The Costumes of ‘Agent Carter’ that Already Make it Great

It may not have escaped your notice that a) there is an Agent Carter TV show about to start (but not in the UK because TV schedulers are ridiculously stupid) and b) I freaking love Agent Peggy Carter and Hayley Atwell. Proof to be found here, here,  here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Told you. Agent-Carter-poster-570x760 So Agent Carter is set in 1946 after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) but before those of the Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter (2013). Peggy is working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) dealing with the sexism that accompanied women working in the 1940s. The imdb synopsis for the show is ridiculously inaccurate: Screen Shot 2015-01-03 at 20.01.18 Yes Peggy was involved with Steve Rogers but that wasn’t all that she was. Moving on. This post is mostly to appreciate the costume design work by Giovanna Ottobre-Melton that we’ve already seen in promo pictures. I’m excited and so should you. The images gathered below have been released by Marvel and, I think, are all from the first two episodes.HAYLEY ATWELL Peggy’s blonde! She’s undercover! In a gold low-cut dress – very different from the dresses we’ve seen Peggy wearing so far.HAYLEY ATWELL, DOMINIC COOPER I just included this for the shoes.agent-carter-1-800 Wide lapels with both the blouse and jacket and the blouse lapels are beautifully edged to add structure and focus. Adds a contrast with the stricter tailoring of the jacket.B6RrJ5XIYAAtvni.jpg-large More tailored 40s but with some gathering at the waist to soften the shape and pink detailing to brighten the navy blue.2051104_CA_Agent_Carter_KDM_ A different version of the earlier wide lapelled jacket and blouse but different shapes. My favourite part is the double lapels on the jacket.Agent-Carter-600x450 More blouse and fitted jacket combination but this time – check out those pinstripes! Amazing! The waist dart that finishes just below the bust changes the pinstripes and gives further detailing. The horizontal pinstripes at the centre front are another detail that adds to the suit.HAYLEY ATWELL

Here is a better photo of the edged wide lapelled blouse – reminds me a little bit of Peggy’s blouse in CA:TFA.

Ottobre-Melton is the fifth costume designer to take on Peggy Carter: Anna B. Shepherd in CA:TFA, Ellen Mirojnick and Timothy A. Wisnick in MO-S:AC and, briefly, Judianna Makovsky in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). She’s got some big shoes to fill but these images fill me with more anticipation and happiness.

S x

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Costume Review: ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1’

There be spoilers in costume discussions…

Kurt and Bart had some big shoes to fill when they took over costume design duties from Trish Summerville but Mockingjay is a very different beast from Catching Fire, which was itself noticeably different from The Hunger Games (designed by Judianna Makovsky). Summerville was able to play around with lots of extravagant costumes for scenes in the Capitol and for the victors but Kurt and Bart have certain restrictions working on a film mostly based in District 13.

Katniss

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As with all the inhabitants of District 13, Katniss is provided with a utilitarian costume of grey cargo trousers and a grey shirt. (Oddly this costume is slightly reminiscent of her reaping costume in Catching Fire.) Shown above is her Mockingjay costume designed by Cinna before his death. The costume takes references from real soldier’s armour and is functional as well as interesting. The initial idea behind the Mockingjay costume was as a symbol but it was realised for practical and protective wear. Whenever Katniss has been in the games her “protective wear” was decided by the Capitol and was fairly limited in its effectiveness. This is battle ready. It marks a huge step forward for Katniss and her role in the rebellion.

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Katniss’s key costume piece is returned to her and remains with her when she and Gale go hunting. Her father’s leather jacket became an iconic piece of clothing for her and solidifies who she is.

Peeta

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Peeta spends most of this film in the Capitol and his costumes reflect that but there is so much more to them than just extravagance. His first appearance is in the white suit we see above. The lines are sharp, minimal and reflect Snow’s roses. The high collar of the shirt is noticeable here but is nothing to compare to the constricting collars yet to come. Peeta’s colours darken as his physical and mental state deteriorates. His gaunt appearance is emphasised with the tightening of the collars. His suits become his own personal straight-jacket.

Gale

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Gale’s costumes follow the standard clothing of District 13 and the soldier’s armour. His shining costume moment comes with Gale’s key scene in District 12. This is one of the most vulnerable moments that we’ve witnessed from Gale and the softness of his costume (seen above) reflects this.

Effie

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Effie’s costumes take on a very different role in this film. The first time we see her she purports to be a political refugee and fights against everything in District 13 (in her mind at least). Once Plutarch gives her purpose to help Katniss she begins to regain her identity through her clothing. Yes she is still limited by the same clothes as everyone else in District 13 but she uses these to her advantage. She is a creative person and creates the new Effie. She still has her high heels and accessories from the Capitol and she uses these to help rebuild herself.

Finnick

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Finnick doesn’t have too much screen time in this film and his costumes are generally limited to hospital clothes and the standard District 13 uniform. But, as with Gale, soft knitwear comes out when he is speaking in the propos. Finnick is not talking as a soldier but a victim of the Capitol. He needs to be sympathetic, sincere and approachable. The public need to believe and trust him. And the style of knitwear flashes back to his first appearance in Catching Fire.

President Snow

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Snow is trying to keep control over Panem. District after District are joining the rebellion and his main weapon (Peeta) hasn’t been put into action yet. He remains dressed in the sharp tailored lines that we have come to expect from him. These suits reflect his power and tight control despite troubling circumstances “moves and counter moves”. There are also many more instances of white roses included throughout the film and Finnick’s revelation makes them all the more disturbing.

Haymitch

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Haymitch enters the film just when Katniss needs him to and after he’s sobered up. For the majority of the film he is dressed in the District 13 uniform with the concession of a grey woollen hat and layers of grey cardigans. Could it be that without alcohol these are the only form of protection he has left? He sported similar jumpers in Catching Fire so the idea of safety in soft wool is not completely ridiculous.

Caesar Flickerman

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We always expect Caesar to be a bright and colourful influence on the film and this time he doesn’t have Effie to compete with. His suits are all fully patterned but there general tone is deeper and richer. There is much less extravagance shown here. This is no time for frivolity and Caesar’s costumes reflect this, even though this may not be instantly visible.

Overall, I was very impressed with the costume design in Mockingjay. The film has a more solemn tone and the costumes needed to reflect that. I’m very interested to see what Kurt and Bart have waiting for Mockingjay, Part 2. The world has entered a much grittier political ground and the historical references in the costumes are great for echoing that.

S x

Natasha (Black Widow) Romanoff’s Journey from ‘Iron Man 2’ to ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

Natasha Romanoff has an interesting journey in the Marvel films, not least that her character arc moves through different films with different protagonists. As the only female Marvel superhero (at this point) she sits in the ground between “pleasing” fanboys and being a strong character in her own right. The success of this in the films can be argued, just as her costumes can, but her existence is something we should be happy about. As a starting point.

(Mild spoilers for all three films.)

Iron Man 2

Costumes designed by Mary Zophre

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The first time we see Natasha Romanoff she is called Natalie Rushman and is applying to take over from Pepper Potts as Tony Stark’s personal assistant. She is dressed competently with elegance but not overstated. Her clothing isn’t threatening but still maintains an air of sex appeal – to gain the attention of noted womaniser Tony. The use of monochromatic colours also works to make her blend in with the background. An ideal situation for a spy.

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Now that “Natalie” is in Tony’s employ her costumes become much more fitted, colourful and sexy. She is doing all she can to fit in with his world. She is fulfilling his idea of the perfect personal assistant – she needs him to keep her around and to confide in her. (The dress looks like a combination of a few Roland Mouret designs.)

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This dress is in a much more sober colour but still has the fitted look of the earlier dress. This dress fits more with the Pepper Potts personal assistant role – is she changing her cover to become more like Pepper because that’s who Tony trusts implicitly? (The dress looks very similar to Black Halo’s Jackie O dress.)

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This party dress (Dolce & Gabbana) is much more in tone with the earlier coral dress. She is fitting in with the party crowd but still able to stand out. The second photo shows a scene cut from the film where Natalie is more openly and obviously flirting with Tony. This dress plays into that perfectly. She may be his personal assistant but she is also still a guest at his birthday party.

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Then we have the reveal of the worst kept secret – Natalie Rushmore is Natasha Romanoff who is Black Widow. A spy working for Nick Fury in S.H.I.E.L.D. This is the first iteration of the iconic catsuit. It’s very fitted (as you would expect) and the piped seams are there to draw your eyes down the whole of the suit. Add this to the low zipped neckline. Any ways that could be used to sex up a skintight catsuit without being too overt have been used here. It still works as a functional outfit but you wouldn’t exactly see this costume on a male spy/agent.

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Although “Natalie”‘s cover is blown with Tony she is now employed as Pepper’s assistant. Her costume now takes on a more sombre tone that is more fitting for Pepper and less seductive. Her role is to observe and protect Pepper and she is more likely to be kept on by being competent at her job than by looking sexy. The dresses still fit with Natalie’s overall look but they’ve been adjusted for the scenario. The perfect spy.

The Avengers

Costumes designed by Alexandra Byrne

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We have a new film and we have a new spy position. We never hear Natasha’s spy name here because her cover has already been “blown”. From the dialogue we gather that the mission began as a seduction and this is where the fitted black dress comes in. (Fitted but with a noticeable flair in the skirt to enable the gymnastic fight moves.) The dress also works as her Iron Man 2 costumes did in lowering people’s expectations. She is able to overcome the three Russians aided by this fact. One great touch is the exposed zipper at the back of the dress. Not only is this a modern touch but its adds a layer of toughness to the elegant dress – toughness that we expect from Natasha. She is a highly competent and dangerous spy but uses her sexuality and femininity to trick men. Is this an act of strength or weakness?

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The next time we see Natasha she still seems to be undercover but in a different persona. She is dressed to fit in with the world of Calcutta and also to put Bruce Banner at ease. We see that she’s hidden a gun so she is prepared for violence but she needs Bruce to trust her and a catsuit just won’t cut that. The colours are all warm toned and combined with the warm lighting and colours of the set mean that she stays fairly hidden in the shadows. The shawl that Natasha is seen wearing here plays into Bruce’s red toned shirt, creating a comfortable colour scheme between them.

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Now we have Natasha as herself, as a fully fledged S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. She is not in any spy persona. She wears tightly fitted jeans (to allow for combat?), a tough leather jacket (her personal form of protection?) and a red top to keep the warm tones that we set up in Calcutta. This Natasha is practical, not overtly sexual. She works in a male-oriented world and needs to be taken seriously be those she works with. Particularly when one of them is the first ever superhero and the other can turn into the Hulk.

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The new catsuit. This is still fitted by the fabric seems much more hardwearing and likely to give protection. The seams are no longer piped but flat felled to add strength and stability. They made add a level of sexiness but they are more practical and less obvious. The zipped neckline is still low but there is much less skin exposed. The Black Widow belt buckle (first seen in a much smaller form on the Iron Man 2 catsuit) is more focused and obvious here; as are the number of Natasha’s weapons.

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The Avengers saved the world and are taking a break. Natasha has gone back to jeans, a warm toned top and a leather jacket. This time the jacket is much lighter (still playing into her warm tones) and is less of a “threatening” statement. She will always favour leather for its protection but she trusts the people around her ad has gained their trust.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Costumes designed by Judianna Makovsky

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Another film, another catsuit. This suit seems to be a middle ground between Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. The neckline is closer to Avengers, but the fabric appears much more lycra-based as in IM2. The level of weapons seems closer to Avengers, with the belt buckle closer to IM2. There is much more panelling in this suit than in the other versions and means that, as a look, the suit has gone back to its more sexualised roots. There are leather side panels, bulked up shoulder pads, elbow and knee pads and a combination of flat felled seams and piped seams. But in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Natasha is barely seen in the catsuit. She remains Natasha Romanoff rather than Black Widow.

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From now on we have Natasha as Natasha. Many of her costumes remind me of Veronica Mars’ costumes – the jeans, jackets (corduroy and leather), stripes, hoodies. As personality comparisons go Veronica and Natasha aren’t too far removed. We’ve got incognito look one but it’s worth noting that the green corduroy jacket is still in the warm tones that we established in The Avengers.

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This is the most Veronica Mars-y costume. Natasha has chosen greys and more muted tones to help blend in to the background and hide from S.H.I.E.L.D. The greys are still warm in tone and we’re seeing layers as an off-duty form of protection.

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We’re back to pre-hiding Natasha. Black jeans, black top and a leather jacket. The main interest in this leather jacket is its clear 1940s Aviator influence. We’ve had those influences before surrounding Captain America: on Steve in Captain America: The First Avenger, on Peggy in CA:TFA and on Steve in The Avengers. This is one of the few obvious ’40s costume references in the film and it’s interesting that it’s found on Natasha rather than Steve. His costumes are much more modern than they were in The Avengers when there were clear repeated ’40s links.

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The last time we see Natasha is after her Senate subcommittee interview before she is off to find a new identity for herself. This is ‘blank-slate’ Natasha, but ‘blank-slate’ with leather protection everywhere. The leather blazer is smart and practical but tightly tailored at the waist. This is probably overkill and done to stop any chance that she won’t look like “sexy Scarlett Johansson”.

[I left out one costume due to major spoilers, lack of photo and specific spy mode.]

Natasha’s next appearance will come in Avengers: Age of Ultron, once again designed by Alexandra Byrne. Personally, I’m hoping for a return to The Avengers catsuit and hair. And maybe a comment on the arrow necklace she was spotted wearing in CA:TWS.

S x

‘The Hunger Games’: Translating a Post-Apocolyptic World from Page to Screen (Part Two)

This is a little late but here comes part two – costumes that have been moderately changed. These ones are still noticeably similar to their descriptions but not fully accurate. A lot of the time costumes need to be altered for the actors comfort (like Katniss’s hunting jacket), or to fit more comfortably in the setting. Film is a completely different medium to books and a little wiggle room is always needed.

Katniss and Peeta's Parade Suits

The first important costume in the book is arguably Katniss and Peeta’s opening ceremony suits. ‘I’m in a simple black unitard that covers me from ankle to neck. Shiny leather boots lace up to my knees. But it’s the fluttering cape made of streams of orange, yellow and red and the matching headpiece that define this costume.’ (p. 81) The suits are later set on fire and instantly set up the ‘Girl on Fire’ nickname that becomes so important to the rest of the book series.

And that’s an instance where things don’t always translate [from book to film]. Boys don’t look good in what girls wear. So [we were] trying to have a similar look, but cut them differently so that Katniss has this beautiful figure and Peeta looks manly. It’s very hard in a chariot costume. So we tried to make it even a little bit more special than the book.

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The costumes are not wildly different from their description but are much “tougher” than unitards. They have the same basic shape but look like leather which is definitely more threatening/dangerous than lycra. The main change comes from the cape and headdress description. This is missing completely from the film costumes. The flames were computer generated to look as real and magical as possible, if a floaty cape and headdress had been included as well it would all have looked a ittle too fancy dress and child like. Yes, the characters are “children” but they’re also essentially being sent into battle. The description works in the book because it establishes a mood and the specifics can be set by the reader’s imagination – this is something that cannot be afforded with the film.

Katniss and Peeta's Training Suits

Then there are the practice costumes. In the book this is another instance where Katniss and Peeta ‘wearing exactly the same outfit’ (p. 107) is used to separate them from the other tributes. None of the other tributes are dressed the same – this continues the link that was set up by Cinna and Portia at the opening ceremony. In the book Katniss describes her training uniform: ‘Tight black trousers, a long-sleeved burgundy tunic and leather shoes.’ (p. 106) The training uniforms worn by all the tributes are not too dissimilar from this, colour wise at least – black “workout” trousers and tops with burgundy flashes. These costumes work much better for shooting – short sleeves mean greater flexibility for actors, short length tops have the same benefit. The decision to have all the tributes dressed the same I think is used to illustrate their helplessness in this situation and maybe to compensate for the differences in their arena gear (more on that later).

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Then there’s THE dress. The true ‘Girl on Fire’ dress. (A dress I’ve been requested to make for a friend!) ‘My dress is entirely covered in reflective precious gems, red and yellow and white with bits of blue that accent the tips of the flame design… The dress hangs in such a way that I don’t have to lift the skirt when I walk.’ (p. 146)

In the book, it’s described as being covered in flame-like jewels,” she says. ”Well, to me, that’s very dangerous, because it could be like a Dancing With the Stars dress, or it could be extremely heavy so she won’t be able to twirl. Certainly, the bottom of the dress is covered in Swarovski crystals. It’s got all this stuff, but when you first see her, I just wanted this image of what I call ‘the Gypsy moment,’ when Natalie Wood comes out in the blue dress in Gypsy. She’s only been in these boys’ clothes before that, and you go, ‘Oh my God, she’s actually gorgeous.’ And that was the moment I wanted [for Katniss].

Katniss's Interview Dress

The dress was Makovsky’s biggest problem to recreate from the descriptions given by Collins and I think she did an amazing job. They knew from the start that the flames on the dress were going to be created via computer generation so the twirling flames are already sorted. Then there’s the dress when Katniss first sits down. The feeling of flames is given through the sheen on the red fabric – fabric that looks like a mixture of red and orange depending on the light. Then there are the panels of sheer fabric at the back, the jewels stuck to her skin and the ruffle effect at the hem of the skirt. There is a feeling of a flame before the CG is shown. The shine and “feel” of the dress is there without it being so big that she seems ridiculous to the audience; particularly when compared to those living in the Capitol.

Then we come to a perfect example of a costume description being slightly altered to allow for visual communication.

Katniss's Arena Gear

In the book, [the Tributes] all wear exactly the same thing in exactly the same color [in the arena], says Makovsky. For film, that wasn’t gonna work well. You couldn’t tell who is who. Gary was very specific. He wanted each district to have their own color jacket and then they would all have the same color trousers. It was my problem to find a look that looked good on boys and girls, and from kids that are age 12 to age 18. That was a big problem. What looks good on all of these people and how do we create that? All the jackets were specifically dyed — that took forever just to find colors that would read in the woods.

The Careers in the Arena

Above you can see the Career tributes with their different coloured jackets. District 1 have dark khaki with yellow elements worn with a green t-shirt and District 2 have deep burgundy with red t-shirts. As Cato is the final challenge to winning The Hunger Games that red will highlight the contrast. Their final battle scene takes place at nighttime and Cato needs to stand out and be intimidating for Katniss and Peeta.

We hear the description of Katniss’ arena outfit – ‘simple tawny trousers, light green blouse, sturdy brown belt, and thin, hooded black jacket that falls to my thighs… The boots, worn over skintight socks…soft leather’ (p. 175 – 176) In the film this description isn’t too far removed from what Katniss and Peeta wear.

Katniss and Peeta Arena Gear

You can see from the photo that Katniss and Peeta are wearing dark khaki trousers rather than tawny, black t-shirts rather than a light green blouse/shirt and the black jacket isn’t quite thigh length because that would’ve been a little difficult for filming by restricting movement a little. So although the arena costumes have been slightly changed from their description, it is all perfectly understandable for a visual medium.

So part two is finally done and I will make a move on part three. Maybe it’ll come out before Catching Fire. That gives me six months so should be good.

S x

‘The Hunger Games’: Translating a Post-Apocolyptic World from Page to Screen (Part One)

My previous posts looking at costume design from page to screen focused on an ‘adult novel’ and a ‘children’s book’ so now I’ve got the ‘young adult novel’ The Hunger Games (2008) by Suzanne Collins. That wasn’t really my reason for using it. It’s more because the hype for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) is building and Lydia’s HCGI post didn’t help!

I read the trilogy of books just before The Hunger Games (2012) came out last year but I don’t think I particularly paid attention to costume descriptions beyond those of the opening ceremony costumes and Katniss’s interview dress. I don’t know if this was because film footage had already been released or I just don’t pay that much attention to clothing descriptions (odd I know). Both are likely.

When I went through the book again to compare descriptions to their film counterparts I was surprised by the fidelity to the text. Sections of the book were not filmed (so that the majority of the film is focused on the Games themselves) so those descriptions become irrelevant – particularly when describing Katniss’s Madge. The costume designer for the film (directed by Gary Ross) was Judianna Makovsky and she understands the difficulty of designing a film based on a set of books with a strong fanbase – this is the woman who designed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001). (This was the only Harry Potter film she designed and she is also not designing Catching Fire… make of that what you will, she still set up the film franchise looks.)

Things change when you do a film, but you try the best — I try the best I can to be respectful of the material and the characters. I mean, it’s mostly about the characters, and even if you can’t do every detail that’s in a book, you want to get the essence of that character across.

I’ve counted eight “faithful” costume recreations (some may not be 100% but I’m not going to be that picky about it). This number is about the same as the number of costumes different from their descriptions, but there are also around five examples where costumes have only been moderately changed. Also, many of these descriptions relate to Katniss’s own clothes due to her role as the narrator.

Katniss' Hunting Gear

First costume for Katniss and the first outfit described in the book is her hunting gear. In The Hunger Games Katniss describes how she ‘slide into my hunting boots… I pull on trousers, a shirt, tuck my long dark braid up into a cap’ (p.  4). In the film she wears a jacket and, although I couldn’t find a reference to it in the book there is a definite reference to the hunting jacket in either Catching Fire (2009) or Mockingjay (2010) as it being her father’s. Makovsky commented on this to Entertainment Weekly:

In the book, the jacket is her father’s jacket and it’s oversized. When we did [it that way], it was like, ‘Oh, well, she can’t move in it. She can’t shoot in it and it doesn’t look very good on film, so just make a nice jacket.’

I’m including the description in the faithful category because, besides the jacket, it is. There are times to be picky and this isn’t it. Makovsky addressed the practical impracticalities of being that faithful to the book so it shows how much thought was put into that costume fidelity anyway.

Prim's Reaping Costume

Next, there is Prim’s reaping dress ‘a skirt and ruffled blouse’ (p. 17). A very brief decription but if you look at the image it is adhered to perfectly. Obviously the skirt and blouse combination is needed for the ‘little duck’ comments – highlighting Prim’s youth and the way Katniss “protects” her – but the ruffles down the shirt are not a requirement. They definitely add a youthful factor and I would suggest that the detail there was to mark Prim out more than keep faithful to the novel.

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‘My mother has laid out one of her own lovely dresses for me. A soft blue thing with matching shoes.’ (p. 17). Katniss’s reaping dress is not really described when you think about it. The key details are soft and blue. And that it used to belong to her mother. This final point tends to be overlooked because, in the film, there is no mass exposition about her mother’s background in the “wealthier” section of District 12. As Makovsky said “We wanted to make a very serious impact, and color was very important—to keep it mostly gray or blue”. The overall colour scheme of District 12 was the vital element and also the style: ”It has a very sort of mid-century, 1930s to ’50s feel — Americana,” Katniss’s dress definitely has a 30s/40s vibe to it (a beautiful cut and fit for Lawrence). It’s a classic dress but also timeless. It’s important for Katniss to fit in to the District 12 world so that when she stands next to Effie the difference is even more stark. The dress also has the effect of making her look much younger – as the gingham dress did for Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz (1939).

Capitol Inhabitants

Then we have descriptions of people in the Capitol. Most of the descriptions relate to their make-up or plastic surgery hey have had but the first time they are seen by Katniss she mentions ‘the oddly dressed people… All the colours seem artificial, the pinks too deep, the greens too bright, the yellows painful to the eyes’ (p. 72). The risk with designing these clothes was to have them looking too outrageous. The people are not a joke, but on camera if there were numerous people who had whiskers or green coloured skin then the world would be too removed from reality. The seriousness of children being forced to fight to the death for other people’s enjoyment would be lost in the absurdity. I’ve seen comments that people were disappointed that the costumes for the Capitol were too “safe” but I think that this is wise for the story. Makovsky mentioned taking inspiration from Schiaparelli and other sculptural fashion designers, such as Alexander McQueen and John Galliano. The silhouettes have clear 30s influences but taken to the extreme with brighter colours (as described). Their silhouettes then still just about fit in with the Americana world in District 12 – but in the couture world of the extremely wealthy. Just as in the 30s. The colours being that much brighter also reflects history – the time when dyes were so expensive that you showed your wealth by wearing brighter and brighter coloured clothing. The Games were clearly inspired by the Romans so clearly Panem looks to the past for the future.

The Hunger Games: Tribute Guide Peeta Interview Suit

‘Peeta looks striking in a black suit with flame accents.’ (p. 148). Moving away from Katniss’s clothing we have a description of Peeta’s interview suit that perfectly matched the film costume. Granted the description is a little limited and you could judge that the real reason for costume fidelity here was to play up to Katniss’s ‘Girl on Fire’ dress (which I’ll discuss later). But if we take from the description ‘striking’ then it is obvious that Peeta needs something dark to contrast his blonde hair. A black suit with red accents perfectly fits the bill.

Katniss and Peeta's Final Interview

The final faithful costume I’m going to discuss is Katniss’s ‘unassuming yellow dress… The sheer fabric softly glows.’ (p. 430). ‘The sleeveless dress is gathered at my ribs, not my waist… The hem falls just to my knees… I look, very simply, like a girl.’ (p. 431). Ok, technically it might not be exactly as described but it is yellow, it does glow, and she looks youthful in it. The bodice fabric isn’t sheer although it could be said that the tulle skirt is sheer as tulle is extra fine net. The “gathering” is just a fitted bodice at her waist and the hem is longer than knee length… I’m arguing my way against faithful costume but I do believe that it is. The important facts have been met.

So that’s part one done. I’ll get onto part two…

S x

Further Fashion and Costume Cross-over

Yesterday marked the release of some of Prada’s sketches for costumes for The Great Gatsby (2013). Today has led to two more reports of fashion designers taking a collaborative role in costume design.

'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' (2013)

The first “rumour” at this stage that I heard about involved Iris van Herpen designing A dress for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013). This was originally reported by The Hollywood Reporter. The article reports that an insider on the film referred to Herpen designing one of Katniss’s costumes but not specifying which one. Common thought has *SPOILER* Katniss’s (Jennifer Lawrence) wedding dress that transforms into a Mockingjay – the stand-out dress described in the book as the “fire” dress was in ‘The Hunger Games’. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never heard of Herpen (Lady Gaga is a fan apparently) but her dresses are eye-catching and unusual. They could definitely fit in with the aesthetic in the Capitol initially created by Judianna Makovsky for The Hunger Games (2012), but taken over by Trish Summerville for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Was this decision made to assist in the design of a possibly difficultly constructed dress? Or to up the profile of a, lets face it, very high-profile film? The second question is more cynical but when you see the controversy surrounding Black Swan with seven costumes designed by Rodarte – but fitting with costume designer Amy Westcott and director Darren Aronofsky’s vision – you hope that this will not arise over this one costume.

The black swan tutu from 'Black Swan' worn by Natalie Portman. Designed by Rodarte with discussion with Amy Westcott and Darren Aronofsky. On display at 'Hollywood Costume' at the V&A until 27th January 2013.

The black swan tutu from ‘Black Swan’ worn by Natalie Portman. Designed by Rodarte following discussions with Amy Westcott and Darren Aronofsky. On display at Hollywood Costume at the V&A until 27th January 2013.

The next story came from Vogue. Raf Simons, the current creative director of Christian Dior, will be designing the costumes for Sigourney Weaver and Isabelle Huppert in their upcoming film Body Art. In a way, this is similar to The Great Gatsby. Possibly. The current story is that Prada has created over 40 looks for Daisy (Carey Mulligan) in the film – it hasn’t been confirmed whether these are all of her costumes. If so, then this would be another example of a fashion designer creating one character’s costumes with a costume designer creating the other characters’. In theory, if the working relationship is healthy, the costume designer is in control of the clothing look of the entire film. It is their responsibility. Having a different designer take on one character shouldn’t make the character stand out from the world created – unless that is the specific intention.

Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale in 'Batman' (1989). Film costumes designed by Bob Ringwood, Basinger's designed by Linda Henrickson.

Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale in ‘Batman’ (1989). Film costumes designed by Bob Ringwood, Basinger’s designed by Linda Henrickson.

I remember a talk given by costume designer Frances Tempest at my university where she cited Batman (1989) as an example of one character’s costumes (Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale) designed by a different costume designer (Linda Henrickson) to the rest of the film (Bob Ringwood). This wasn’t Tempest being overly critical, she was told this opinion by Ringwood himself. Basinger had insisted on having her own designer. As I said earlier, if the relationship works then that can be fine. If there are miscommunications or an unwillingness to compromise or merely work together for the benefit of the overall design of the film then the collaboration can be a huge disaster. Simons designing for two characters in a film implies much more involvement with the costume designer and the director and hopefully will evolve into a great collaboration. But only time will tell.

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