitement to reunite with Ricci for the first time since 1999’s “Sleepy Hollow.” “It was so much fun to dress her again and see her.”