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7 Questions With The Woman Who Dresses Johnny Depp For A Living

Oscar-Winning Costume Designer Colleen Atwood is also responsible for making Amber Heard look unreasonably stunning in The Rum Diary.

Alice in Wonderland. Nine. Little Women. Married to the Mob. Edward Scissorhands. These are just a few of the projects that Colleen Atwood has made even more memorable via her wildly creative eye and skilled hand. This weekend, you can check out her latest work in the The Rum Diary, a riotous big-screen version of the Hunter S. Thompson novel set in Cuba circa 1960, starring Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Read on to hear what Atwood (who is currently putting the finishing costume touches on the lavish Snow White and The Huntsman, out next year) had to say about dressing such horrible eyesores….

1. Amber Heard’s character Chenault is so chic. What inspired her look?
We started with that glamorous late ’50s early ’60s style, which is so classic and perfect for her. I love the old Irving Penn photographs from that period. The world that I surrounded Amber with was a huge contrast to her because it was more of the Eisenhower ’50s and she was sort of the future: a bit cleaner, chicer lines, more modern. I loved that everyone was sweaty and wilted except her and few of the extremely wealthy people that had constant AC. She’s stunning, and she wears clothes exceptionally well, so it was a treat to get to dress her.

2. How did you approach Johnny’s character?
For menswear, it’s a really great period. The suits fit all kinds of body types and, without being too fitted at the waist, still have a shape. A narrow lapel has always been a favorite of mine. In Johnny’s case, we kept it very simple. His character has a slightly Midwestern meets southern style that is very American and not at all European. His clothes are fairly stiff, but they kind of wilt in the heat, so it feels more relaxed. His stuff was all made out of this ’60s cotton. I found enough of it to make all of his trousers and suits. I was able to find some authentic fabrics for his clothes which helped him get into the feeling of the period.

3. Does he have a real point-of-view when it comes to his character’s clothing?
He’s not really dogmatic about. He really feels clothes more than he looks at them. You know, we had these great sunglasses for him and his hair was kind of squished back and the guy came to life! It usually happens pretty quickly with Johnny. He has this feeling for who his character is.

4. I imagine that you had a smaller budget with this film than a lot of the others you’ve worked on. Were you restricted in any way?
It was a really tight budget, so we used things over and over, like in the crowd shots. Amber didn’t have a lot of clothes so were able to create all of her clothes. Luckily, I had a lot of old fabrics that I had saved over the years and I was able to use a few of them in the movie. Her white lace dress was a fabric that I’d been hoarding for a few years, and the red chiffon dress was a piece of chiffon—just the most perfect red—that I hadn’t done anything with yet.

5. Do you have a closet packed with fabric?
No, I’m a minimalist so I have a nice storage space. I don’t like all that stuff around my house. When I go home I have a really Zen house.

6. In terms of your own personal style, what do you like to wear?

My favorite thing to wear is pajamas.

7. Apparently pajama pants are back right now, so maybe you’re in style?
Yeah, really. That’s my big treat, to wear pajamas for a whole day. It’s like my dream.


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