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HomeAwardsContender -- Costume Designer Colleen Atwood, Into the Woods

Contender — Costume Designer Colleen Atwood, Into the Woods


Colleen Atwood
Colleen Atwood

Rob Marshall‘s Into the Woods weaves the story of a baker and his wife who wish to have a child, with the tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel. The musical adventure boasts a bevy of splendid costumes designed by costume designer Colleen Atwood, who is no stranger to acclaim for her work. She’s been nominated for seven Academy Awards, for Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), Nine (2009), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Beloved (1998) and Little Women (1994), and won three for Alice in Wonderland (2010), Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) and Chicago (2002).

Atwood has collaborated with Marshall in the past and was eager to work with him again, especially given the nature of this project. “The combination of getting to do a musical on film with Rob, who is extremely knowledgeable in that area, and it being a Stephen Sondheim musical was too good to be true,” she said. “That was before I even knew who the cast was, so it was an exciting package.”

Into the Woods
Into the Woods

The costume designer dived into the project by researching the illustrations in different Brothers Grimm fairy tales. She also looked at textiles to incorporate into the costumes. A sketching period followed. There was less than four months to prep, which is not particularly long for a fantasy film like this.

The textures of the forest were a main source of inspiration, especially the leaves and the look of light and dark on the bark. “I took textures that were quite basic and embellished them,” Atwood explained. The witch’s costume was made from a chiffon fabric with thin leather cords that had a wood-like texture. On the wolf, she took pictures of fur and embroidered on that look of fur. With Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel, she dyed two different layers of fabrics different tones and layered them to give the dress a certain kind of texture. “It’s more interesting to be able to do things like that and so, in collaboration with the cinematographer, it gives the textiles a kind of lighting that responds well to the digital process.”

LR-IntoTheWoods54514fa624084When it came to color, Atwood sought out ones that felt organic in the forest. For instance, Little Red Riding Hood’s cape reminded her of rose petals. “I wanted to use colors that were muted but still strong.” For the big revealing of the witch, she used a color of enchantment, a teal blue. She wanted the colors to seem as though they were lit from within instead of merely flat.

Even with the simplest costumes, there was a great deal of thought and detail invested. “I loved Jack’s little sweater that I had knit with the concept that his mother wasn’t a very good knitter so she couldn’t get the stripes right.” Atwood loved dressing all the characters. They were all a challenge in their own way, but it was exciting for her to embrace the process.

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