Blink and you’re likely to miss it, but one of Snow White and the Huntsman’s high points is a gleaming turquoise gown that Charlize Theron wears in her role of the wicked queen. Trimmed with thousands of discarded jewel-beetle wings from Thailand, where the insect is a delicacy, the dress is a brittle, decaying carapace that mirrors Queen Ravena’s own physical and psychological deterioration.


Although it appears for only brief seconds—a victim of the cutting-room floor—the gown loses none of its bite. “[The wings are] incredibly sharp, so I had to be careful about how I used them,” Colleen Atwood, the film’s award-winning costumer designer, told the Associated Press. “If you hit them, you can hurt yourself. They’re quite treacherous, which really suited the character.”

Atwood might have been inspired by Ellen Tracy’s beetle-wing gown from 1888.

Atwood, who bagged her most recent Oscar for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, might have been inspired by a Victorian-era gown worn by Shakespearean actress Ellen Terry. Recently restored by the National Trust at the cost of £50,000 ($81,000), the dress features 1,000 iridescent beetle wings, 100 of which had to be painstakingly repaired using small pieces of Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste.

+ Snow White and the Huntsman

[Via Associated Press]