Sunday, August 12, 2012

All Dressed Up and Somewhere to Go

Beverly Singer from THE LONG STITCH GOODNIGHT, by Amanda Lee

I'm a costume designer, although you've probably never heard of me. I'll bet you have heard of Colleen Atwood, though. She's the Academy Award-winning costume designer responsible for the creations in Alice in Wonderland, Edward Scissorhands, Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha, and most recently, Snow White and the Huntsman.

My daughter Marcy and I went to see Snow White and the Huntsman the last time I was in Tallulah Falls. I particularly wanted to see the movie because I knew how much work Colleen had put into the costumes, particularly those of Ravenna, the evil queen.

Take this gown, for example: This was Ravenna's wedding gown. She wore it when she married Snow White's father, the king. Although it is a beautiful dress, Colleen wanted all of Ravenna's costumes to hint at death and the evil that was within her. See the skeletal cage around her shoulders?

For one of the costumes--a blue dress--Colleen incorporated the wings of beetles which are eaten in Thailand. In an interview with Collider, Colleen said, "Fabric-wise the blue dress was really difficult because the beetles were really, really hard and really brittle, so it took us a while to figure out how to drill through them and use them. They were really sharp too so you couldn't have them in places where they rubbed against anyone's body because they could really cut you."

So the next time you go to the movies, take a moment to consider the costumes...and us--the costume designers. The symbolism might not be as apparent in other movies as it is in Snow White and the Huntsman, but I guarantee you that if the costuming is off, the movie won't work as well.

Please don't think I'm a whiner, though. Even though costuming can be hard work, we do get to dress people like this guy. *Sigh*

So, did you see Snow White and the Huntsman? If so, what did you think of the costumes? If not, what's another movie where the costumes blew you away?


  1. Wow, intriguing! I think I'll stick to sequins and rhinestones, though, and leave those beetles for others.

  2. Amanda:

    Now I know why I enjoyed your book so much! It didn't register at first that you are also a costume designer, but it makes a lot of sense now!

    I know the world whereof you speak, as I am a theatrical dresser in the Seattle area, although mostly for live theater, not movies. I am a great cheerleader for those of you who are real, live designers. I am but a poor dresser, but I have more fun than a girl deserves doing the work when it is offered.

    I haven't seen "Snow White" yet but intend to, especially after hearing about your friend's beetle woes. The creativity of costumers never ceases to amaze me, whether I am an audience member or up close and personal admiring the costumes I put on people.

    Keep writing! Can't wait for your next book.
    Sarah Gunning Moser