Movie Article

Costume Design: This Couture is on Fire

The Capitol players are getting a major fashion makeover for ''The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,'' thanks to costume designer Trish Summerville

Image credit: Murray Close

Costume designer Trish Summerville and Elizabeth Banks

We go behind the scenes (and seams) to deconstruct the year's best costumes, set design, and hair and makeup on the big and small screens

One of director Francis Lawrence's goals when taking the helm of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was to amp up the moments of high fashion in the Capitol, the outrageously excessive center of power and style that author Suzanne Collins imagined in an otherwise depleted nation. ''I thought that the costumes needed to be more sophisticated,'' says the director. ''There were a lot of opportunities to go crazy and have fun.'' Enter costume designer Trish Summerville, whose exquisite vision (last seen on the big screen in 2011's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) looks to be one of the more decadent pleasures of the sequel, out Nov. 22. Summerville's undertaking was certainly massive. Our heroine, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), has 45 costume changes alone, as does her tribute ally, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), to say nothing of the 6,000 extras who needed to be dressed head to toe in elaborate ensembles. ''It's fantasy,'' says Summerville with a laugh. ''You can't say, 'Bring in all black!''' Working on an abbreviated schedule because of the director shuffle, the costume designer first made vision boards for elements like color, mood, hair and makeup, and even one devoted to the pink hue of the Capitol sky. She mixed custom-designed costumes with pieces from labels legendary (Alexander McQueen) and up-and-coming (Tex Saverio and Juun.J), obsessed over heightening the animalistic undertones of the fierce Peacekeepers, and added allusions to both Joseph Stalin and Pope Benedict XVI in President Snow's (Donald Sutherland) wardrobe. One of Summerville's favorite cast members to collaborate with was Elizabeth Banks, who plays ding-a-ling fashion-plate tribute handler Effie Trinket. ''I put her in these costumes, and she wouldn't have hair or makeup or anything, but her body posture instantly changed,'' remembers the designer. ''Her hands went up and her neck tilted to the side, and she was instantly Effie. For me, that lets me know when things are working, when a costume helps an actor transform to where they need to be for a character. I love my job.''

Send in the Gowns
Summerville collaborated with 29-year-old designer Tex Saverio — known as the Alexander McQueen of Indonesia — to turn author Suzanne Collins' description of Katniss' wedding gown into a sumptuous reality. ''His stuff very much fits into the world of the Capitol,'' Summerville says.

Purple Pose
Effie vamps in a lavender confection straight from Alexander McQueen's fall 2012 collection. ''She's suffering not just for fashion but because of her turmoil with the part she plays in the Capitol,'' says Summerville.

Tour De Force
Many of the utilitarian ensembles Katniss and Peeta wear for appearances on their Victory Tour are from relatively unknown designers Juun.J and Nicholas K. ''They won.... They have money, they have food, and their clothes have changed a lot too,'' explains Summerville.

Flight of Fancy
Effie's Reaping outfit — pulled from the archives at Alexander McQueen — is a standout fashion moment. ''It was just insane and intense and precious,'' marvels Summerville, who borrowed several pieces from the label. ''They're made for this movie; they're made for Effie.''

A Capitol Look
Fashion may be an ugly business in panem, but Summerville's Hunger Games-inspired clothing line for net-a-porter is all splendor

After seeing the over-the-top style of Catching Fire, fans may want to take a piece of it home (well, maybe not the jabberjays). On Nov. 21, the day before Fire opens, they'll be able to do just that, when Net-A-Porter unveils Capitol Couture by Trish Summerville, a collection of clothing, jewelry, and leather goods based on Fire's most fashion-forward looks. ''It's great for the demographic,'' explains Summerville, who created a line for H&M inspired by her work in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in 2011. ''It's a tool to introduce the fashion of the Capitol and of Katniss to the world.''

Originally posted Nov 01, 2013 Published in issue #1286 Nov 22, 2013 Order article reprints
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