How I Travel: Costume Designer Colleen Atwood Thinks London Has the Best Menswear
10.11.2023 - 23:45
Over four decades, the costume designer Colleen Atwood has enjoyed an incredible career, working on films like Chicago, Little Women (1994), The Silence of the Lambs, and Edward Scissorhands and winning four Academy Awards. Her considerable workload—in 2023, she worked on the live-action The Little Mermaid as well as Netflix’s new drama Pain Hustlers, streaming now—doesn’t allow for a whole lot of leisure travel. “I’m embarrassed,” she says of her lack of experience in this realm. “I’m a traveler, but not a vacationer.”
After a very late night on set, the style legend spoke with Condé Nast Traveler about the kind of trips she does take for work, as well as her favorite fashion cities and how she spends her flying time.
Her go-to plane outfit:
I’m old-school: I still wear a jacket or a blazer, a pair of jeans, and usually a cotton shirt, because I like wearing a cotton layer on the airplanes. Sometimes planes are hot, sometimes they're cold; I always have a big scarf in case they're freezing. Then for shoes, just because of convenience, I wear Stan Smith sneakers.
What’s in her carry-on:
My bag usually has a toothbrush, toothpaste, a set of underwear, and a few small cosmetic things. I always put in an extra shirt and a fresh pair of jeans just in case my luggage gets lost. Because I mainly travel for work, I always have my computer, my iPad, and a book. And that’s it—I like to keep it tidy.
How she packs for business trips:
I take research trips for work, and pack according to the climate, what business I have to do, and the culture. When I did Memoirs of Geisha, a long time ago, we did a cultural trip to Japan. Because I was with the director and producer, I knew I’d have to attend more formal occasions than I would normally, so I took a black tuxedo jacket and pants, and a black skirt with a scoop neck top. I have that really basic uniform if I have to go out to a nice dinner or something like that, and it’s usually in a [fabric] that travels well, a gabardine or something else durable. Then one pair of high shoes, one pair of boots, and a sneaker. And no matter where I go in the world, I always take a pair of flip-flop sandals, a decent pair that I can wear out and get wet.
How she spends these research excursions:
I’m looking for archives, and for dealers who sell period pieces and are knowledgeable about them. Also, resources for fabrics that relate to that era. I take a lot of pictures, and my iPhone is great because it’s so much faster. If you’re pulling out a camera, sometimes [dealers] don’t like you to photograph [the pieces], but the phone you can get away with a bit more.
The cities with the best fashion:
I really think London has a great style scene for menswear—the best, to me. It