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Costume Design: Eva Green's Costume in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is for the Birds

Colleen Atwood is the three time Oscar winning costume designer behind Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children—one of her trio of wins was for Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, the other two being Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago. A heavyweight in the industry, Atwood was also nominated for the Burton’s Sleepy Hollow and Sweeney Todd. The pair has a long, healthy working relationship. Harper’s BAZAAR sat down with Ms Atwood to talk about working on Miss P. which I've nabbed for you here. As she's also the costume designer for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them (whatever happened to short titles meant to fit easily on a movie marquee?) I thought my fellow book2movie fans might find it especially interesting.

From Harper’s Bazaar

HB: Are there certain challenges that stem from working on an adaptation versus an original story?

Colleen Atwood: Not particularly, because you’re going off a screen play, which is already what my starting point is, then the original story is sort of a reference but not where I’m going from. It’s helpful, but because it’s a departure, it doesn’t really change what I would probably do.

[my translation: I didn’t read the bloody book. The author didn’t pay me, the studio did.]

HB: What is the inspiration behind Miss Peregrine’s character?

Colleen Atwood: Miss Peregrine’s gift—or her peculiarity—is to change into a bird, a Peregrine falcon, so I looked at pictures of the particular bird, which has almost a shoulder in its own way. Eva and I talked and we decided it would be great to have her shoulder be a pointed shoulder, and she felt like the character was kind of spiky anyway. So we did a pointed shoulder and an elongated, almost Edwardian shape to the jacket, with little points in the back that are sort of like bird tail feathers. I kept the skirt sort of straight with a trumpet at the bottom so it would move and flutter in the wind. 

I was trying to get a feeling of air and the bird quality without screaming "bird" or doing it in a bird print or something, and then inside the box pleat at the shoulder is an embroidered feather. It’s embroidered in a metallic thread and a blue silk that adds a little more color and kind of kicks the light when it hits the light. This was based on the idea that wild animals tend to have a little splash of color here and there, but it’s under their wings or something. It’s an indicator of breed and what not, but other [species] don’t really know.

HB: Did Eva Green have any input into her character's costumes?

CA: I always show the sketch to her and the fabrics and everything ahead of time so she knows where she’s going with it, but she doesn’t hand me anything to copy or anything like that.

HB: I know you did some 3D-printing in the second Huntsman film. How has technology changed your job?

CA: It’s enabled me to take some ideas I had that would have been really hard to do because of the time it takes to manufacture jewelry and things like that, and make it so I could do it faster and also I could do the multiples I need without incurring massive costs. It was very good that way. The whole switch from film to digital has changed some of the ways I use color and the juxtaposition of light and dark. It’s getting better with digital, the separation’s gotten better, but I still feel like it’s really flatter than film, so I do a lot of screening and subtle textural printing and painting on clothes for film to get it not to look flat. It’s a little trick for the camera. Eva’s blue suit in Peregrine for instance has got sponge-painting, different tonalities and different colors, just to break up the surface so it isn’t just one flat surface.

HB: You’re Tim Burton’s go-to costume designer. How does working with him differ from other projects?

CA: It’s always a special journey with Tim because he’s an artist as well as a director. It’s really great to collaborate with him and be in his amazing visual world. Because I’ve done it so many times I always try to bring new things to him to get him excited and change it up and keep it fresh, even though we’ve done a lot of things together.

We’ll take a look at how Atwood approached designing the clothes for the Peculiar Children mañana.