The Hunger Games is a Feast of Fashion
The recent box office smash, The Hunger Games is not only a thrilling roller coaster ride for the senses but also a veritable feast of fashion. Costume designer for the film, Judianna Makovsky, had the extraordinarily daunting task of competing with the imaginations of millions of readers as well as Suzanne Collin’s brilliant sartorial descriptions in displaying exactly how our favorite characters would be dressed. Makovsky was up to the challenge of outfitting the fictitious world of Panem, after all she has worked on the wardrobe for films such as Pleasantville, X-Men: The Last Stand, and received an Oscar nomination for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
The Hunger Games is very much about dualities and this idea is reflected in the wardrobe. On the one side, there is the dank and pallid landscape of District 12. Here life is lived day to day and the future is always uncertain, therefore the costume choices were dark, grimy, and dismal. In an interview with Vogue, Makovsky explained that she looked to historical inspirations when finding ideas for the look of District 12: “We looked at a lot of photographs of coal mining districts from the turn of the century to the 1950s, because we wanted it to have a very American feel. We wanted to make a very serious impact, and color was very important—to keep it mostly gray or blue . . . very cold because coal leaves a black dust everywhere. But we didn’t want it so overly stylized that it wasn’t a real place—it is a real place—it could be Appalachia, you know, a hundred or fifty years ago.”
The heroine of the film, Katniss Everdeen, has a strength about her in her practical, earthy fashion. In the beginning of the film, she appears most strong and comfortable in her hunting clothes, which are characterized by a leather jacket, boots, and equestrian-esque trousers. Later in the scene of the reaping, where everyone donned what seemed to be their Sunday best for the sorrowful occasion, her look is quite changed in a plain blue shirtdress. The colors of the clothing in this scene are heavily muted and pale reflecting the lack of emotion of the people of District 12.
After Katniss and Peeta are whisked away as the tributes for District 12, they undergo a transformation to be presented to the populous of the Capital city. Katniss shines in her ornate costumes that her stylist Cinna, played by Lenny Kravitz, constructs to get attention and improve her chances in the games. The opening outfit of black leather bodysuits tipped with fire represents the book’s description impeccably. Her hair had an element about it, which was reminiscent of sort of a modern take on Princess Leia (from Star Wars.) Katniss’s interview dress was another important garment. Although it was toned down from the book’s description, it had similar elements of gems and a fiery nature, which the audience can’t get enough of.
Sinister yet frivolous, the Capital city has fashions that make some of our most avant-garde designs look quite tame. The imposing and futuristic nature of the Capital mixed with fashion of such a ridiculous quality creates an interesting juxtaposition with the fresh faced tributes of Katniss and Peeta. The character of Effie Trinket, played by Elizabeth Banks represents the Capital’s tastes in her overwrought, colorful ensembles. Makovsky declared that she wanted to give an edge to the people of the Capital, showing their frivolousness but also their dark side: “I didn’t want it [to be] silly, these are people who like to watch children beat each other to death in an arena. So it has to be a sort of—not meanness—but we looked a lot at Schiaparelli. She has a sense of humor but the stuff is beautiful and striking. We looked a lot at Italian fascist architecture that is very imposing. We used a lot of black to break such bright colors. I just thought it would be funny if these people, who have such a vicious streak in them, are sort of covered in flowers and ruffles.”
By: Sarah Humphries