Jewelry designer Cathy Waterman is living proof that fairytales can come true. Quite literally, in fact—Cathy was approached by costume designer Colleen Atwood to create the jewelry for “Snow White and the Huntsman,” Rupert Sanders’ Hollywood recreation of the classic fairytale.
Cathy was a natural fit for the job. Draped on stars like Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart, her magical, jewel-encrusted creations act like tiny windows into the characters’ psyches. Dark, romantic and evocative, they pretty much steal the show, if we do say so ourselves.
Luckily the film hits theaters today, because we couldn’t wait another second to get a look at the fantastical baubles on the big screen after chatting with Cathy about the project…
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Barneys New York: How did the collaboration with Colleen start?
Cathy Waterman: Fairytales have informed my work from the very start—something Colleen saw and was attracted to. She visited the studio and knew pretty quickly that we would work well together. It is a complex script with some interesting characters and I knew that Rupert [Sanders, the director] was planning to go deep into them, which makes it juicy from my perspective. In the beginning of the film, Ravenna wears a ring that’s a flower with a black heart. It is simply beautiful, but when you look deeper, you see the blackened diamond center of the flower.
How was working together?
We hit it off personally, which made the project lots of fun. My canon is that if I can dream it, I can make it. Colleen works much the same way.
How does your own aesthetic translate to the pieces you created for the film?
It is all interwoven; there is no distinction. The pieces for the film harken to moods and stones that I have been working with for years. For example, leaves have appeared in my work since my first collection. The earrings that Queen Ravenna wears in the “Mirror, Mirror” scene have leaves creep up around the stone, creating a nest for the black sapphires. This is the first (but not the last, I am sure) appearance of creeping leaves inspired by the darkness of Queen Ravenna’s heart.
Aside from the characters, where did you turn for inspiration?
Since childhood I have been fascinated by all kinds of stories. I studied early church and Byzantine history, so I could immerse myself in their stories. The two things I always do for fun is read and travel. Last year I spent some time with my family in Egypt and Jordan in some old and ghostly places where the beauty and ferocity of both man and nature were extremely close to the surface. I would say that all of this informed my work for the film.
What were some of your favorite pieces to craft for the film?
I loved making the pendant that Queen Ravenna wears in the “Mirror, Mirror” scene. It is handmade and took over 100 hours. With this piece, I think I have taken it to another level.
Tell us about the pieces and the characters you designed them for.
Snow White wears a simple shield-like band. It is modest and fierce at the same time, befitting an orphaned princess. Snow White’s mom (played by Liberty Ross) wears some beautiful pieces in a scene in the snow. She is pure and lovely and only beauty would do for her. Queen Ravenna is complicated—not exactly pure evil, but also sad. All her pieces are double-edged. The lace necklace she wears in her wedding scene is a cage, from which none of them will be able to escape unscathed.
Like what you see? These pieces are now part of Hollywood lore, but you can channel Snow White (or the Evil Queen) in any of Cathy Waterman’s pieces at Barneys.com.
What was your favorite fairytale when you were a child?
Snow White, of course.
What’s the hardest thing about designing jewelry for a film?
The uncertainty. You never really know what will be used. You could work hard on a collection only to find they decided not to use it. That said, I love being a part of Hollywood. I was born here and it’s in my blood.
What were some of the materials you used?
I only work in precious recycled metals. Most of the pieces in the film are “old gold,” which has been burnished and has a lived-in look. Darker stones—sapphires, rubies—and deep colored stone and pearls with the caged lace necklace. I am all about contrasts.