She has won Oscars for Memoirs of A Geisha, Chicago and Alice In Wonderland, and had two films out on Christmas Day – Disney’s Into The Woods with Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick and James Corden amongst others, and Tim Burton’s Big Eyes starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, and her eponymous handbag line launched late in December.
So I am extremely pleased that the next inspirational woman in the A Day in the Life series is the extraordinary Hollywood costume designer Colleen Atwood, who has given us a day from last autumn, when she was working simultaneously on Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass and the imminent launch of her handbags.
A sketch from Chicago
Over to you Colleen:
6:00 am: I am up and out with Dash, my Lowchen Terrier to St James Park. The dawn is just breaking and I glimpse a Fox and notice a beautiful tree with both blossoms and Fall leaves. The colours are inspiring and not what you expect in Fall.
A sketch for Alice in Wonderland
6:40 am: I head to Shepperton Studios where I am working on the costumes for ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’. Today is the Red Queen’s (Helena Bonham Carter’s) last day – We are very sad to see her go.
7.15 am: I check Helena’s organic leather costume for any last minute repairs before we start filming.
8 am: I head off to my workroom to look at the changes to the coronation costumes for a particular scene in the film. I am currently working on finding all the right complimentary jewels to add royal touches and complete the outfits.
8.30 am: I instruct my crafts people to build some last minute coronets and a courtly belt in metallic leather to complete the looks.
9.00 am: I run back to set to make sure Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena are good to go on camera. All’s well so I head straight back to he workroom to line up the work for the next day.
10.00 am: I review leather shapes and materials for my upcoming ‘Colleen Atwood’ handbag line. This is a diversion for me from my usual costume work – I have been looking at beautiful vintage leather pieces my whole career, so it has been amazing to translate the elegance into a modern collection.
I have used the richest leathers and colours for this autumnal grouping, and am excited to see the final bags, I am so proud of what I have produced.
10.30 am: I have a brief conversation with factory in Italy that are producing the bags regarding hardware and interior details. I make a note to myself to learn more Italian!
11.00 am: I take a conference call with the PR team for “Into The Woods” regarding artwork and sketches needed for various publications. I loved being a part of the film.
Memoirs of a Geisha
11.30am: I head to various fabric shops in London’s West End. I am getting swatches for the animated character in ‘Alice’ and going to these stores is always a fun assignment, as they are a lively group.
1pm: Back at the studio for another call regarding concept art for the next ‘Huntsman’ film (following “Snow White and the Huntsman“). It should be very exciting, and I am already thinking about leather, and all the exciting options that I could work on. A little cross-pollination across projects is always good.
2pm: I quickly catch up on some emails before going back to set to check on Alice – played by Mia Wakowski. She is just going into a scene with loads of action, so there are 3 of her walking around on set (Mia, her double, and the stunt actor). It’s very confusing.
3pm: I squeeze in a family call to Los Angeles to check in – all good!
3.30 pm: I exchange emails with California-based charity ‘Art of Elysium’ which funds art projects for children with terminal illnesses and their families. Working with them is a great way to give back by doing something meaningful and positive.
4pm: I jump in the car and head to London Heathrow terminal 2. I am catching a flight to Virginia to receive an award given by the Middleborough Film Festival. I have a total movie binge on the plane and manage to watch three.
6pm: US time (1am in London): The second I get to the beautiful Salamander resort, I change and attend the opening night dinner. The room is filled with a very engaged and interesting group of stellar women including founders of TV networks, heads of various charities and great global thinkers.
3am UK Time: Now off to bed tired but happy. It’s Halloween tomorrow, one of my favourite holidays!