Costume designer Trish Summerville and I sat down for a chat at the Chateau Marmont (we also caught up on the red carpet of the Catching Fire premiere) to discuss her work on the film and her tie-in collaboration with NET-A-PORTER – Capitol Couture. Trish didn’t make the costumes for the first Hunger Games, so she had to play catch-up, and in the end, far outdid all expectations. She credits director Francis Lawrence for giving her free reign, telling me, “he brought so much to the movie – such a beautiful film.” Author Suzanne Collins trusted him and he trusted Trish. And so did NET-A-PORTER! Her collection with the online retailer recreates some of the film’s best looks (with a few functional changes, of course – would you really want a gown that catches on fire?), most similarly the Mockingjay dress and the arena-themed track pieces.
The former is the movie’s most famous costume. During an interview with Caesar, Katniss spins around in her wedding gown, slowly turning it into a Mockingjay dress. The one in the film was heavily boned – a very full skirt with six layers of fabric (and wings). For NET-A-PORTER, it was made cocktail length ($550) without the boning, allowing you to wear it out on the town without starting your own revolution. Then again, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing!
For Capitol Couture, Trish also redesigned the tracksuit costumes from the Games. Instead of 3D grids, the jacket ($375) and leggings ($125) are paneled in a flat honeycomb pattern. Even though they’re very similar to those in the movie, they’re not what were described in the book. The novel’s uniform was sheer blue, but Trish panicked, thinking of the actors, “How will they do stunts? I have a lady who is 78-years-old. Is she wearing panties under that? How would that look?” Then there were 23 other people who also had to look right in it. After doing research on fan reactions and speaking to Suzanne, it was decided that a different approach was needed for the arena costume. For the NET-A-PORTER collaboration, Trish also designed pieces for true hardcore fans, like the gray and white t-shirts ($75). With the simple words “Girl on Fire” burning up like ashes across a cotton tee, these are more for fans of the book and movie than for fashion fans.
The Capitol’s looks, on the other hand, were appropriately outrageous. When I asked about choosing them, Trish immediately responded that it was a loaded question. Designing for the corrupt city, she understood that fashion changes, trends come up, and since the people of the Capitol have an insatiable appetite for everything – food, clothing, make-up, etc. – she did a complete revamp of the first movie’s style. Of course she kept it very colorful, but raised the fashion to a higher level with plenty of couture. Trish didn’t want it to seem like all of the Capitol citizens shopped at the same store. It was essential to represent each of the tribes that are left, and to do so she brought in different tapestries, fabrics, hats (small hats, structural hats, origami hats), tribal ethnic pieces, and even skirts for the men. The designer believes that not everyone in the Capitol is bad, a diversity she wanted to remind us of.
The famous metropolis’ inhabitant she most enjoyed dressing was Effie, who left quite an emotional impact on Trish. She said, “Effie is inherently good. Her battle is with what the Capitol represents. She is the candy in the room. She is a big bonbon, but she is conflicted. As she gets close to the kids who are forced to come back, she felt betrayed. She is always teetering in Alexander McQueen no-heel shoes. She is never comfortable. She wears big belts so she can’t sit down. She looks good but she is in pain.” For the scene of the reaping, Trish had actress Elizabeth Banks wear the Alexander McQueen Monarch butterfly dress since it’s springtime and the chrysalis is supposed to bring happiness. Everything is terrible, so she has to be this happy butterfly even though in reality, she’s completely miserable.
All of the film’s details, down to the tiny butterfly wings, were spot-on. When it comes to making a big statement with a little accessory, the Capitol Couture jewels are sure to impress. I must have the ear cuff ($185), but the piece that is actually from Catching Fire is the pendant ($215). It’s a recreation of the one Peeta gave to Katniss with the secret panel that opens like an accordion to show holograms of her mom, Prim, and Gale. The necklace for NET-A-PORTER has a secret slide-out piece that you can engrave with family initials or a personal mantra. It would make an excellent holiday gift, and I know you have at least one friend who would kill for (well, let’s hope not actually!) any of these cleverly designed pieces. Trish is so enthusiastic about her work and very sweet. It was obvious she loved this collaboration as much as she did working on the film, which certainly says a lot, as she told me, “It was an honor to be on the site with all the other designers.” I can’t want to see what she comes up with next! Capitol Couture available exclusively on NET-A-PORTER.