Colleen Atwood on the Coats and Hats of “Fantastic Beasts”
We’re still completely in love with the costumes from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (those coats!), so we always jump at a chance to hear something from Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood. Having previously been nominated for 11 Oscars, winning three of them, we’re not surprised that Atwood received another nod at this year’s Oscars for Fantastic Beasts (the film is also nominated for Production Design). And the costumes for the film had everything you could have asked for: period 1920s clothing, brilliant, sweeping coats, and a lot of magical quirks and charm.
In a new interview, Atwood spoke about her inspiration behind the costumes and the in-depth research that she did into the period.
I looked at old reels of Jimmy Walker, who was the mayor of New York around that time, and his sort of people, and then a lot of stuff from the Museum of the City of New York, which is a very good reference for New York City. I went back, I looked earlier at Ellis Island stuff, and I looked forwards into the ’30s, just quirky things.
I had a lot of weird photo albums, like pictures of college girls. It was a really different time for women. Women were really finally out there a lot more than they’d ever been before. It was fun research because you actually had photographs of people living life, instead of formal photographs. It’s really an exciting period of photography. I went a little bit later with Berenice Abbott and some of those New York photographers, for working people and things like that.
Atwood further spoke about how she sourced the costumes and searched America for many of the costumes while also revealing how she chose the color for Newt’s iconic coat.
The thing is, a lot of [Scamander’s] creatures had sort of luminescent color, and I wanted him to have a sense of being one with them, but not standing out, like he’s in some neon outfit in the middle of the street. I came to this blue with a lot of green in it, and it has a little bit of brown undertones. It’s an interesting blue because in different light, it photographs differently. I didn’t want it to pop too much, and I played with it a little bit.
With Newt’s costume, the shape of the coat developed with the character.
We played with the shape of it a lot, that coat, because Eddie squats down on his case a lot—does a lot of up and down movement—and he has a sideways gait to him that he evolved for Newt. It’s almost like an animal walk, in a way. I really wanted something that served him, too, and we did a lot of rehearsals with it to make sure it all worked for him, with his acting.
But of course, it wasn’t only the coats that stood out in the film – there were some remarkable hats and headpieces. Seraphina’s, for instance…
She wears a turban the rest of the time, just to set her apart from people. I wanted her to have this sort of tribal beauty to her but also feel powerful. The back of that’s kind of a turban, but the front’s a huge kind of garden crown, and it gave her scale. She was in quite a huge room for that shot…I mean, it added probably ten inches to her height. Not to mention the shoes I had on her, but just to give her a very vertical and powerful sense in a room of powerful people.
We certainly loved Seraphina’s breathtaking outfit!
You can read the full interview, with plenty more details and information about the costume design in Fantastic Beasts here. If you still want to know more, you can watch an interview with Atwood below.
We wish Atwood all the best at the upcoming Oscars and keep our fingers crossed for a Fantastic Beasts win!
Are you hoping to see Atwood take home the Oscar for Costume Design? What were your favorite costumes in the film? Let us know in the comments.