Real Magic Went Into Making 'The Huntsman' Costumes

Colleen Atwood orchestrated a global effort to create those unbelievable dresses for Charlize Theron.

When watching movies that take place in a mythical world, it can be hard to remember that someone in our real world had to create the unfamiliar yet beautiful costumes. A powerful wizard or queen emerges in a vibrant gold dress and your brain thinks the outfit must have materialized from magic. But the creation of these storybook textiles takes practically Herculean work by actual humans.

Academy Award-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood is typically the person for such a job. The Huffington Post spoke with her in connection with the Blu-ray and DVD release of “The Huntsman: Winter’s War.”  

Atwood created the extensive costuming for “The Huntsman,” which came out earlier this year, as well as for its predecessor, “Snow White and the Huntsman.” For both movies, she had to make multiple, nearly impossible dresses for Charlize Theron’s character, Queen Ravenna. In “Snow White,” Atwood somehow made Theron a dress with thousands of beetle wings miraculously attached together.

The dress that rivaled that level of craftsmanship in “The Huntsman” was a golden dress Theron wore as her character emerged through a mirror. “It took a long time,” said Atwood. “It took like four weeks to make one dress for three people [working on it].”

Due to the particular gold color required for Theron’s dress, Atwood had to get creative with the materials. “I ended up finding silver leather that I could cut in strips and then stain gold, so it looked more like an old mirror that had gone gold,” explained Atwood. “It was an interesting discovery process, the actual costume is one of my favorites that I’ve ever made.”


Two costumes by Atwood:

Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron in "The Huntsman: Winter's War." 
Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron in "The Huntsman: Winter's War." 

Creating the costumes for the movie ended up being a global challenge. Atwood described the coordination nightmare:

“I had my own workroom, inside that I ran with two cutters and then I [tasked] some of the stuff to a workroom in Italy that I was familiar with from other projects. And then I had a huge room of really amazing crafts people that did all the leather work. Then, if I had like kind of cut-and-sewn clothes that were more like what the young Huntsmen kids wore, I would do samples in my shop and then have those go out to outside vendors, which happened to be people that are generally in the U.K. [and] Eastern Europe. Sometimes India or Indian-based factories in England.”

Atwood concluded, “So, it’s kind of like you have a lot of tentacles out there, [for] everything [to get] ready in time. You can’t just do it in one space.” 

The labor behind these costumes undoubtedly took a toll, but the end products certainly seem like a bit of real-life magic.


Check out Theron’s various dresses in the trailer below:

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