The ‘Hunger Games’ Costume Designers On How They Created The Mockingjay Costume

How the Hunger Games Costume Designers Created The Mockingjay

Katniss - 2

by Emma Spedding |
Published on

The latest installment in the Hunger Games series, which sees Katniss and District 13 lead a revolution against the Capitol, is now in cinemas. There's a little less McQueen and a little more grey in this film, but the characters still manage to express themselves through their District 13 uniform. We caught up with the costume designers Kurt and Bart to discover what it was like to work with Jennifer Lawrence and the story behind the Mockingjay costume...

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."

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."

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.'

Did you have several of the same Mockinjay costume?

'Oh there was a flock of Mockingjays! There were different weight ones for different scenarios and different levels of activity. I think there was eight of them. There were versions underneath she could wear padding or knee pads underneath. There were at least enough to wear a different Mockingjay for every day of the week.'

How functional do the costumes have to be?

'Very! I think that's because Francis loves to shoot things in a real, organic way and not have to add on lots of special effects. When it came to our combat soldiers for D13, we wanted them to be really functional so we worked with the UK designer Aitor Throup. We wanted them to be lean and practical and we had a fantastic collaboration with him.'

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.'

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