Atwood, who received Academy Award nominations for her designs for "Sleepy Hollow," "Beloved" and "Little Women," researched the style and the art of the 1920s before creating the film's costumes. She culled from fashion, art deco, Bauhaus and Cubism to develop clothing for the characters played by Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere and the rest of the A-list cast. In a press statement Atwood said, "After talking with Rob [Marshall], I understood that the main goal was to separate the world of the imagination from the world in which the characters lived. My initial direction and inspiration came from watching each dance number play out in rehearsal, so that I could see what kind of movement went with each song. The thing that's interesting about 'Chicago' and what makes it fun, as a designer, is that each number is an entity unto itself. "Each actor's character in the story is revealed and exposed in different ways. Roxie's character was the most complex because we see her in a real world, and then we see everyone else through her eyes in the fantasies. For her real world, I used an almost skin-toned palette. But her fantasy colors were stronger and more vibrant. Velma opens the movie as a very strong character and she remains that way; her colors are black and bold. She has a complete fearlessness."
In addition to her designs for "Chicago," "Sleepy Hollow," "Beloved" and "Little Women," Colleen Atwood has also created designs for "Planet of the Apes," "Mars Attacks!," "Edward Scissorhands," "Ed Wood," "The Mexican," "Married to the Mob," "Silence of the Lambs," "Philadelphia," "That Thing You Do!," "Gattaca," "Wyatt Earp," "Lorenzo's Oil," "Rush," "Torch Song Trilogy," "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Manhunter."
Rob Marshall directed and choreographed "Chicago," which hits U.S. screens Dec. 27. Featuring a star-studded cast led by Renée Zellweger (Roxie Hart), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Velma Kelly) and Richard Gere (Billy Flynn), the "Chicago" company also includes John C. Reilly (Amos Hart), Dominic West (Fred Caseley), Christine Baranski (Mary Sunshine), Queen Latifah (Mama Morton) as well as Taye Diggs, Colm Feore, Lucy Liu, Mya, Marc Calamia, Deidre Goodwin, Sebastian La Cause, Mary Ann Lamb and a cameo from original Chicago star Chita Rivera.