You guys, it’s Catching Fire Month! Are you pumped? The second flick in the beloved Hunger Games trilogy hits theaters on November 22—and much as we’re excited to see Katniss, Peeta and the rest of Panem’s victors gear up for the Quarter Quell, we’re equally eager to see what they’ll be wearing into battle (and beyond). Enter Trish Summerville, the movie’s costume designer (and the woman responsible for transforming Rooney Mara into Lisbeth Salander in 2011’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, it should be noted). So incredible are Summerville’s Catching Fire screen ensembles, in fact, that she was recently named Costume Designer of the Year at the 2013 Style Awards—yep, for a movie that hasn’t even been released yet.
I caught up with the designer to discuss why she chose to take creative liberties with the Catching Fire wardrobe, what it was like working with Jennifer Lawrence and (of course) how Katniss’ much-discussed wedding dress came to be. Read on!
Lucky: When dressing the entire cast of a movie, do you approach the job differently if the movie in question is based on a book?
Trish Summerville: It’s definitely different if it’s based on a book, and particularly different if it’s based on a sequel. With Catching Fire, I wanted to be really respectful of the first film, and also respectful to what both the writer and the fan base were eager to see in the next one. I did lots of online research to find out what the fans wanted to see. Any changes I wanted to make, I first discussed with [Catching Fire's director] Francis Lawrence, and then we went to the author and would ask, "Can we take a little liberty here?" You know, there are so many things in books that just don’t translate to film. We can imagine anything, but then when you put something on a body it may or may not work.
What’s an example of something you decided to change from the book?
The Games costumes were a big one. In the book, I think it says that they’re blue and sheer—and that’s really hard to put on a body. Additionally, it’s very hard to put pads under if you have to do stunts—and they’re all doing stunts! Making something work on 24 different body types while still keeping everyone cool can be challenging.
We’re insanely obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence at Lucky. What was it like to work with her every day?
She’s fantastic. She’s hilarious, and she’s easygoing—a real girl’s girl. She gets along with everyone, and I think what makes her so endearing to the public, and to everyone that meets her, is that she has no filter. She’s a lot of fun on set—she interacts with and appreciates every crew member.
What sort of things would we find on your inspiration board for Catching Fire?
I drew from a lot of artists and a lot of architecture, but also a lot of bugs and animals. The Peacekeepers, for instance—I wanted them to look like praying mantises, very hard-shelled. There’s also this Alexander McQueen suitcase with a molded spine that I drew from. I wanted the Peacekeepers to be very spiny and insect-like. There are so many different environments from the story that I drew from, too—the pink skies, the fog that comes rolling in. We had vast amounts of vision boards.
What’s your personal favorite look from the movie?
There were two! Jennifer’s Victory Tour party dress that’s all embroidered with feathers and flames was really great and fun. And then Johanna, the tribute from the lumber district…her chariot costume was really great to create because it’s a bodysuit with three-dimensional printing on it, and a sculpted corset that’s made to look like wood, like a tree.
Effie Trinket wears a ton of Alexander McQueen in the film. How did you go about calling in all those pieces for her?
As I’m working on different projects, I tend to stockpile images that I like. And when I started reading about Effie, I just knew that McQueen would be a great fit for her—especially the more recent collections with the tiny little waists and metal belts. It’s very Effie to cinch herself in to the point where she’s uncomfortable—even if she does make it look beautiful and effortless. She’s constricting herself because she’s unsure of what her place is in the Capitol. I compiled this long list of looks from past collections, pieces I was interested in borrowing—and McQueen was so generous. They let us use both recent past collections and archival pieces, and we handled them with care. I threatened my whole team with death if anything happened!
Elizabeth Banks, who plays Effie, seems like she’d totally understand the importance of those clothes, too.
Elizabeth is so into fashion—she gets it. And during fittings, even without the hair and makeup, she’d just transform into Effie—she instantly became her. It was amazing. She really loved her costumes—I mean, maybe not towards hours 10 and 11 in those heels! But we did get her "comfort shoes" for in between takes, so…
Let’s talk about Katniss’ wedding dress—one of the most instantly recognizable costumes from the film! Where’d you start with that one?
I had found this Indonesian designer, Tex Saverio, a while back and was holding onto imagery of his to figure out where I might be able to use it. I always assumed it’d work better for editorial, though, because his designs are so elaborate and intricate. So when I got this project and found out I’d need a wedding dress, I contacted Tex! He and I worked via Skype discussing fabrics, him showing me sketches. It actually wasn’t a very long process—he’s extremely fast and really talented. Eventually, he flew in from Jakarta and we did a fitting with Jen. The biggest thing was to make sure that the dress, despite all its volume, could twirl and move.
Lastly, I know our readers are really excited about Capitol Couture, the capsule collection you’re doing for Net-a-Porter that’s inspired by the movie. Any hints you can drop?
We’re doing both clothing and a few accessories—a few in metal and a few in leather. It’s loosely based on some of Katniss’ pieces. There’s a leather jacket and pant that’s my tribute to Cinna. They’re all pieces I would wear myself as a stylist, and I think the collection’s something that both fans of the story and those who aren’t so familiar with the books and movies will love, too.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire hits theaters on November 22. Click through above for a sneak peek at the film’s costumes!