Apr 25, 2017 | By Jaime Cohn-Barr
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I got a chance to check out the preview of“Alice Through the Looking Glass” coming out on May 27 and had a chat with the costume designer on how she went about creating clothes for this film at the Vulture Festival. Colleen Atwood has already won 3 Academy Awards for her 2010 “Alice in Wonderland” live-action movie, “Memoirs of a Geisha” and “Chicago.” Atwood has had a strong relationship with Tim Burton including everything from “Edward Scissorhands,” “Big Eyes,” “Ed Wood” and “Mars Attacks!” Needless to say, she has a quite impressive resume on her hands.
Animation has changed drastically throughout the years from the early 20th century’s stop-motion animation to Disney’s first successful full length animated feature Snow White in 1937 to the first fully computer-animated film Toy Story in 1995. Fast-forward to 2016, the world of CGI perfection seamlessly blending into live-action costumes and design. Atwood described how she still has to swatch, design and create garments for actors who are almost entirely CGIed in the film to make sure the movement is correct and workable in real life. 3D printing is also being used more and more within costume design, especially within jewellery and accessories, as Atwood explained.
Atwood digs deep into research for all her designs whether it be referencing Lewis Carrol’s original books to studying Japanese design, allowing herself to cross-pollinate the past with the relevance of today. Her main focus was Alice’s embroidered gown with hidden matching pants as it was worn throughout most of the film with or without the collar.
Mia Wasikowska who plays Alice has a lot of movement throughout her role, so her costumes are always kept practical with pants disguised as a dresses and shoes she can run in. As Alice is coming off of a voyage to China, it made sense to have her key piece be bold and bright inspired by her travels. For Alice’s gown she used influences from China’s Imperial period with intricate embroideries and construction. As time is limited in production these days, the textile department had to hand-embroider 60 yards of blue silk to create her vision of true vintage Chinese silk as the film is set in the past. If you look closely, you can even see small bunnies, hats and the letter A on the center tunic finished off with gold Indonesian wedding crown trinkets.
Be sure to check out the film to see all the other amazing costumes from Sacha Baron Cohen’s intimidating, yet humorous Time costume to Iracebeth’s Red Queen armored costume to all the transitions of Alice Chinese silk gown. Look out for inspiration coming from these designs from girlswear into womens as all her other costumes have done in the past.
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