Celebrity Interviews / Disney / Entertainment

Exclusive Interview with Award Winning Costume Designer Colleen Atwood #IntoTheWoodsEvent

Updated September 4, 2015

Disclosure: Disney is providing me with an all expense paid trip to LA to the #IntoTheWoodsEvent and #ABCFamilyEvent featured in this post to facilitate my review. All opinions are 100% mine and not influenced in any way.

Colleen Atwood

Do you ever look at the costumes when watching a movie? The great detail and lengths it took to make each one fascinates me. While I was visiting LA last month I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with the Award Winning Costume Designer Colleen Atwood.  Not only did she design the costumes for Into the Woods, she also designed for Silence of the Lambs, Edward Scissorhands, and Alice in Wonderland (coming soon) just to name a few. Colleen helps make these films come to life with the art she creates in her designs.

Colleen Atwood sketches

Q: What is your process when designing costumes?

Colleen Atwood: Every project starts with a story. I get the phone call and the script and read the script. Sometimes you see things right away and other times it is a different process.  The next step is usually meeting with the director and having a conversation about what he’s thinking and what vision he wants for the story.

The next step is to research, design, and costume textile development – which I’m huge on because I love the craft. Once I put them together I present them to the director and actors. Before I give them the costumes, I usually try to meet with them and show them my ideas so if they have something they don’t like, they can object to it. I kind of figure it out there and sort of talk to them about it. To get to the heart of what their feeling is and then I start the actual making of the costumes and fittings and that process.”

Q:This film had so many amazing characters and costumes to go with the characters, which was your favorite to work on?

Colleen Atwood: You know, it’s kind of like children, it’s a weird question to ask, because I never like one. One day some of them are definitely not my favorites (laughing) but I had a great time with Meryl’s costume because of the textile art that was involved in it. And it involved not just my ideas, but the hands of a lot of really talented people, mainly women. Each costume has a different beat, so it’s fun.

Q: You compared the costumes to being “like your children”. Do you cringe a little bit when they’re wearing these amazing designs and the actors are falling down a hill or tripping over things, and the costumes are getting destroyed?

Colleen Atwood: You know, I like the costumes to look a little bit worn, so it doesn’t bother me. I cringe on a different level like if I don’t have enough of them to be destroyed (laughing). But I don’t cringe on an artistic level at all.

Q: Has there ever been a costume that you were stumped on?

Colleen Atwood: If there is ever a costume that stumps me, it would be the last one. And it’s a weird thing, it’s like psychological, you don’t want to let go of that costume or something, it’s like the baby of the family. (laughing) I get more anxiety about that than the first one, you know, it’s funny.

bakers wife costume

Q: Whose costume would you say involved the most from your first thought to the finished product and why?

Colleen Atwood: Well I’d say Emily’s because she was pregnant. (laughing) It changed the most out of any costume. She came to work after a weekend and I swear she’d grown like two or three inches. And so I was continually modifying her costume because her bust and belly were getting bigger – even though she was incredibly small for how pregnant she was. Thank goodness she was in an apron from the start. (laughing)

Q: I read that Meryl went to school for costume design, so did she have any input or involvement in her costumes?

Colleen Atwood: Well there’s not an aspect of a character development that Meryl isn’t involved in. (laughing) She is Meryl Streep. In fact she understands costumes really well, which doesn’t mean she designs them on any level, but she feels them. And she embraced all the textiles and stuff in a way that somebody that really knew what it took to make it appreciated it. So it was a really gratifying collaboration to, you know, not only work with someone of her kind of amazing talent.

Meryl was really great with the stitchers as she actually acknowledged they existed, which is really nice for the people who make the costumes. A lot of times, I try to like get the actors to kind of walk through when it’s done, just to give them that gratification. But they’re reluctant to do it, and Meryl was just so kind and generous in that way.

meryl streep witch costume

Q: You mentioned that a lot of your inspiration came from the woods, forest, light, and the dark. But Meryl Streep’s costume was very blue. Why did you choose blues?

Colleen Atwood: Well the reason, you know, as a writer pointed out to me, since it was the blue moon, I go yeah, that’s like the blue witch, the blue moon. Since the film is so dark I didn’t want to use black. It’s really easy for the black to just turn into a flat blob with the digital photography and the lighting.

And then when the transformation happened, we just went to the blue. We wanted the blue – the blue hair, the blue dress. Everything matched. The hair, nails, dress, and jewelry – everything was blue. And she thought, you know, that would make her the kind of beauty that her teenage daughter would embrace.

Colleen just finished working on Disney’s New Alice in Wonderland: Through The Looking Glass. It is the sequel to the 2010 film and will be in theaters May 27, 2016.

When you see the movie Into the Woods pay attention to the costumes to see the amazing detail Colleen has put into each one.


Read about Into the Woods Facts, Interviews, and more…..

Into the Woods Review
“Into The Woods” Interview with Meryl Streep, Tracey Ullman, & Christine Baranski
Into the Woods Fun Facts
Emily Blunt and James Corden Interview
Ann Kendrick and Rob Marshall Interview


Visit the Disney Into the Woods website!

And be sure to “Like” Into the Woods on Facebook ,  Follow @IntotheWoods on Twitter  (#IntoTheWoods), Tumblr, and  Pinterest!

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