If you’ve been following along on the ‘gram, then you know that last week I had the pleasure of attending a truly amazing event: A mad-hatter themed tea party at the Lambs’ Club that included a roudtable interview with award-winning costume designer, Colleen Atwood. If you haven’t seen Alice Through the Looking Glass yet, then you definitely need to get on it (and I’ve got a special giveaway to help you out). The film picks up 6 years after our heroine’s first adventure, and I took my outfit queues from the opening scene which features Alice commanding her own ship while wearing a sharp captain’s military coat.
For the past 20 years Colleen Atwood’s work has blazed across the big screen in a number of films, including Alice in Wonderland, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Beloved, Edward Scissor Hands, The Silence of the Lambs, Snow White and the Huntsman, and many more.
One of the most interesting things I learned during our talk was that she got her start in costume design much later in life – after having child and working in several other jobs. Originally, she wanted to become an artist, but had to sacrifice her dream for a more stable career in order to support her daughter on her own. Once her daughter was in college, Colleen set off for NYC with $500 in her pockets and along the way discovered her passion and innate talent for costume design.
Talk about an incredible story! Hearing her journey reminded me how we only seem to ask children what they want to be when they grow up. However, the growing process doesn’t stop once you become an adult, and it’s never too late to discover what your true passion is in life and to become wildly successful at it.
The level of thoughtfulness, detail, and craftmanship that goes into all of Colleen’s work was very-apparent in all of the costume designs in Through the Looking Glass. One interesting thing to note is that Alice’s character wore pants throughout the entire film – signaling her role as a strong and adventurist heroine who was always ready for action. Alice’s chinese-inspired tunic on the right would have been a daring and unusual choice at the time for a society event, but it showed Alice’s strong sense of individuality, confidence and boldness and her ease at shirking the traditional conventions while harkening to her overseas journeys that undouetedly shaped her character and world-view.
When I asked Colleen what her advice would be to someone who wanted to follow their dreams and break into a creative industry, her advice was simple, but thoughtful: Always be willing to work your hardest and let people know what it is you want to do. Even if you have to start by sweeping floors on set, stay late and volunteer to help wherever it’s needed and be vocal about what other areas of interest you have. When the time comes, and someone needs help (and that time will definitely come), you’ll be first in line when you’re remembered as a hardworker who’s always willing to step in.
In addition to a wonderful and insightful interview with Colleen we were are also treated to plenty of cocktails and fabulous Alice-inspired manicures. And of course I couldn’t resist a Queen of Hearts accent nail to compliment my outfit!
All-in-all, I had a blast, but the fun doesn’t end just yet…