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The Designer Behind the Wild 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Costumes: Trish Summerville

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 23, 2013 at 6:34AM

Who dreamed up and executed all those crazy costumes in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"? Relatively new to moviemaking, American costume designer Trish Summerville is known for music videos (Pink, Christina Aguilera, and Justin Timberlake) and dressing music stars such as Adam Lambert, Ricky Martin and Janet Jackson at stadium concerts around the world. That's why director Francis Lawrence asked her to create eye-popping show-stopper outfits, especially for archer Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Capitol fashion victim Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) in "Catching Fire."
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'Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
'Hunger Games: Catching Fire'

Who dreamed up and executed all those crazy costumes in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"? Relatively new to moviemaking, American costume designer Trish Summerville is known for music videos (Pink, Christina Aguilera, and Justin Timberlake) and creating show-stoppers for music stars such as Adam Lambert, Ricky Martin and Janet Jackson at stadium concerts around the world. That's why she was asked by director Francis Lawrence to create eye-popping outfits, especially for archer heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Capitol fashion icon Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) on "Catching Fire."

'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'

But Summerville, who worked with Lawrence years back on music videos and assisted costume designer Michael Kaplan on Fincher's "The Game" before jumpstarting her film career with Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," also knows how to do character work to serve the story. Her biggest challenge on "Catching Fire": managing the sheer scale of the project. It was all she could do to stay ahead of each shooting day.

While the awards season tends to favor high-brow --often period--movies such as "Saving Mr. Banks" and "American Hustle" from well-established insiders such as Catherine Martin ("The Great Gatsby") and Patricia Norris ("12 Years a Slave"), craft voters often veer away from critics' darlings in favor of idiosyncratic work like this. Remember, "Priscilla: Queen of the Desert" won the Best Costume Oscar. 

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in 'Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in 'Hunger Games: Catching Fire'

Summerville arrived on the second installment of the franchise; Lawrence brought her in before there was even a final script. For preparation she watched the first movie again and read the second book, "Catching Fire."

Music videos and concert tours also need a story line and theme, says Summerville. "I did tours for a long time which gave me a hands-on approach to costume designing, I was thinking outside of the box." 

Early on Summerville tries to figure out what the director wants as she does a script breakdown. "It starts with the director, his vision of what the world is going to look like," she says. "He knows the environment and the characters' back story."

Summerville and Lawrence talked about the color palette and heightening the fashion level in the second film as Panem's President Snow fights against ensuing rebellion. "We wanted to make everything more dramatic and darker and heightened, throughout the film," she says. "We didn't have to stay in one time, as fashion in the Capitol changes constantly. They have an insatiable appetite for clothing, food and entertainment, so we could change the overall feel. With Peta and Katniss, we changed how they live in their district as victors, with access to new clothes, to show their transition to maturity."

This article is related to: Hunger Games: Catching Fire , Jennifer Lawrence, Awards, Awards Season Roundup, Awards, Oscars, Interviews , Interviews


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.