MTV spoke with Judianna Makovsky in advance of the Costume Designers Guild Awards where she isn’t just nominated for her work in The Hunger Games but she is also being honoured with a career achievement award. She shares her inspirations for the looks of the characters in The Hunger Games and what her biggest challenge was.
What was the research process like?
It involves tear sheets, looking at different designers, and tons of research. The one thing that [director] Gary Ross didn’t want to do was create the generic futuristic world that’s been done a lot in movies, with stretchy clothing and asymmetrical dresses, you know? Instead, we wanted to root it more in the Americana mid-century look, with very retro influences. I looked at designers from the ’30s to the ’50s and tried to figure out a way for the costumes to have their own look, but also maintain the feeling of that era. It’s important that the audience can relate to the character, and it’s hard to do that when it’s in some sort of alien world.
I feel like the costumes for the reaping scene definitely had that Americana feel.
Yes, and that’s what we were going for. We did a lot of research about American coal mining towns, and something we realized was that American workwear hasn’t changed in 150 years. So we wanted to keep that timeless feeling with a lot of classic, simple clothes, but at the same time making it clear that Panem was dressed in their Sunday best. After all, the reaping is a BIG deal. …
And then finally, we HAVE to talk about Katniss’s fire dress!
That was in instance where I branched away from the book, because it was described as being covered in stones. I was worried that covering it in stones was too over the top— we really wanted to keep is so Katniss’s natural beauty could shine through, so that it wasn’t the dress that was making her pretty. Also, we had to assume there were people hadn’t read the book, so we didn’t want to give it away that it catches fire. So after looking at everything from old Ginger Rogers movies to Alexander McQueen, we decided to go with a very useful shade of red and have the movement of the dress really start at the bottom.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during filming?
Weirdly enough, the weather! We shot in North Carolina and the heat there was overwhelming. It was tough trying to keep Jennifer, Josh [Hutcherson], and everyone comfortable so that they could move and still look vaguely like the description.