MTV has got the chance to talk with costume designer Trish Summerville for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Find out how she managed to dress Katniss, Peeta, Finnick, and other characters of Catching Fire. She also mentioned her experiences working with director Francis Lawrence.
MTV: Having worked on both “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “Catching Fire,” how do these two experiences compare?
Trish Summerville: I feel so fortunate that I’ve gotten to work on these films and with these really incredible actors. Both the Lisbeth character and the Katniss character are such strong, fierce, fiery, smart women, and as actors, both Rooney [Mara] and Jen [Lawrence] are forces to be reckoned with. They’re really solid actors. They have so much range, and they are also really down-to-earth, kind, compassionate and hilariously funny women. I feel really lucky.
MTV: How do you channel that energy into the costuming?
Summerville: For Katniss, we have a base to go from — what the first film was — and we keep the hunting jacket and the hunting boots to bring her into the second film. But it’s also working with the progression of her character in this next segment. She is much more mature. She’s been through so much in her life, so you do see that change in her clothing, and I think there’s the thing of her and Cinna — they have this relationship where they understand each other. So even when she’s in Victors’ Village, where now she has money and clothing, she still wants to stay a woman of the people. So even though she has these new clothes, it still was quite relevant to who Katniss is. And then as we have that progression of her going through the victory tour, you see it start to bump up a little bit, and the closer we get to the Capitol, that’s when she has the most fashion-forward pieces. So it’s just trying to show that transition of her maturity.
And the same with Josh and the Peeta character. He’s in more suits this time. She’s dressed up more, but he, if you watch, he always kind of has the same work boots, but it’s cleaned up. But then it progresses into more of a fashion shoe. So there’s certain things for them that because they have a voice of their own now, they have a little influence over what they’re wearing. But it does fit into what the Capitol stylists give them to wear.
MTV: You and director Francis Lawrence both have music video backgrounds. Is that how you got involved?
Summerville: I think that’s how I got the call. It was from him, and we did videos together in the past, and one of my favorite videos is still one of the videos I did with him for Pink. I think it helped in a sense because we have that like-mindedness. It’s interesting. We [the stunt coordinator and I] were on the set one day, and we were shooting something, and he looked at me, and he’s like, “You don’t just come from film.” I go, “Why?” He goes, “Because you think outside the box. I don’t even think you think inside the box.” … I’ve done editorial. I’ve done fashion. I’ve done celebrity dressing. I’ve done music videos. All that, I think, helps round out how my mind frame works for approaching a project. With Francis, it was great because we do have that common interest.
MTV: I’d like to talk about a few pieces in particular, starting with the wedding dress. The description in the book is a little different, so what was your jumping-off point?
Summerville: Well, for the wedding dress, at one point, I was terrified because I think in the book it says there are 18 dresses that come. And I thought, “Oh my god. How are we going to get 18 wedding dresses that fit this?” In the script, with the time frame, we shot one dress. For that, a couple of years ago, I found this designer, Tex Saverio. who’s from Jakarta. I was really drawn to the designs that he did and just hoped one day this would be something. I thought, honestly, I thought more like, I’ll do an editorial where I can run that, because you can be much more free and extreme. When this project came along, and I knew that we needed this wedding dress, he was kind of one of my go-to people.
We had some Skype meetings, and I had an illustrator do an illustration taking a few different parts of dresses he’d done and compiled them together with the color scheme we needed and changed up fabrications for our practical reasons. He and I had these Skype meetings back and forth, and he was so great and so fast. He’d be like, “Let me sketch something, and I’ll call you back.” And a few hours later, I’d get an email of some kind of modified sketch.
[I explained] to him how I needed the cage to kind of have the inflection of fire going up around her face and doing crystals on that and what color the crystals should be and then having these laser-cut feathers put on, so that it’s subtle… And then with that, the fabrication of the skirt could be — we needed all this volume, but we needed it to rise when she starts to spin around. And that was a little bit perplexing for him because his dresses are so many layers, and he does a very couture type of work… It’s not really for function. It’s just for your day and beauty and a gown. And he was just great. And then on the first day, we tried the dress on her, and we had her spin, and it was like this “Ahhhhhhhh.”
MTV: And Finnick’s tribute parade outfit is going to be a little different as well? Not just a strategically placed knot of fishing net?
Summerville: You know, we’re PG-13. [laughs] We went to Suzanne to see if this is something we have a little liberty to change, because in your mind, you can imagine that as grand as you can, but to try to take that on to film, it doesn’t work sometimes. What we ended up deciding on was keeping true to the net. It’s a fishing net. It’s made of gold fabric. It’s knitted-together net, and I made him kind of a kilt. It’s more like a gladiator-type skirt, so he has that on, and it’s belted, and he has the shells on his neck, which he keeps the whole time. My backstory between Sam and I was that Annie — who he had to leave — it’s this necklace that Annie’s made for him so that she’s always with him when he’s away. He keeps it on the whole time … He was really relieved he has a longer skirt, and he kind of has tights underneath and kind of substantial boots. He’s bare-chested, and he worked really hard to get into amazing shape … I think it’s much more interesting than just the net. It would have been a little too Chippendales.
MTV: What was your favorite costume?
Summerville: I’m saying a different one [each time]. There are so many that I love. One of the ones that I haven’t mentioned so far that I love is Josh’s interview costume, and it’s the one that’s supposed to be his wedding tuxedo mirrored to Katniss’ wedding dress. It’s by a designer named Juunj. It’s a Korean designer, and I love it because I love the architecturalness of the jacket. It’s three-dimensional, the lapel. So the way it reads, part of it juts out. And then he has a metal-stand collar. That’s like a tuxedo collar inside of his shirt, and then he has a metal pocket square. So it’s like really high-gloss metal. It’s this hardness and softness of Peeta, which I think we start to see in his transition of his character. He mans it up in this one. He’s tougher. He’s fighting for Katniss and his life and his family, so I like the softness of the white that he has with these metal aspects.