Fashion Diary: ‘Snow White’s’ Colleen Atwood to launch HSN line

Charlize Theron in ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’
Charlize Theron stars in “Snow White and the Huntsman,” for which Colleen Atwood designed costumes.
(Alex Bailey, Universal Pictures)
Los Angeles Times Fashion Critic

“Annie Hall"inspired women to learn how to tie a tie. “Flashdance” set off a craze for ripped sweat shirts. And “Pulp Fiction” made the classic white shirt a hot fashion item.

But how many people know the names of the costume designers who inspired these film-to-fashion moments? (For the record, they are Ruth Morley, Michael Kaplan and Betsy Heimann, respectively.)

When it comes to inspiring others, costume designers rarely gain fame or fortune, even when films and TV shows spin off commercial cosmetics and clothing lines based on their work.

Fashion Diary: In the April 29 Image section, an article about costume designer Colleen Atwood’s “Snow White” collection for HSN said that costume designer Gilbert Adrian left Paramount in 1942. He left MGM. —

But that is starting to change. On May 30, HSN will debut the Atwood by Colleen Atwood collection, pegged to the release of the film"Snow White and the Huntsman” on June 1.


It is the first time the costume designer, a three-time Oscar winner whose credits include “Alice in Wonderland,” “Chicago” and"Ed Wood,"has designed a fashion collection.

“It’s often said that costume designers are a faceless group of people,” Atwood said. “But we can contribute to fashion in a way that might be new and different.

“I’ve always wondered about doing something like this,” added Atwood, whose early experience included working in retail, in the Yves Saint Laurent boutique in a Seattle department store. “When I was doing ‘Snow White,’ I was thinking about it more, because there are so many different kinds of designs in the film that would be fun to spin off. Someone mentioned HSN as an opportunity.”

The 12-piece collection launches as part of a 24-hour “Snow White and the Huntsman” shopping event to be held May 30 across all HSN platforms — TV, and HSN mobile. The programming will include product offerings inspired by the film from HSN’s stable of beauty, jewelry and fashion designers, including Deborah Lippmann, Loree Rodkin and Hutton Wilkinson, along with behind-the-scenes interviews taped on the film’s set.


This is the fourth time HSN has collaborated with a film studio on a shopping event tied to a movie release, and the first time the network has collaborated with a costume designer on a collection. Colleen Atwood “imagined this world and what it would look like,” said Mindy Grossman, HSN’s chief executive. “To take that inspiration to a consumer level, who can do it better?”

The HSN styles, $39 to $169, are much-simplified sportswear versions of the film’s resplendent medieval costumes. For example, a bisque-colored smocked gown worn by Evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) inspired a smocked blouse with angel sleeves and lace trim for HSN, and a long blue dress with puffed sleeves worn by Kristen Stewart (Snow White) was adapted into a hip-length tunic. Atwood will appear live on HSN on May 30 to discuss the collection.

Asked if she sees a time coming when costume designers will have their own fashion labels, Atwood said, “It’s possible. There are some legal issues that would have to be sorted out with the film studios and costume designers receiving remuneration.”

During the golden age of Hollywood, there was a lot of cultural exchange between costume and fashion design. Back then, movie magazines were the voice of fashion, and retailers copied film costumes so women could dress like their favorite stars.

Howard Greer, Travis Banton and Irene Gibbons were all dress designers before they were studio costume designers, and Gilbert Adrian established a fashion salon after he left Paramount in 1942.

The Atwood by Colleen Atwood collection follows on the heels of several other recent branding opportunities for costume designers, including Trish Summerville’s “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” collection for H&M, which launched in December, and the “Mad Men"collection for Banana Republic, designed by the AMC show’s costume designer Janie Bryant and Banana Republic creative director Simon Kneen, and in stores now for the second season.

Why do costume designers want to work as fashion designers?

“To do something completely different,” said Deborah Nadoolman Landis, David C. Copley chair for the Study of Costume Design at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. She points out that the role of a costume designer is to serve the script, and the role of a fashion designer is to serve the customer. “The extra income is fantastic, because the last day on the set is the last day a costume designer gets paid. And the pride of ownership is too, because costume designers don’t get residuals or a piece of the merchandising of a film.”


“Mad Men’s” Bryant, who studied fashion before becoming a costume designer, and recently completed a 90th anniversary capsule collection of vintage-inspired shapewear for Maidenform, feels the recognition and the opportunities are overdue.

“Think about the influence of ‘Bonnie and Clyde,’” she said. “Everyone on the streets wanted to dress like Faye Dunaway. That’s the power of a costume designer. People are inspired by what they see.”