Clothing fit for the Capitol: The Woman Behind “The Hunger Games” Costume Designs

The second installment of The Hunger Games series, Catching Fire, premieres this week, which means that costume designer Trish Summerville can finally take a moment to sit back and admire her handiwork. Summerville is an acclaimed fashion designer who has created and curated outfits for film, television, music videos, commercials, and editorials; her resume is diverse and expansive, and her work, revered. She is undeniably qualified to take on the otherworldly, intricate garments depicted in The Hunger Games, making author Suzanne Collins’ characters truly come to life.

Kristin Hohenadel, a writer for the Fast Company explains, “Some of Summerville’s costumes come from retail and secondhand stores, but much of her work is original, either sewn according to her sketches or created with designers as special one-off looks.” The garments showcased in snippets and previews of Catching Fire are remarkable; they definitely evoke a dystopia, riddled with instances of glamour and high fashion. Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is a character who is depicted in extremes; in one scene she is a fierce fighter, in another she wears garments that indicate a soft, vulnerable femininity.

Effie, played by Elizabeth Banks, wears some of the most outlandish, couture-inspired pieces in the film. Summerville doesn’t let the character’s extravagant style overwhelm her personality, but rather allows Effie’s character traits to inform her costume design. She explains, “Effie has the lavish lifestyle in the Capitol, but she’s grown close to Peeta and Katniss. So even though she looks put together, she’s teetering on shoes that are just a bit too high, or her waist is cinched in a bit too tight. She’s not letting herself ever be fully comfortable. It’s kind of her own penance,” of her carefully constructed looks for Effie.

In a film like Catching Fire, Summerville also was forced to consider things she may never thought of before, such as how to make costumes that can withstand a lot of stunts and activity. Of the uniforms the tributes have to wear during the games, “These were a challenge: figuring out what worked on 24 different body types, what fabrics would have the flexibility we needed, how to pad them for the stunt sequences in and out of water. It was figuring out what looked pleasing to the eye and was also functional,” she says. Regardless of the challenges she faced, Summerville executed each of the looks perfectly, drawing from the plot, while adding her personal touch and expertise.

What do you think about Trish Summerville’s costume designs for the film?

Images: capitolcouture via Instagram

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