Catching Fire costume designer Trish Summerville talked to Entertainment Weekly about her work, The Hunger Games franchise and more. She discusses the futuristic designs, her style and being respectful to the writers. She especially talks about the Peacekeepers’ costumes and the inspiration boards she assembled for the second movie.
What was the last look that you designed?
The last thing I designed would have been, I guess in Catching Fire, some of the looks in that are pretty intense, very colorful, so that was great fun because it took me completely into another world that’s not particularly my aesthetic. I like a lot of muted tones and unsaturated, washed out… and that was great because it propelled my mind to think in a really different manner because it is quite over the top. It’s kind of futuristic, but it’s not sci-fi on any level. It’s really bold and really colorful and quite campy at times, then it gets really serious. I tried to bring a little bit of darkness to it, you’re seeing a world that was already created in a book. You want to try to be really respectful to the writers, and you want to be respectful to the fan base, but then you also have to figure out what works visually and what you can bring to it as well. [And] I did the second installation so there’s certain things you want to be respectful about for the characters from the first one, but then also show a period of growth and transition.
I love the Peacekeepers that I did. I wanted to make them look a little more menacing, kind of insect-like. I draw a lot in my inspiration boards from different projects, a lot from nature, and animals, and insects. I just think that there’s so much there, in silhouettes and colors. The colors, they’re amazing, when you look in the insect world, and at in animals and nature. I wanted to make these Peacekeepers… after the first film, I felt like they needed to be bumped up a bit, because of what was going on in the second film with the rebellion that’s starting. I felt that we needed to show a transition, that the Capitol is stepping up its forces and making it much more intimidating and fearsome. So I went for this sort of spiny, praying mantis sort of look for them.
About your inspiration board, can you tell me what kinds of things are on it and how they inspire you?
For each project I do a new inspiration board. For Catching Fire I think we had probably 30, 40, 60 inspiration boards, because I did them for every district and every kind of character we had. On my personal board I have some photographs of native Americans, the Maasai tribe up, which I love, the east Indian painted elephants used for weddings and ceremonies.
Whether it’s for my designs or for my own aesthetic pleasure I’m really drawn to, tribal, native, cultural ways of dress. They’re so interesting and intricate, and generally have beadwork and metalwork. I also like the ideas that there’s this traditional, ceremonial fashion, but also this function. Like, I just recently purchased an image from a water.org benefit and they do this hike up Kilimanjaro to raise consciousness about clean water. There was this image that I just loved, and it was probably 20 Maasai women, in white beading and accessories, and I just loved that they all have on contemporary shoes. People go there and trade things for their jewelry and their cloth and things like that, and so this image is just all these beautiful Maasai women in traditional garb, but then they’re all wearing sneakers and flip flops. I like that. I like that they’ll make bracelets out of Coca-Cola cans. They take what they have and then make it functional and use very interesting forms of adornment.
What else is on your personal board right now?
I have an image of an Iris van Herpen dress.
How does that inspire you?
That one inspires me just because, it looks very insect-like. It’s so modern but it’s really structural, and I love the silhouette of it. It’s very extreme. I have some [pictures of] Haider Ackermann designs. I think he’s really genius and really chic, and his clothes are quite beautiful and really sexy. I have pictures of rocks and stones because I’m interested in doing a jewelry line. I’ve been doing some sketches, and on my table I have a lot of loose stones and rocks. There’s a piece of barbed wire from a bracelet I made. And then, on the funny side of me, there are some inspirational quotes that I put up from time to time. I have a picture of Obama and the Dalai Lama, some family photos.
What are you working on next?
I’m working on a movie, hopefully next year. It’s under wraps still. I’m crossing my fingers it’s shooting in [Los Angeles], which would be amazing. I live in Los Angeles. I hear the talk of Old Hollywood and how everything was shot here, but now so much stuff is shot outside of town.
Read the full interview here.