Interview: Alice Through the Looking Glass Costume Designer Colleen Atwood

Earlier last month I joined Disney and famed designer Colleen Atwood for tea and a chance to talk about her work on Alice Through the Looking Glass, which has recently been released to DVD and Blu-Ray! I’ve been a fan of her work for a while, she has such an inspiring story and has designed for some of my most favorite movies including Edward Scissorhands, Little Women, Planet of the Apes (2001 movie), Big Fish, Memoirs of a Geisha, Into the Woods, The Huntsman movies, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and of course both of the Alice in Wonderland films.

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She’s so lovely in person, and I was so thrilled that I was able to, along with other bloggers and press, ask her a few questions.

Q: Are there any secret locations or places where you find inspiration?

Colleen Atwood: Well I find them everywhere, like fabric stores – sometimes I see a piece of fabric that’s great and I go “oh! That could be this!”. I get ideas from all over the place basically. There’s a great flea market in France, in Paris, that I go to in the north of Paris and it’s always great for inspiration for bits and pieces that are interesting. So many movies are made in London – this movie is made in London -and London has Portobello Road [flea market]. Which, sometimes I don’t really have a purpose in mind, I just get up early on Saturday morning and go there when it first opens, before it gets crowded and wander around and find like – he has a lot of weird buttons on his costume and most of those are sourced there and you know, old hat pins, just weird stuff people have in trays in front of their stalls and it’s fun to just discover things that way.

Q: Any favorite flea markets in New York?

CA: You know in New York I like the – and I meditated on going down there this morning – the one on 26th street, it’s like a garage you walk through and I love wandering around there. And there’s the emporium there that has some great stuff so I usually visit there. And there’s a great lingerie place there that’s beautiful, upstairs, it’s quite expensive but she has great stuff. There’s a few places, sort of warehouse wholesale, that I’ve gone to in Brooklyn but they’re not as accessible to people who are just walking around and shopping.

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Q: Time has a really distinct costume, what was your inspiration or thought process behind that?

CA: I wanted him to be, kind of feel like he was something to do with a clock without literally being a clock. And I also loved the sort of graphic aspect of the clock kind of towering over little Alice, luckily Sacha’s [Baron Cohen, who plays Time] already about 6’3”-6’4” so that helped that I didn’t get a short guy for the part. But I put him in really high platform boots for part of it, and then he has those long thin legs so we did long skinny legs and a poufy pant and the big shoulders to get him wider, sort of like a grandfather clock. And then we came up with an idea to get him even taller with using a tall hat on him like the bishop’s sort of medieval hat that he has, sort of like a Greek Orthodox style from way early in time. And in his fitting for that we had brown paper and we just kept putting it in different hat shapes and trying them on him and figuring out which one was the best for him and for Time, and we came up with that one and it was sort of maximum height. We had some that were taller but it was too much, it almost made him look shorter. In the movie you see on his hand he has a thing that has all these rings and stuff – that was a piece of metal mesh that I found in a flea market and then I found all these watches with convex lenses on them that stuck out so that they were like cabochon jewels, so we took those and made them into his hand piece to make it a sort of element of time. And the rest was all kinds of stuff, different materials. We had a long cape on him and then most of the time he wore the short cape because it made him look funnier with his skinny legs.

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Q: Movement is such a big part of this film, you chose to use very different textures in the fabric. Was that something that you just felt, touched it, and knew that this would be a great dynamic on the screen?

CA: I’ve done a lot of digital films at this point and know kind of what the camera sees, and especially when you go darker than a medium ground, it’s really important to have a texture and almost like a surface that has a little shine to it that kicks back some light. Otherwise all you get is sort of a black shape, you don’t really get much depth. So I’ve learned to paint into costumes, and add layers, add stuff to them to give it more dimension that way it’ll work in a lower light situation. So I use that trick a lot on this movie and I like texture, I think it tricks the camera in a way that’s interesting because sometimes you can’t even perceive what it is but it gives you a feeling that’s nice and a little bit more interesting than if you had just used a fabric as it comes off the peg.

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Q: Obviously designing for a sequel is going to be a lot different than the first time, what was your approach when you were revisited these characters and kind of built of the way that you already had designed for them?

CA: I felt like it was nice, I felt like I knew them. I knew who they were as people so I felt like I could have a little more play with them. I had a couple more opportunities because we had the flashback for the girls, where they were there kind of their teenaged selves, and then each of them had been on a journey. My constant was, other than her flashback, was Mirana – the Anne Hathaway character – her costume sort of remained the same. But Alice, when we left Alice she was going off to see the world and she came back as a very rare thing, a sea captain as a woman, so I had the opportunity to take the beautiful uniforms of the period and make one for her. Then we had to create her Chinese look from her Chinese journey, and then re-visit something that perhaps the Hatter had made for her in her final costume with the balloon pants and the kind of whimsical blouse made out of strips of fabric. So I kind of took each character and sort of felt like I could go free with them, it was sort of like a totally new movie for me as a designer but with the people that I knew from before.

Q: Is there one character from the movie that stands out as being the most enjoyable to design?

CA: Well, when you get a movie like this they’re all fun! Because they’re all such different things. I mean I love Helena’s costume and her take on the character is so much fun, and it was great to get to do her armor which I really loved doing with the thorn heart chest piece, and the military braid hoop and the sort of deconstructed military madness that the Red Queen would come up with. Mia’s clothes were great; I mean they were like a really beautiful journey. I got to use embroidery and all sorts of techniques that I hadn’t used before on the Alice prequel.

Listen to the entire interview here!

Alice Through the Looking Glass released to DVD and Blu-Ray on October 18th, if you don’t own it yet then it would make a great gift this holiday season! Alice Through the Looking Glass is a spectacular adventure featuring the unforgettable characters from Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories in which Alice returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter.

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Enter to win your own copy of Alice Through the Looking Glass right now – just leave me a comment about your favorite outfit in the movie, or if you haven’t seen it, is there anything you found interesting that Colleen revealed in her interview? Personally, I loved when she spoke about creating Time’s outfit – the amount of detail is really incredible! Leave an extra comment/entry if you RT this!

*Giveaway ends 11/23/16. US, 18+.

Progresso Artisan Soups Premiers at the DUMBO Arts Festival!

*This post is a part of my work with Progresso, however all opinions are completely honest and my own. For more information please see the PR tab above. Thank you!

Many of you already know that art is a huge part of my life, so I was so excited to take my sister (who is an artist herself) to this year’s Dumbo Arts Festival! The Dumbo Arts Festival is a yearly occurrence which highlights “Brooklyn’s commitment to and presence in the arts community by presenting the best in local, national, and international art amid the breathtaking backdrop of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline.” It’s open to the public and draws quite a number of visitors.

We wandered around a bit looking at different installments and pieces. My favorite was the giant blown up heart – in fact a lot of visitors were stopping to take pictures of the piece. With the breathtaking nighttime skyline of the city, the DAF was definitely an event that I feel anybody who can, should go.

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A lot of people were checking out a alternative artisan creation – and that would be Progresso’s new line of Artisan Soups! Progresso was offering DAF-goers a chance to taste all of the soups from their new line, including Creamy Tomato with Roasted Red Peppers, Masala Curry Butternut Squash, Rustic Tomato with Chicken and Dumplings, Creamy Potato with Sausage and Kale, and Smoky White Bean and Winter Vegetables.

Progresso at DAF

Festival goers also walked away with coupons for the soup too! My sister and I chatted with a lot of people and they were really really enthusiastic about the soups, many of them went back on line for seconds. I can’t wait to share with you my thoughts about each individual soup – so look out for that later this month!

Progresso Artisan Soups at Dumbo Arts Festival

Soup in hand, we walked over to Jane’s Carousel where we attended the opening night party. The hors d’oeuvre’s were nice but we really just wanted more soup, lol! We did ride a couple of times on the carousel – if you ever find yourself in the city you should make a point of riding on Jane’s Carousel. It was so magical to be able to stare out over the water to the lights of the city – I feel like if it isn’t already an iconic New York City thing to do, than it should be.

Jane's CarouselBrooklyn Bridge ParkJane's Carousel in Brooklyn

To find out more about Progresso’s NEW Artisan Soups, click here!

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Cape May: West End Garage

One hot Sunday, my sister and I decided to walk from where we were staying on Beach Ave. to Sunset Beach in Cape May Point. It was kind of hot and humid out, but we’d packed lunch and iced tea so we were pretty confident that we could walk the three miles there in good time. Along the way we stopped in at West End Garage.

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My sister’s an artist, and I have a love of beautiful things so it made sense for us to stop in.

At first I thought they just sold local art – but while my sister was exploring the gorgeous Cape May paintings I wandered towards the back where I found loads of handcrafted items as well as many many antiques and original pieces.

It’s really a lot bigger than it looks like from the outside!

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Candles! I own loads of Bath & Body Works candles, and couldn’t resist checking out these original pieces of wax art! How cool is the giant R2D2 and Yoda!

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It’s an old-school typewriter! I dream of one day collecting these, I don’t have the space right now so my secret desire shall have to wait, lol!

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What the…?

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They do sell a lot of clothes and fashionable pieces, as well as glass created by local artisans, but I’m more interested in the older things – which West End is full of!

Lot’s of interesting finds… Including a working 1800′s brass ship compass, and an Artillary Casing from the USS Dubuque (1975) that apparently was collected by a sailor from the Dubuque while it was operating in Vietnam. Also, a set of vintage steer horns in pretty good condition.

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Mugs from Tiffany’s!

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I kind of regret not getting this Forget Me Not cup, I really wanted it but talked myself out of it at the last minute – and it was only $3.99! I just didn’t want it to break on our way back.

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Okay, so get this in West End we snapped a pic of this glass case and on closer inspection we found something pretty fan-freaking-tastic:

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Closer inspection:

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Somewhere stuffed in there is a rare 1935 edition Johnny Gruelle illustration (for $24). Well, Johnny Gruelle was an American artist, political cartoonist, and children’s book author and illustrator. He also happens to be known as the creator of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy! How crazy is that? If I had known then, I totally would have snapped it up!

Look at this 1952 magazine – aren’t her lashes amazing?!

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I had such a great time exploring the West End Garage and definitely plan on returning sometime in the future! Click here to visit their website and for more information.

The Creativity Comeback with Creative Can!

Did you know that children’s creativity test scores have been declining since 1990? A study of Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking has measured a steady decline in creativity and we could be facing a creativity crisis. To combat lack of creativity, Creativity for Kids  has introduced the Creativity Can. What it is is relatively simple, it’s a free program designed to put simple materials into the hands of children and challenge them to imagine, create, and share.

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I love the idea of the Creativity Can – and recently I put Jules to create something magnificent and creative with a Creativity Can of her own! Here’s what she created:

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It’s Rembrandt! We went to the MET about a year ago to see a special exhibit featuring Rembrandt and his works – and this is what she masterfully pulled together.

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I think it bares a startling resemblance, lol!

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To check out the Creativity Can program, click here. To find out where the closest participating retailer is click here.

I think programs like the Creativity Can have a lot of potential – and I feel like encouraging creativity and using kinetic learning is a worthwhile goal. However I did notice that while I was searching for Creativity Can distributors in the NYC area, the distributors existed primarily in more affluent neighborhoods, as opposed to the areas of higher need. I would recommend that Creativity Can would extend their program to more areas – I feel like such a wonderful program could really be beneficial to many children who lack creative stimulation.

* Update: Creativity for Kids has let me know that Creativity for Kids is using its existing channels of specialty toy retailers to distribute the free can and that no purchase is necessary. This effort is just the first prong of a multi-year campaign to raise awareness about the drop in creativity, encourage a national discussion and search for a solution. Creativity for Kids is looking to further expand this effort.

My Latest Obsession: Litographs!


Content Disclosure It’s not too often that I stumble upon the perfect gift – and by perfect I mean, it’s a gift that pretty much everybody I know would completely and absolutely love. Because most everybody I know loves to read, and my closest friends and family happen to be serious fans of all the classics, I feel like Litographs has scored a prime spot on my personal gifting guide.

What is Litographs? I’m glad you asked, because they’re pretty much the coolest thing ever. Litograph’s was started by this guy name Danny, Danny loves books and had this amazing idea to translate that love of books onto prints (posters) and t-shirts! How cool is that? I was lucky enough to receive an Alice in Wonderland t-shirt, and The Secret Garden poster.

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The Alice in Wonderland t-shirt runs for $34 with $2.99 in shipping, which is more than reasonable seeing as how much work goes into each shirt.

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This is my shirt from the front…

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and from the back – you can actually read every single word if you like!

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A closer look.

I’ve loved both stories since I was a little girl and when you read a favorite book over and over again, it becomes familiar, like an old friend. What I love is that Litographs has transferred those books into works of wearable art and displayable design. That way old favorites can be revisited and remembered without ever turning a page!
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This is what my poster looks like, I’ve dropped it off at Michael’s to be framed. I can already see my walls being filled with these prints!
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I could explain all the hard work that goes into Litograph’s, but Danny does a far better job that I could have in this video (found on his Kickstarter page) here.

I definitely predict Litographs Gatsby prints and shirts becoming a massive hit, what with the movie coming out. I loved the book when I read it back in High School, and I know I already have my eye on the poster!

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The Great Gatsby poster and t-shirt is available in store online now!

Check out Litographs here! And be sure to sign up for their email updates, they send out a $10 off coupon code for every new release (usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays)!

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Partying with Post-Its!

Last Wednesday night I had the pleasure of attending probably the coolest Post-It and Scotch (as in the tape, lol!) party ever! I went with my sister (the artist) and had so much fun!

We were greeted at the event by loads of Post-It art – from mini post-it pieces of art to large twister-looking sculptures. I was completely blown away by all the amazing things you could do with Post-Its!

Here’s some photos from the event:

postit fashionAren’t these the most fashionable post-it products! I love them!

postit artAwesome Post-it art created by Greg Adamson and Robert Mann respectively.

postit artAMAZING Post-It art – who knew you could do so many creative things with Post-Its!?

Alton DuLaneyDesign Consultant Alton DuLaney shows off the skateboards he designed using Post-It and Scotch’s line of office and craft products!

postit signature seriesI had an inside peek at Post-It’s new Signature Series which will be sold online and at boutiques! They’re designed by artists and look gorgeous!

I had such a blast at this event, my sister is already dreaming of one day designing her own line of Post-It’s for their signature series, lol! I loved seeing the original and unique pieces created by artists with Post-It’s and loved the new products they have out. It’s really great to see Post-It’s veer into designer and craft territory – the Post-It brand is no longer relegated to the corner of one’s desk, with new designs and fabulous products Post-It demands attention!

*Disclaimer: I was invited to the event as press and received a gift bag during the event. However, my opinions are 100% my own and not influenced in any manner.

My Ultra-Glam Girls Night In with Sally Hansen! #IHeartMyNailArt

It’s not very often that I get to have a girls night in – so when I recently had the opportunity I pounced on it and went all out! I’d been planning to try out color blocking nail art styles and who better to be my guinea pigs then my girlfriends?!

When I called up my friend with an invite she insisted that the party be furnished with junk food and treats, “I need a girls night” she commented eagerly. So after I unearthed My Big Fat Greek Wedding for us to watch, I dutifully headed to Walgreens and loaded up on lots of treats – including some fabulous nail art supplies from Sally Hansen!

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There were so many colors and polish formula options that I felt like a kid in a candy store – but I eventually settled on a few. I also picked up a new top coat, nail polish remover pads, and this super cool Sally Hansen No More Mistakes Manicure Clean-Up Pen.

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After I stocked up on primping products I loaded up on lots of snacks! My haul included White Castle Mini Burgers, hot wings, honey BBQ wings, mozzarella cheese sticks, Valencia almonds, almond M&M’s, mini powdered doughnuts, cookies, margarita glasses, three Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Strips, six nail polishes, a top coat, a No Mistakes pen, nail polish removing pads, and old fashioned ice cream sandwiches – all for a grand total of $120! Not bad for a Girls Night In with all the fixin’s! Plus because I used my Walgreen’s Balance Rewards Card I scored 1,000 rewards points! See my whole shopping trip by clicking here.

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My GNI was so much fun! It did get quite messy but everybody had a great time and left with fab nails! I served loads of snacks – which were quite sticky so we had to clean our hands and nails really well before we started designing them!

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I really loved how easy it was to achieve the color blocked look with the Sally Hansen Salon Effects nail strips – which paired up beautifully with the bright colored nail polishes I picked out. Here’s a quick tutorial:

color blocking tutorial sally hansen1. Clean your nails and file them down to your desired length and shape.

2. Coat your nails in a base color – two coats should be sufficient, with five minutes in between each coat to dry. You can also add an extra color at this point – like a quick swipe along the edge.

3. Cut your nail strips into desired shapes. These should be smaller than your nail – that way you can see a decent amount of your base color.

4. Apply nail strips and smooth over and shape edges. Remove any excess nail strip that might be hanging over.

5. Apply a generous layer of top coat, which will seal your nails. Repeat if necessary.

6. Enjoy your fab nails! Feel free to add extra embellishments like glitter or rhinestones – personalize your color blocked look in any way you like!

Here are the other designs that we created – let me know what you think!

Sally Hansen Color Blocking Nail Art

You can get a similar look by purchasing these Block Art items here on Walgreens’ online store!

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Right now until 4/27 Walgreens has all the Sally Hansen Xtreme Nail Polishes on sale for 2/$5 – and you get a 1,000 points when you use your balance rewards card! Looking to try out color blocking – the two polishes seen here would make a great ultra glam look – and you can even buy them online at Walgreen’s!

*Disclaimer: I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® . and COTY #cbias #SocialFabric

New Posters Released for Oz The Great And Powerful!

So you guys already know that I’m pretty excited to see Oz The Great And Powerful – I remember falling in love with The Wizard of Oz when I was little (although the flying monkeys totally creeped me out), and cannot wait to see the magic that Disney has worked in creating a backstory for one of the most famous stories ever told!

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Judging by the way the trailer and how the posters look – this film is bound to get nominated for something! Right now I’m completely enthralled with the artwork featured in the movie posters – everything looks so vivid and whimsical. Plus, I can’t wait to see Rachel Weisz as Evanora, one of the three witches (I’m guessing she’s the darker more devious one of the three) of the Land of Oz!

Starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, and Zach Braff Oz The Great And Powerful is directed by Sam Raimi and slated for release on March 8, 2013. Until then, I’ve included the newest poster and a couple stills from Oz The Great And Powerful for your viewing pleasure – aren’t they beautiful?!

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OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

Scooby Doo & Rembrandt Too

I’ve been a New Yorker all my life, and in my lifetime I’ve been to the Met (or Metropolitan Museum of Art) at least 18 times. However, despite my repetitive visits the museum has never failed to surprise me with something new to see. Just recently, I made another visit to the museum with my whole family and I thought I’d share some amazing things that we saw here:

Take a look at this guy. He doesn’t look like much with his big puffy velvet artist hat, but behind his beseeching gaze is a soul that has gone from guts to grace. If you don’t recognize him, his name is none other then Rembrandt van Rijn. He went from being the son of a miller, to the acclaimed artist and party boy of Hollands Golden Age, to a man humbled by poverty who learned that Grace is better than glory. His work is usually not shown anywhere other than in Holland, so its pretty amazing that the MET got a whole room full of his work on loan! But only for a little while! If you are able to see one of them in person, you could undoubtedly see the deep emotion within the imperfect forms of humanity he paints. Or you’ll think “Gee Scooby is it just me are those eyes following us? Doik!”

Wouldn’t you like to drink out of this cup? While crashing a guided tour my mom and I found out that this cup and the silver one behind it, were cups used to serve Persian King Artaxerxes. The silver one in particular was used by famous cup-bearer Nehemiah to serve the king! How cool is that?! In fact, the tour guide said that it is quite possible that these two cups were used by Queen Esther when she exposed Haman’s attempt at annihilating God’s chosen people.

This little number is the third model of the Colt’s Dragoon .44 Caliber Repercussion Revolver (the sort of revolver that Maddie Ross carries around in True Grit)! Made out of steel, brass, gold, and walnut- this dates back to 1853!

This is the Tara Brooch, not only did it’s familiar name (think, Gone With the Wind) draw my attention, but also how pretty and ornate this small piece was. A reproduction of the original, which is at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, the brooch is said to exemplify early medieval Irish metalworkers achievements.

Oh! My knight in shining armor! I visit these guys every time I go to the MET, because, we’ll in case they suddenly come to life I want to be the first damsel in distress (scratch that, these guys are actually pretty short believe it or not).