On Costumes and Characters: Colleen Atwood Speaks at Pre-BAFTA Master Class
Imagine for a moment that the costumes for Newt Scamander and Percival Graves were switched. Imagine our first sight of Newt, but instead of the slightly ill-fitting suit and unusual blue of his coat, he was smartly dressed in the imposing silhouette of a broad-shouldered black coat and well-tailored suit. Would your first impression of him, your expectations of the character and his behavior, be different? Could Graves be as imposing and authoritative dressed in browns and dark teal?
Costume designer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Colleen Atwood has to take many things into account when crafting what’s in a character’s closet, and at the Swarovski Costume Designer Master Class pre-BAFTA event, she spoke on what drove her design choices for the magical world in 1920s New York.
I have a more minimalistic sensibility, so the rawness of New York in the Twenties really drew me in.
The principle actors don’t change costumes, so you have to create something that you are happy looking at – for over an hour and a half. It has to be interesting, but you can’t over design. You have to play with color and texture instead.
She made certain magical characters, like Tina and Queenie, blend in with the crowd to convey the idea that witches and wizards were very concerned with discovery and its consequences, a great fear for most of the wizarding community. However, with Graves, Atwood had to reflect his disdain for this “hiding in plain sight” and his feelings of superiority over the No-Mag population. His clothing is striking without being too outlandish, with exaggerated shoulders and graphic contrasts.
He was all about high wizardry. I wanted his character to have a real edge, so the costume is all about graphic definition.
Atwood has said that in order to design an appropriate costume for a character, you have to understand that character. How well do you feel she understood the characters in Fantastic Beasts? Would you have made different choices for Queenie, Jacob, or Credence? Let us know your thoughts below!