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Trish Summerville: “Game Changing” Costume Designer?

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Each month, Arts Illustrated, a pan-India magazine, does a Fabric of Cinema column. This month, the editor of website Clothes on Film, Christopher Laverty, talks about the work of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire costumer designer, Trish Summerville.

In particular, Laverty talks about the work Summerville has done for her female characters, which is more sex-based, rather than gender-based, considering none of the characters she has dressed conform to “pre-established definitions of masculine or feminine”. It allows the characters to achieve wonderful things,

not because of their sex, or in spite of it, but because of raw, unabashed talent.

Known for her breakthrough work in the Hollywood version of The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, and now with her work on Catching Fire, it is no surprise that Summerville is gaining a reputation (and being praised) for working on films with strong female characters.

Laverty considers Summerville a “new breed” of costume designer, as she

has learned to coexist with the world of fashion, using it, inspiring it and, most significantly, embracing it as a tool and not a threat. Summerville might well be the bridge that both industries have been trying to build for decades. This is why she is a game changer.

This article on Clothes on Film backs that statement up, by suggesting that Summerville’s “willingness” to embrace the world of fashion and “its influence on cinematic costume design” makes her “almost unique”.

The same article includes an excerpt from Laverty’s Fabric of Cinema column, where readers learn that for Catching Fire, Summerville had to use already established fashion designers for costumes, as there was not enough time or money to design and create everything on her own. Therefore, she employed fashion houses like Alexander McQueen (Effie’s butterfly dress, anyone?), Tex Saverio and Iris Van Herpen to create the stunning looks of the film. However, by using designers for her costuming, this lead to the misconception that she did not costume the movie, but only styled it.

Laverty puts this misunderstanding down to the press interest only focusing on Jennifer Lawrence and Elizabeth Banks wearing designer couture.

It is quickly forgotten that Summerville had to make costumes for all the tribute actors featured in the movie. Her ‘game suits’ are a marvel of sartorial engineering: each one created from separate modular sections in order to fit 24 very different body types…

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Considering that the game suits are what the actors wear for a large part of the film, it is confusing as to why anyone would say Summerville was only “styling” the film. Who do they think made these suits? I’ve certainly never seen them on a runway anywhere.

However, Summerville continues to prove all naysayers wrong, and is continually being recognised for her work in film whether it be as a featured designer at a film costume exhibit in LA, being written about in art magazines or being nominated for awards.

To read the whole Clothes on Film article, click here. The article contains an excerpt from Laverty’s discussion of Summerville. The remainder of it, as the Clothes on Film article cutely suggests, can be read by

purchasing Arts Illustrated either in PRINT or ONLINE. We promptly suggest you do so with no bias whatsoever.

Congrats to Trish for all the deserved recognition!

About Hannah Chong

At 20-years-old, Hannah just graduated from university with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in Creative and Professional Writing and a minor in Entertainment. Loves puns, sleeping, film and TV, books, her husky and musical theatre.

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‘Catching Fire’ Costumes Featured in Movie Costume Exhibit

Costume designer Trish Summerville is a featured designer at this year's "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.

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