Costumes are a major component of The Hunger Games. But we really don’t see much of the Capitol grandeur in Mockingjay – Part 1 with the focus mainly being on Katniss thrown into a propaganda war with the rebels. Plus, District 13 is a colorless environment filled with grey and uniformity. Mockingjay – Part 1’s costume designers Kurt and Bart recently talked with Grazia Magazine about challenges of identifying wardrobe personality in District 13, working with Jennifer, and creating the Mockingjay costume.
On the differences between the first two films and Mockingjay:
The costumes in this film are very different to the first two ‘Hunger Games’…
Bart: “That was the most interesting thing for us. These characters had been really established and to strip them down and break them from society was great for us. It was also interesting to think how we would create something for these characters’ styles to come out of, even though they’re in the same clothing. Eiffe is the best example of that. Each character took the same base clothing and made it their own.”
Was it important to show their personality coming through?
Kurt: “I think so. Bart always references private school where you have all the same thing and people do little things to make themselves stand out, whether they are doing it intentionally or not. It can be subtle. When Katniss first meets President Coin it’s important for them to be on the same level ground – they are wearing the same thing. But Katniss is a little more unbuttoned while Coin’s top button is done up. It’s those subtle differences which help define characters.”
Kurt and Bart say when creating the Mockingjay outfit, they saw it through Cinna’s eyes.
For the Mockingjay costumes how did you design that?
Bart: We got to do so much cool stuff in this film but I think the coolest of all was designing the Mockingjay costume itself. It’s a costume designed by her stylist in the book – that’s how we approached it, through his eyes. He knew it was her destiny to become this Mockingjay. She was a symbol, but also she had to be a soldier in the field.”
Kurt: “We wanted it to be seen in different ways – we didn’t want her to become a super hero in an immobile suit that she can only wear one way. Her wings and shoulders are designed to be ceremonial, but the armour can also be taken off so you can see that girl again – you can see Katniss. Even if it didn’t have the wings, she could be out on the field and become a soldier.”
Kurt also explains how he was inspired by historical events to create District 13’s costumes.
What references did you use for the District 13 costumes?
Kurt: ‘We started out looking at really simple clothing designed for the people – which led us to WW2 and times of austerity in England. There were real rules about uses of fabrics and pleats and not using excess buttons. We approached District 13 the same way. We wanted these things not to feel like they were futuristic, but that they were grounded in reality. There’s a nod to that past and I think it ends up looking really romantic.’
They also comment on how fun and easy it was to work with Jen.
What is Jennifer like to work with?
Bart: “She’s fantastic because she knows the character so well. Jen is hilarious and the set is very light hearted and the actors are having a great time. All of a sudden, when it is time for action and she’s in the Mockingjay it’s like ‘there is Katniss!’
Did Jennifer have a lot of fittings for that costume?
Kurt: ‘We didn’t have a lot of fittings. A lot of different people were involved in that costume – specialty costume houses. Those elements are all very tricky and it was important for us and for Jen to have several fittings to make sure she could do what she needed to do in the costume.
Bart: ‘We would get her all strapped in and she would just take a handful of Skittles and go for a run.’
I definitely recommend reading the whole interview. It’s great to see how the costume designers are inspired to create the pieces we see on screen. To read the complete interview with Kurt and Bart, click here.