Six years after Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland premiered, we returned to Underland for the enchanting sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass. Colleen Atwood, the award winning costume designer from the original film, reprised her role to outfit the eccentric cast. We had the opportunity to chat with her about where she found inspiration, what it was like working with the cast, and on bringing new designs to life.
On returning to this whimsical world:
It was shocking, especially after I did the math and realized I’d been gone for so long. It felt just like yesterday! I went back through the first movie’s costume drawings, as well as read the new Alice screenplay. I really used Alice as a starting point, and drew inspiration from where she’d been. I got very excited with the idea she had traveled the world!
While listening to Colleen Atwood’s experience working with this cast of incredible actors, we quickly realized how much fun those fittings must have been. Since the characters have so much physical movement, she partnered very closely with them to ensure their costumes wouldn’t negatively impact their blocking in any way. She told us that there were “lots of laughs along the journey” with Mia, Helena, Sacha, and the whole cast!
On designing for Alice Through the Looking Glass versus Alice in Wonderland:
I really see it as a totally different movie. It’s the same people, but a very different story. It was like picking up where I left off, and then moving the characters forward in time based on their experiences.
On the film’s most intricate costume:
Time’s was amazing, yet a very challenging concept to convey without wearing a clock costume. His costume is comprised of so many pieces—the pantaloons, boots, hat, shoulder piece with hand embroidery along the edges. We designed a watch jewelry piece for his hands made of old chainmail. We found vintage watches and tore them apart to use faces because they had a convex pop-like jewel but with watch inside.
On creating a central theme through all of the character’s costumes:
Subliminally, I think I focused on striking graphic silhouettes that kept them true to the larger-than-life world of Underland. For Alice and the Hatter, I used much more joyous and bright colors. Conversely, the Queens and Time had a very subdued color palette of black, white, and red. It created a great contrast to the other characters.
We asked Colleen which costume was her favorite, but she couldn’t pick just one! She said she “had a great time with Alice’s first costume [in the movie] because of the embroidery.” It was the first costume she did, so it really sticks out in her mind.
Alice Through the Looking Glass is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Disney Movies Anywhere.