Q&A: “Dark Shadows” costume designer on dressing Johnny Depp and Eva Green
We chat with Colleen Atwood, the three-time Oscar-winning costume designer, about Tim Burton’s latest movie, “Dark Shadows,” and why “you can’t go wrong with something like a camp vampire.”
How does your relationship with Tim Burton work in terms of design and idea development?
We discuss the characters, the script and the mood of the movie to start with. I pull fabrics and resources and research potential ideas to take to Tim. Following that, I start making the clothes, doing fittings with the actors and photographing them. Once we get to the second fitting, he gets involved and we start on hair and make-up for a camera test.
What was the biggest challenge with this movie?
It’s set across the Seventies with a huge nod to the Eighteenth century, so we had to play across those two time periods. It was important to keep a sense of fun and humor with a gothic quality. There’s a little more color than you’d expect for this kind of movie and that’s kind of a reflection on the Seventies take.
Was it difficult trying to create continuity between the two time periods?
Well, actually it was quite funny because there are elements like the collars that lived in the Seventies and Eighteenth century, so I exaggerated them in both eras to tie it together.
How she dressed…
Eva Green, who plays a sexy witch
“Tim’s quote for Eva was ‘like a Virginia slims [cigarettes] ad’, that kind of empowered woman. She’s operating in a man’s world, so she’s really sexy. In her first intro costume, she’s wearing a really chic kind of quasi Seventies [Yves] Saint Laurent pantsuit. But it’s a bit more of an aggressive fit.”
Johnny Depp, who plays Vampira Barnabas
“His character is a real nod to the original TV series with elegant decadence. I didn’t try to copy the look but we thought that the cape coat that Barnabus wears in the series was a really strong renaissance piece. But where they [the series] referenced the Sixties, we harkened back to the Eighteenth century with the collar and made it more grand.”
Michelle Pfeiffer and Chloë Moretz, who play the 1970s mother and daughter respectively
“The Collins family is penniless aristocracy but Michelle [Pfeiffer] who plays Elizabeth Collins [Stoddard] harkens back to a bygone era in her dress, behavior and manners. Whereas her daughter Carolyn [Chloë Moretz] is sassy, all knowing and listening to rock ‘n’ roll – and getting ready for the decade ahead of her.”
- Richard Peckett