Legendary costume designer Colleen Atwood begins her design work on the Fantastic Beasts films with an appropriately magical flight of fancy. "We figure out where their wand pockets are, where they hide their wands and how they get them out," she tells A.frame. "Sometimes you see it in the movie and sometimes you don't."
"A lot of times it's on the inside of the sleeve or sometimes it's hidden in the inside pocket of their trousers," Atwood says. "I've done a couple of sheaths on the side of their pants, like a holster sort of setup, but that's mainly for bad guys."
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore marks Atwood's third outing in the Wizarding World. (She won the Oscar for Best Costume Design in 2017 with the first film, among 12 total nomination and four wins.) This installment takes Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and the gang from Bhutan to Berlin, with a stopover in Hogwarts, requiring a whole new world of magical costumes.
Although filming was original slated for early 2020, the production was postponed until later that year due to the pandemic, resulting in a number of shutdown-related issues but one in particular that was unique to Atwood: "When I came back into it after COVID, two of my actors were pregnant!" she laughs.
"I was like, 'Oh my God, I have to rethink how to make this costume work on somebody that's going to be pregnant for three months while we're filming?!'" she says of costuming Alison Sudol, who plays Queenie, and Victoria Yeates, who plays Bunty. "I used the same ideas and textures, but I reshaped the original costumes. Then, as it goes along, you put stretch in certain places that you can't see. So, that was one thing that made it a very unique experience as the designer."
Below, Atwood breaks down her designs for four key characters in The Secrets of Dumbledore, including — spoiler! — that custom wedding dress worn by Sudol's Queenie at the end of the movie.
Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore
Despite any enigma surrounding the eponymous professor, Atwood's approach to Dumbledore's classic three-piece suits and jackets remains decidedly forthright, albeit with a painstaking attention to detail.
From the start, we give a nod to the Dumbledores of the Potter movies [played by Richard Harris and then Michael Gambon]. He was in those grayish, mauve-y colors that were his robes. And I wanted to not put him in the same color but have it be reminiscent that it could evolve into that. So, I used a really soft dove gray color.
With Dumbledore, I've always chosen very approachable-feeling clothes, like stuff you wanted to touch. Really lush fabrics, like beautiful cashmeres. They're not flashy at all but just have an old-world elegance to them. So, it's a soft, lux version of Dumbledore. And nobody can work a costume like Jude Law.
There's not a lot of what you guys call Easter eggs on Dumbledore's costume. He's pretty straightforward. He's always had these great stitched shoes that were inspired by a vintage pair that I saw. They have a certain spider webby pattern that's very Dumbledore. But other than that, his stuff's pretty straightforward, to be honest.
Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein
The wayward Legilimens finds herself living in Nurmengard Castle amongst Grindelwald's followers, with Germanic silhouettes and newly platinum blonde hair outwardly reflecting that transition to the dark side.
This [sketch] is where I started with her Grindelwald uniform. It's a severe version of the '30s style, a fashion-y, hard, kind of Fascist version of the soft colors that she wore before. This is her more serious, somber look. I didn't want to do, 'Oh, well, she's dark -- so she's going to wear black.' I wanted it to still have a richness to it and something that reflected power, but in a different, moodier way. [In previous movies,] she was in roses a lot, so I used dark red here. I took the colors that I used for her and plugged them into her, but in the deepest range of that color.
By movie's end, Queenie and Jacob have not only reunited but are married in a magical ceremony at the bakery, and Atwood was tasked with designing only the second ever wedding dress in the Wizarding World franchise.
I did research the period for weddings and fabrics, and I was like, 'Those just don't feel right for her.' It was a lot of heavy satin and stuff like that, and I felt like she should have something that was light and caught the air. My influences were maybe all over the place, really, but that's how I ended up in the layers of organza and chiffon that it ended up being. At one point, she was going to have butterflies on her dress that were animated. So, she was going to be surrounded by all these butterflies. That didn't really happen, but it gave me the idea of making the sleeves these big '30s sleeves and having a train that isn't just a train of heavy satin -- it's alive.
That was so much fun. You have these workrooms with these amazing seamstresses, and two things get them really excited: A baby thing and a wedding dress. They were all aflutter while we were making that. It was really a very labor-intensive dress, because all those little cutout butterflies were handmade and applied on the costume as we built it up. It's a combination of butterflies and then these circles with glitter around the edge. And it was very time consuming. But, at the end of the day, everybody was very excited to see it finally hit the camera.
Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski
Everyone's favorite No-Maj hangs up his apron to embark on another magical mission into the Wizarding world. The biggest change to Jacob's costume this go-around? His suit is in need of a wand pocket for the first time.
We meet him when he's sort of down-and-out and on the skids. He's living in the past and drifting. And what I really like about his costume is that it's magically created — Lally does the wand, and then, he's in that costume for the rest of the show, which was a fun take on it.
What I did is I took the idea of what he had in the last show and made it more everyman-ish in a way. He's always had a little bit of flair, but he's always had that body, so his clothes fit a certain way. And Dan lost a lot of weight on this show. So, he wasn't as big as he was before. I wanted to still make him feel very kind of huggy, so, I used Shetlands and those kind of materials to give him a little more substance physically. It just adds more bulk. And god, it looks like he's having fun through it all. Even though he's suffering a lot, he gives it a comedy-ness and sweetness that really helps the whole story.
Jessica Williams as Lally Hicks
Briefly glimpsed in "The Crimes of Grindelwald," Ilvermorny Professor Eulalie "Lally" Hicks properly enters the fray here, first magically disguised to recruit Jacob (seen above) and then bedecked in her carmine suit set of choice.
I met with Jessica and we talked about the character and color. And I really wanted to avoid dark colors with Lally. When we first see her, she's supposed to look like an innocent librarian-type character sitting outside of Jacob's bakery, so we went darker for that [costume]. And it doesn't really show that much on the camera, but it's very aged, and a kind of shabby look on her. And then, she's transformed into what she wears for the rest of the story.
I felt like Lally was full of life, full of fire, and so we came upon these heightened, sort of African reds and oranges and those kinds of colors. I found a tweed to make her suit that she wears for most of the movie. I liked her to be as powerful as the guys -- but I didn't want her to wear pants -- so we sort of came upon a suit silhouette that was still feminine.
Jessica was totally in love with it. She hadn't really had costumes like that made for her before, so she was kind of giddy about it. I asked for any suggestions, and we played with jewelry, and we made her shoes to match. I love making shoes, so we both had fun ideas for the shoes, and then, she saw them and was like, "Whoa!"