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Meet 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Costume Designer Trish Summerville

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire fever is heating up, as the sequel will hit theatres on Friday. We caught up with Trish Summerville, the mastermind behind the costumes in the film, to find out just how massive this project was for her, what it was like to work with Jennifer Lawrence, and whether she’ll be returning for round three. 

What was it that made you want to do The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Because Francis Lawrence (director) was attached! I worked with him in the past on videos and he reached out about designing the film, because he really took over the second installation. I like his vision and how he shoots. I like his overall aesthetics, which really got me interested to work on the project.

How many costumes were there for this flick?
We had about 50 to 60 principal actors, and Katniss [Lawrence] and Peeta [Josh Hutcherson] had the most changes—40 to 50 changes each. There were about 5,800 extras…I don’t know exactly how many costume changes we had, but there were well over 6,500 to 7,500 costumes.

Wow! What was the most challenging costume?
Probably the games costumes, just because all of the challenges that they had to meet. To find something that fit on 24 different body types, ranging from an extremely fit 19-year-old body to a fit 78-year-old body, and every body type in between. They had to be able to go in and out of the water, swim in it, run in the shoes, and crawl up walls. They had modular pieces that I had to incorporate and as a design aesthetic, I incorporated pads like several pairs of kneepads into the clothing to fulfill those particular areas, which were definitely the most challenging!

Sounds like it. How much input does Jennifer Lawrence have with her costumes?
Well, I have to say, the entire cast responded really well! I like when actors give input into their characters and we can actually have a dialogue and conversation about their wardrobe. I really went over each sketch and talked about certain things like colors with each actor. They would give their input or share their favorite costumes. 

Tell us about working with Jennifer.
She was great! You couldn’t ask for a better cast to work with. They all have really great chemistry together like Jennifer and Josh. Because of their history, working together on the first film, they’re like best friends. So the atmosphere on set was quite nice.

How many times did you watch the first film?
I only saw the film once. after I got called to design for the film. I read the Catching Fire book and the Hunger Games book.

Did you get inspired from any costumes from the first film?
I think we went a bit of a different route. It was a different director this time and the story line is much different, taking it darker and heightening the fashion element.  

What was your favorite costume in the film?
That’s tough! I have a lot of favorites. I keep getting asked that question and at one point I thought about just saying a different costume every time. I mean, there are just so many that I like…I do love the wedding dress and Effie has this one dress that I call the confetti dress, it is a leather dress that has multicolored dots on it like confetti and then we used these three dimensional black and gold butterflies that are painted on and it has a big crinoline underneath and a big ruffle at her neck. I really like that one.

What advice would you give to an aspiring costume designer?
The biggest thing is do research, know various periods and generations. You really have to just learn as much as you can about fabrics, construction and definitely time periods with the different fashions that are found throughout history. You need to know construction.

You’ve worked on everything from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to videos with Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera to Glory Days. Do you have an all-time fave? 
One my all time favorite things would have to be my overall creation for Lisbeth Salander for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. That is a project that will always be really close to my heart. It was such a dramatic transformation for her character.  

What’s the deal with your Net-a-Porter collab?
We’re doing a capsule collection with 19 pieces inspired by Catching Fire. Some pieces are inspired by Katniss, and some jewelry has an archery theme to it with bows and arrows. There are a couple of pieces inspired by Finnick, too. Some of the pieces are in the film, and others are inspired by the film, transitioned into a ready-to-wear collection. The capsule collection will be released with the release of the film; it will be worldwide and overseas. We’re really excited about it!  

Do you have any other big projects coming up?
Since July, I’ve been working on Gone Girl, based on the Gillian Flynn novel. So I’m currently on that now and will be until February. David Fincher is directing.

Will you be doing the next Hunger Games movie?
No. I’m not participating because I was already on Gone Girl. They are currently shooting it now; the cast is actually doing two films back-to-back.

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