Trish Summerville on creating the costumes for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Trish Summerville is an award winning costume designer (she just won 2013 Costume Designer of the Year at the Style Awards!) and she's fearless in the face of a challenge. From The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Trish is no stranger to an epic project, and she's consistently taken them by storm. When you see Catching Fire (because, seriously, who isn't planning on seeing it?!) the film will be that much better thanks to the incredible costumes created for each character. And we're not just talking about Katniss Everdeen(J.Law!) or Peeta Mellark, nope, Trish and her team dressed over 5 thousand extras, too.
We were able to sit down with Trish to talk about the film, her inspirations, and more. Read on below!
StyleList (SL): We're dying to know about your inspirations for Catching Fire. Coming in to the second film, was there anything in the first that you wanted to bring through to the second? Or did you just want to start over?
Trish Summerville (TS): It was a conversation we had with Francis [Lawrence, director] and the producers, to decide what did we think was really important to keep from the first film and bring to the second film? One of the elements we did keep was Katniss's hunting jacket. We just did a little bit of modifying to it, aging it down a little more. We wanted to keep her jacket and her boots because the fans so identify with them. I tried to keep the elements of Districts 11 and 12 because we saw them in the first film, so we wanted to keep that feel -- the depression era feel -- and then just integrate some more contemporary, timeless pieces into it. But other than that, we had a lot of liberty to make changes, because the Capitol changes so quickly and they're constantly looking for new things, having new things designed for them, so we had a lot of liberty there.
SL: So for the Districts that we're now getting to see in Catching Fire, what were your inspirations for the colors/themes/meanings behind each one of those?
TS: For the Districts, I tried to incorporate what the District actually does. So for the Luxury District, we had them more lavish, they're able to have stones and embellishment on their clothes because they provide all of this for the Capitol and they're closer to the Capitol, so they're more wealthy. For the Fishing District, we incorporated fish skins and sea shells, kept the colors of the oceans and the sky. The Transportation District's clothes incorporated grays, blacks, oil cloth. They didn't have a "steam punk" vibe, there's no Victorian to it, but there's gears and gadgets on their clothes. In the Textile District there's a lot of textiles, a lot of color, a bit of an ethnic vibe. Some of the workers have stained hands because they're the ones dying the fabrics -- we wanted to put the little details in.
SL: So how many extras did you work with?
TS: It's somewhere between 5500-5800, just under 6,000.
SL: Wow! And how did your team handle that?
TS: We dressed everybody! We did a lot of rentals, some shopping, a lot of altering. You re-purpose a lot of things to fit every person in the film. Because for a contemporary film, you can send out wardrobe specs and you can say "in this scene, bring these type of things" but since this is kinda a timeless, futuristic film, you pretty much have to dress everyone. I think the only thing people brought were their shoes!
SL: Well that's helpful! Were there any modern trends that you wanted to work into your designs? Anything you were seeing today that you wanted to bring to the movie?
TS: We just tried to do certain things within the Capitol to create little trends. There's this milliner I found that does these Origami hats, and we did that as a trend. And I found another milliner that does hats that are like a molded felt in non-tradition shapes. We did color blocking, prints, all florals -- because I thought that some of those people could have been past victors from other Districts. We had one guy from the Masonry District, so he wore a Moschino suit that was an all-brick pattern. When I found it I was like, "this is amazing!" it has to be the Masonry District! So it's just incorporating different themes throughout society. For example, in Japan there are all these sub-cultures. They're all Japanese, but there's the Rockabillies, Sunflower Girls, there's the Harajuku Girls: so I tried to do something similar in the Capitol. People are quite different, no one looks like they shop at the same store.
SL: Did the performers that you were working with have any influence on the wardrobe, or was it mostly just focused on the characters?
TS: You mainly go about it for the character, and then you bring in specifics for the actors' body types, comfort level -- thinking about the silhouette that works best on someone. But you mainly go the direction of the character, and have that discussion with the director and with the actor. For example, "Here's what I feel would work for Katniss and here's why," and of course they'll have their input, which is such a great help -- the little things they may be holding on to for the character. And for me, I was new to this, so it was really important to me to know how they all felt when it came to these characters, because they've lived it for so long.
SL: This MAY be the hardest question, but could you choose a favorite look from the film? Even a couple!
TS: I'm going to give everyone that asks me this question a different look, because then it'll cover all my favorites!
SL: That's perfect!
TS: There are so many looks that I love. One of the things that I really loved was Finnick's interview costume, because it's so simple but -- his skirt -- well, he's in a skirt, which I love! I love Sam [Finnick] for letting me put him in a skirt. A lot of the male characters wound up wearing them, but they're like gladiator skirts, almost kilt-like. So he's in this long skirt that has real fish pelts down the front and a gauze top, which is belted, and these big boots. And a mother of pearl necklace, which he wears because Annie gave it to him before he left. So that's the sensitive side of him that nobody knows, but he knows it. And there's a moment where he looks into the camera to say who he loves, and he knows it's Annie. All of the Capitol girls he's slept with think it's them, but it's Annie! It's a sweet side of him. And the look is effortless. It has a bit of a Jesus vibe to it with the shroud and the skirt, but he's an unsung hero.
SL: What do you think was the biggest turning point in your career?
TS: I think The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It's a project that I'm extremely, extremely proud of, and I am forever grateful to David Fincher for trusting me and handing me Lisbeth Salander to help create. It's a project that's really close to my heart. Rooney [Mara] is really incredible, and I feel so fortunate because the two major films that I've done, I've been able to work with these extremely talented directors, and these extremely talented young female actors that have such a range, could take on really any part. And to me, it's super hopeful because they're this era of Hollywood that I think we had years ago, like how we look at Meryl Street and see the longevity of her career, she could do anything. I think these two women [Rooney Mara and Jennifer Lawrence] have that same capacity. I feel so honored and privileged to have worked with women like that, actors who take their craft so seriously but in the same sense are the funniest, most down to earth women you could meet, are gracious, and lovely to everyone. In my personal view, no matter what anyone else regards it as, Dragon was a massive undertaking and turning point. If I had to do it all over again the same way, I would.
Click through the gallery above to get a sneak peek at some of the costumes for the upcoming Catching Fire!