A look into the costumes in The Hunger Games

I have been meaning to do this post for a few weeks now, I even tweeted about it after I watched it at the cinema but alas, other commitments have gotten in the way. It goes without saying, well, for anybody who has seen the first installment of The Hunger Games that the costumes are fantastic. Even if some of them aren’t completely accurate to the book, costume designer Judianna Makovsky did an excellent job. She was influenced a lot by designers including Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Schiaparelli as well as the Elizabethan period which are all noticeable throughout the film.

For anybody who is not familiar with the plot, this is The Hunger Games in a nutshell through the words of director Gary Ross:

“In a dystopian future America [now called Panem], a nation made up of twelve impoverished districts, all ruled by a militant capitol where technology and excess are a way of life. Every year the capitol holds a televised battle royal, where one male and female teenager from the twelve districts must battle to the death for the pleasure of capitol. When a young hunter from District 12 named Katniss Everdeen sacrifices herself to save her little sister from the games, she embarks on a brave fight for survival that could change a nation.”

Heroine Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is shown at the start of the film wearing the above dress which is known as her ‘reaping dress’ in which Makovsky took the description from the book to create it. The dress has a very vintage feel due to the 1930s to 1950s influence and the fact that they wanted it to look like something that could have been a hand-me-down from her mother. Makovsky found some vintage fabric and dyed it until it was the perfect colour giving the dress a very simple and elegant look. All of the costumes in district 12 are supposed to look like hand-me-downs or workwear and therefore most are hand-made or rented from vintage sources. The amount of extras in the film was high and therefore at least 1,800 costumes were used throughout the film.

This dress is one of the most memorable costume moments in the film due to it showing Katniss in a completely new light. The dress is showing how she has transformed but not in the sense that the dress has transformed her, but how she has transformed as a person. It’s a moment, if not the only moment where viewers stop and think she is beautiful. The dress is coral-red with several layers of ombre fabric, pleating detail at the bottom and Swarovski crystals scattered all over it. Makovsky wanted the dress to be simpler than the description in the book, not as sparkly but more elegant and subltle with the flames at the bottom of the dress only visible when she twirls around. Caeser (Stanley Tucci) the talk show host has striking blue hair and therefore his costumes are typical of a talk show host, they stand out but isn’t overly outlandish as the blue hair says everything it needs to about him.

Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) sports some rather outrageous outfits throughout the film, especially when we first meet her at the start, wearing the above pink ensemble – she could give Dolores Umbridge a run for her money. Again, staying true to the book despite some slight alterations, Effie is noticeably eccentric in the way she presents herself. It’s not to the point in which it looks overly cartoon-like but comical in the way that she has a vicious streak yet is dressed in ruffles and florals. Makovsky aimed for Effie’s outfits to be the colours in which they were described in the book but chose certain shades in order for it to look slightly classic and tasteful.

Due to the location in North Carolina, it was difficult to figure out how to make the costumes so that they could be worn while shooting in 100 degree weather with humidity. The matching parade costumes in the above image were skin-tight which would prove uncomfortable in the heat and therefore were made into two pieces so they could get in and out of them as easily and quickly as possible. Here, Katniss is wearing her ‘girl on fire’ costume which many people think is leather but it’s actually a novelty stretch fabric with embossed plastic on top and stretch patent leather. The costume was created by Makovsky’s co-worker from the costume department of X-Men who has a lot of experience in creating striking costumes.

Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) plays an alcoholic and a previous winner of The Hunger Games, therefore has a lot of money which needed to me shown through his costume. He has an Edwardian cut to his clothes and puts on a front which confuses the viewers into understanding who he really is, despite the obvious referrals to his relationship with alcohol. He is a stylish alcoholic.

In the book everyone involved in The Hunger Games, all members of all districts wear completely the same outfit but due to the transfer to screen, it would be hard to distinguish each character. All of those taking part wore the same trousers but had different coloured jackets to tell them apart but it proved difficult to find appropriate colours that looked good on screen due to the location in the woods. Despite this, earthy colours were used which blend in with the background to the characters advantage but also distinguish each district subtly enough for it to not be an extreme difference from the book itself.

What do you think of the costumes in The Hunger Games? Are you a fan of the books?


The best costumes in film of all time part one

There are hundreds of iconic and much-loved costumes in film, whether it’s from a period-drama, a Hollywood classic, a musical or a modern-day favourite – there are so many it’s difficult to narrow them down to just a few … so here’s On Screen Fashion’s part one of the best costumes in film of all time.

One: The Seven Year Itch

I don’t think there’s anybody in the entire world that isn’t familiar with this costume … probably the most iconic costume in the film industry. The beautiful blonde bombshell herself Marilyn Monroe is in an ivory cocktail dress and in this particular scene, standing above a subway in New York which is also classed as one of the most iconic images of the 20th century. The style of this dress was popular in the 1950s and 1960s with the design being very revealing due to the halter neck, plunging neckline and pleated skirt which meant the legs, arms, shoulders and back were bare. The dress was designed by costume designer William Travilla and last year sold for $5.6 million at auction.

Two: Moulin Rouge

Nicole Kidman starring as Satine in romantic jukebox-musical Moulin Rouge wears this stunning costume while working her job as a cabaret actress/dancer at a night club. The silver rhinestone covered bodice has a black rhinestone covered bow tie  with silver star detail on her hips, fringe detail also on her hips and fringe detail dipped at the back. The top hat is made from black beaver-skin (dislike!) with black braid around the brim alongside silver diamantes. Costume designer Catherine Martin wanted the clothing to communicate the feeling of the late 19th century/early 20th century while also interpreting the looks for a modern audience. All of the dancers costumes are very different due to inspiration being taken from buckets upon buckets of research from divas of the ’40s and ’50s.

Three. Atonement

Keira Knightley’s green dress has actually been described as the best film costume of all time in a poll conducted by Sky Movies and In Style magazine. Although I disagree with this title, it is undoubtedly a beautiful costume and one of the best costumes of all time. The dress was hand-made by costume designer Jacqueline Durran and the emerald-green colour was specifically chosen to represent temptation and to coincide with this novel extract it is adapted from – “As she pulled it on she approved of the firm caress of the bias cut through the silk of her petticoat, and she felt sleekly impregnable, slippery and secure; it was a mermaid who rose to meet her in her own full-length mirror.” Director Joe Wright worked alongside Jacqueline to make sure that the dress was true to the book and this dress was produced which is made from green silk and flows as she walks as if she were underwater. There are actually three different dresses in the film, all of the same cut and design yet the shades of green are altered slightly to reflect Cecelia’s (Keira Knightly) emotion which meant over 100 yards of white silk was dyed in order to create the desired effects.

Four: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

If a costume could incorporate simplicity, chic and elegance into one it would be this one worn by Audrey Hepburn in the 1960’s romantic comedy, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She’s made the LBD or little black dress a fashion staple in every women’s wardrobe and all these years on, this dress alongside her glamorous accessories is very much an iconic costume in film history. The slim, basic black dress was designed by French aristocrat Hubert de Givenchy, or more commonly known as Givenchy which has become a timeless piece. The sleeveless satin sheath evening gown is floor length with a fitted bodice embellishment at the back with a distinctive cut-out and the skirt slightly gathered. The dress is very classic and the finest example of British glamour – it isn’t too revealing due to the length of the dress and the elbow-length black gloves yet with the shoulders on show it showcases definitive femininity.

Five: Elizabeth: The Golden Age

There is a clear transformation from the first Elizabeth film which is shown in the way that Cate Blanchett is draped in very different costumes. It’s 27 years later, around 1585 and she’s become a powerful, confident monarch who has very obviously had a journey in the way that she presents herself. Not focusing on historical history, the director Shekhar Kapur wanted the colours to be very different from the first Elizabeth film – he wanted them much lighter and feminine, highlighting the emotional journey with Elizabeth wearing blue, the colour of yearning yet not traditionally associated with England. Costume designer Alexandra Byrne got her inspiration from both research of the Elizabethan period and modern fashion designers such as Vivienne Westwood. The extraordinary scale of the skirt is deliberate, it’s to distinguish the space around her – you are not to be physically close to the queen therefore the skirt of the dress was much a much harder corset shape during public occasions.

To be continued …

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