'Fit Check

Hunger Games’ Costume Designer Hid Fashion Easter Eggs In The New Movie

Trish Summerville discusses Jennifer Lawrence’s wedding dress, Christina Aguilera’s “Dirrty” music video, and more.

trish summerville costume designer of hunger games: the ballad of songbirds and snakes
Getty/Courtesy of Lionsgate

Panem will see chaos once again as The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the highly anticipated prequel to the original franchise, finally hits theaters on Nov. 17. Thankfully, Oscar nominee and veteran costume designer Trish Summerville will be responsible for bringing the dystopian looks to life — starting with the film’s protagonist, Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler).

“With Lucy, I wanted her to be more of that vaudeville, carefree musical entertainer,” Summerville tells Bustle. “You see that in her peasant blouses and the cinched-in waist. [She’s] always in a dress, very feminine, and very done up.”

The 2023 movie is Summerville’s return to the Hunger Games universe, after outfitting Catching Fire 10 years ago. (Remember Katniss Everdeen’s wedding dress, which burst into flames before turning into a Mockingjay? Summerville did that.)

Knowing the franchise’s storied legacy and dedicated fan base, she sprinkled Easter eggs throughout the new movie as tributes to the books and films. The hand-painted blooms on Lucy Gray’s corset, for example, are actually Katniss and Primrose’s flowers.

She also uses Tigris Snow’s (Hunter Schafer) pink skirt suit to recall a beloved character. “There’s a nod to a costume Effie [Trinket] wore, which was based off of a Lilli Ann design.” Referencing the suit’s “strong silhouette,” Summerville adds, “I just chose to exaggerate it more and nip it in a bit, but I wanted to have a through line.”

Some Easter eggs, however, she’s leaving for fans to uncover themselves. “There’s some little things with [Lucky] Flickerman that I want to see if the audience sees,” Summerville teases.

Ahead, Summerville discusses Jennifer Lawrence’s difficult time in costume and more Easter eggs from the new movie — plus, dressing Christina Aguilera for her famous “Dirrty” music video.

Fans still remember Jennifer Lawrence’s iconic wedding dress that caught fire. What was the most surprising story about that look?

There’s a couple funny stories of Jen trying to go to the bathroom or walking out onto the stage with Flickerman and just face-planting face down. And you’d hear her go, “I’m okay. I’m okay.” And because the dress was so big, you’d go behind her and prop her back up.

Courtesy of Lionsgate

So at one point, we put her on a giant dolly. We put a stool on the dolly and put her on [it], so we could run her from set to set. The bathroom was also a very interesting experience. We have a lot of funny stories tied to that dress.

It’s very on-brand for her to trip though.

What was amazing was she’d done these falls the same year she was up for an Academy Award. So as we were watching the Academy Awards and she walked up the stairs and fell, I texted her. I said, “Oh, Jen, thank God we practiced that fall so many times on Catching Fire. You nailed it.”

She had a very snarky comeback, which I appreciated. It was really funny.

What’s your favorite look from The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?

Lucy Gray’s reaping dress, because it’s that iconic piece [from] the books. It’s the same ideology behind Katniss’ dresses, about her Mockingjay and the dress on fire. I like that Suzanne [Collins] continued to have that through the books. I really love the corset. The hand painting came out really beautiful.

Courtesy of Lionsgate

You previously mentioned that the flowers on the corset actually recall Katniss and Primrose flowers. Are there any other Easter eggs in this film?

With Tigris, there’s a little nod to Judianna [Makovsky], the costume designer on the very first Hunger Games [who] created the world. It’s Tigris’ pink suit, with a really strong silhouette. [It’s] a nod to a costume Effie wore there that was based off of a Lilli Ann design, a designer from the ’40s.

I just chose to exaggerate it more and nip it in a bit, but [I] wanted to have a throughline and go full circle.

Courtesy of Lionsgate/Trish Summerville

There’s some little things with [Lucky] Flickerman that I want to see if the audience sees.

Conversely, in what ways, if any, did you ensure that Lucy Gray would be different from Katniss?

Their characters are so vastly different. Katniss [had] seen so many of the hunger games happen, so there’s a hardening there and a guarded side to her.

Lucy Gray is this less serious but very performative character. She’s an entertainer by nature and through lineage, so she sings, dances, and performs. There’s this lightness about her character.

I wanted her to be much more of that vaudeville, carefree musical entertainer. And so, you see that in her type of peasant blouses and the cinched-in waist.

Courtesy of Lionsgate

She’s very aware of what she looks like. She wears makeup, she does her hair, and she puts flowers and feathers in [it]. It was very easy to make Lucy Gray this light, very appealing, colorful character that’s always in a dress, is a little bit — I don’t want to say sexy — but very feminine, done up and alluring in that way.

Viola Davis looks amazing in the film. What was it like working with her?

I can’t say enough great things about her. She’s somebody that I am truly blown away [by]. I didn’t get to see her until about three days before she was on camera. So we did a quick fitting, then she went out to get her wig and makeup.

When she came back in, [she] immediately [transformed]. She started doing this thing with her hands. [She had a] twinkle in her eye [and] this little giggle. She immediately went from this really cool, earthy, fantastic, badass woman to this evil mad scientist within an hour of a fitting.

Courtesy of Lionsgate

You worked on Christina Aguilera’s iconic “Dirrty” music video. What was her first reaction to the exposed undies outfit?

She was cool when I said, “Let’s do chaps.” And at first, it was a little, “Chaps?” And I love motocross. That was the inspiration for that, ’cause she has a little tough edge to her.

She was always open about trying things and experimenting. That’s really beautiful. There’s something to be said about being in the public eye and taking risks and [being] authentic to who you are. People are going to have so many opinions about it.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.