THE HUNGER GAMES
Costumes, Hair and Makeup
Equally key to Panem's vivid reality is the work of costume designer Judianna
Makovsky, who has been a regular collaborator with Gary Ross. Yet this film
would take them places they've never before explored. "This isn't the type of
design we usually do," admits Makovsky. "It gets into realms of fantasy fashion
in the Capitol, but we also wanted the look to be recognizable and relatable,
taking today's haute couture a step further. For me it was a wonderful
challenge. How often do you get the chance to do such outrageous clothing, hair
Makovsky started with the vast, yin-yang contrasts between the Districts and
the Capitol: the former as rough-hewn and raw as it gets, the latter with no
limits to its excess. "The Districts have very limited palettes," she explains.
"They're gray and blue-gray. Then, when you get to the Capitol, we have two
palettes: one is bright pastels, with lots fuchsias and turquoises, and the
other is more acidic yellows and greens. There's a meanness to the Capitol, so
we also decided to put a lot of black in there to mute the brightness and
Katnissclothes also shift as she moves from District 12 to the Capitol.
"The clothes in District 12 are all work wear and Katniss has mostly
hand-me-downs," Makovsky says. "On Reaping Day, she wears the blue dress
described in the book, and we found a great vintage fabric that has the has the
right kind of simplicity to it. But when she gets to the Capitol, her chariot
costume is a leotard and tights with tall boots and it all has a very shiny,
As for Katniss' famed "Girl on Fire" dress, Makovsky thought about the
intentions of the man who, in the story, designs it: Katniss' stylist for the
Games, Cinna. "Cinna's a very elegant man, so we thought he would design an
elegant dress, and only when it twirls would the flame within the bottom of the
dress suddenly become visible," Makovsky says. "We wanted the dress to feel more
high fashion than 'Dancing With The Stars.' We added Swarovski crystals so it
sparkles when she moves, but when she's standing still, it's just a beautiful
dress with flame-like pleats."
Makovsky approached one of the story's most flamboyant dressers - Effie
Trinket - with care, talking at length with Elizabeth Banks about her take on
the character. "We agreed that Effie is both a little prim-and-proper and
outrageous," Makovsky says. "There's a bit of 'schoolmarm' about her, but she's
also a bit sexy. When she's in District Twelve, she contrasts starkly with the
people there. But when she gets to the Capitol, her look gets wilder and
crazier. Her sleeves get larger, the colors get brighter and she changes wigs
with every costume, from pink to green to lavender."
Banks was thrilled with the process. "We all consulted over email back and
forth," she recalls, "and I had many, many fittings. Suddenly one day it was
like, 'There she is! There's Effie!!'"
Like Banks, Woody Harrelson had very specific ideas for the look of Haymitch
Abernathy. "You might think he'd be disheveled, but my take on him was he's a
little bit of a bon vivant in dress," Harrelson says. Adds Makovsky: "With
Haymitch's look, there's a sense that he's created an outward persona that isn't
who he really is - he's putting on a bit of an act. There's this sort of
Edwardian dandy style to him. He's refined but also a little dangerously sexy."
Most of the costuming details came straight from the novels - from Caesar
Flickerman's blue hair and suit and Cinna's gold eyeliner to President Snow's
scruffy beard and the Peacekeepers' gleaming white uniforms which Makovsky
wanted to be both of another time and recognizable as police. "The Peacekeepers
needed to stand out enough to be scary, but I didn't want them to look like they
came from another planet," she explains. "The uniforms follow the basic shape
that exists today in motorcycle cops and SWAT teams, but we take it a step
further. And since they don't really have hand-to-hand combat but use electronic
wands, they can look very elegant."
For the outfits worn by the Tributes, however, Ross and Makovsky instituted a
change. "In the book, everybody wears exactly the same thing, but in a film you
have to be able to see the Tributes in the woods and know who each person is,"
explains the costume designer. "So Gary made the decision that each District
would have their own color jacket but everything else would remain the same. For
the jackets, we worked to create something that looks high-tech but that would
be lightweight and versatile, allowing us to hide padding and harnesses for all
the stunt work."
The bold design extended to hair and makeup, with as many as 80 hair and
makeup artists working in a single day for the film's large crowd scenes. Lead
makeup designer Ve Neill, a three-time OscarĀ® winner, says THE HUNGER GAMES "is
a makeup designer's dream with everything from high-fashion and avant-garde
beauty to prosthetics and injuries, a vast scope and challenge for any artist."
Following the trajectory of the costumes, Neill's makeup work begins in
gritty shades of beige in District 12 only to erupt into a rainbow array in the
Capitol where Neill attempted to straddle the fine line between the playfulness
of luxe fashion and outright comedy. "The idea was for the Capitol to be
visually stunning in a way very close to the book, but without looking silly.
The men of the Capitol are extremely groomed with colored hair and the women all
have bleached eyebrows, giving them a very austere look," she explains.
Once the Tributes are in the arena, the makeup changes again to become more
stripped-back and real as the contest for survival starts among the Tributes in
the forest. "That part of the film became about dirt and cuts and Tracker Jacker
wasp bites," she notes.
Lead hair designer Linda Flowers felt liberated by not having to comply with
current trends. "There were no boundaries and nothing holding me back from being
creative," she says. "I loved that there were so many interesting colors and
textures in the hair for Panem. You don't get that many opportunities to do
things like lime-green hair! But the big challenge was finding the balance of
creating interesting, original looks that you can also take seriously, because
the Capitol isn't supposed to be whimsical. It's a society with a mean core to
it and that has to come across."
For Katniss, Flowers remained faithful to her signature braid, creating a
side-swept style that is practical yet distinctive and took 20 minutes each day
to prepare. "We stayed very true to Katniss' look from the novel, adding just a
few touches to make it more visually interesting," she explains.
Other Tributes went a bit farther afield. "For Clove, I was inspired by those
Kung Fu movies with women in ponytails, so we made her a kind of tier of
pony-tail balls that really suit the character. Glimmer is very glamorous so she
has this pretty fishbone braiding. And Rue's hair is very innocent because she's
the youngest," explains Flowers.
There were days shooting on the Capitol sets when the hair and makeup teams
had to oversee more than 400 wigs, 500 pairs of bleached eyebrows and hundreds
of extras flowing through the process of transformation into the Capitol's idea
As with Messina's work the bottom line was a sense of reality - albeit an
imaginative one. "Judianna Makovsky and Ve Neill created a look that doesn't
feel outlandish, but one rooted in the history of American customs," summarizes
Jacobson. "One of Gary's strengths on this film was maintaining a consis
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