No, we’re not talking about those costumes! We’re talking about the costume design for the films!
Guest writer Elizabeth is a bit of a clothing design fanatic. Sadly, she wasn’t all too impressed with the fashion choices in The Hunger Games. Let’s see what she has to say and hear her hopes for Catching Fire!
Filming for Catching Fire has begun, and there’s a new costume designer on set. And while we don’t know exactly what Girl with the Dragon Tattoo stylist Trish Summerville is putting our loved (and loathed) tributes in under those insidious white bathrobes, this reader certainly hopes it’s better than the last time around.
With the exception of Katniss and Peeta on the chariot, the Tribute costumes of The Hunger Games were underwhelming at best. Blue and hot pink fish for District 4? A frilly tutu for Glimmer’s interview, who in the books had been described as wearing a sexy golden gown? All forgivable, I suppose, but what broke my heart was Katniss’s interview dress. I believe the description I’ve heard some people use is “last-season Narciso Rodriguez,” which is dead on. With all the tech effects in this film, it’s startling they weren’t able to find some way to approximate the bejeweled spectacle that was our heroine’s interview dress in the books. The DVD commentary for The Hunger Games says that it was Gary Ross’s vision that was important for that dress, not Suzanne Collins’s, but man, what a miscalculation to not go with her description.
Costumes are so important in Catching Fire, much more so than in the first film. I would go as far as using the word “iconic.” Although the Hunger Games franchise can be read as an indictment on our materialistic culture, fashion is vital to the series and its theme of image as a means to an end. Each costume perfectly encapsulates characters and themes. Finnick’s golden net tied seductively at his hip says, “I am the sexy golden boy. I’m here to tempt you.” Johanna’s leafy outfit followed by her shameless elevator striptease says, “natural, exposed, confident. This is who I am, deal with it.” Katniss and Peeta’s radiant parade costumes, of course, are supposed to express the betrayal they feel, but that they are still powerful, defiant.
And of course, the single most important outfit is Katniss’s wedding dress and its fiery transformation to a mockingjay. That wedding dress has to be the dress to end all dresses, the last word on bridal gowns, as Katniss would say. It has to be a feat of craftsmanship, ethereal yet elegant, and it has to be exactly the way it was described in the book, because readers have had dreams about this gown. This isn’t the time for some up and coming designer to create an avant garde confection purely from their own imagination. Nope. The dress has to have the pearls wrapping around her throat, the sleeves that fall from the wrists to the floor, the fitted bodice and elaborate skirt. It has to be beautiful enough to make us cry at the tragedy that she will never get to wear it and the horror that she is forced to wear it as pretty much a burial shroud.
And they have to get the transformation right. The fire can’t look cheesy. She can’t look like a burnt chicken. I think the costume people can get a lot of inspiration from Natalie Portman’s Black Swan look. This IS the place to get creative. Since it’s a little harder to picture a designer interpretation of a black bird than it is to picture a wedding dress, there’s room to play. And like white swan vs. black swan, it must be the exact opposite of a virginal wedding dress even if the silhouette is the same. It has to be sexy. BAD. Dangerous. Plunging neckline, maybe a high slit. All the feathers should be long and shiny to catch the light.
In my ideal world, I would love to see Katniss’s dresses be designed by Prabal Gurung. Jennifer Lawrence already rocked a sexy Prabal Gurung gold cutout gown on the red carpet this year, and she looked like a babe from outer space in it. And the designer already has some gowns in a recent collection (in black and in white, no less) that mix shimmery fabrics with sheer or lacy details and feathers. Feathers!
Suzanne Collins could be a closet (see what I did there?) fashionista. She made one of the most beloved characters in the series a stylist! Let’s hope the producers of Catching Fire can make her droolworthy costume descriptions come to life so that the sequel will be filled with stunning sartorial eye candy.