‘Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’: How Lucy Gray’s Rainbow Dress Connects to Katniss

“You may know me from other stuff, but I don’t use a lot of colors, except when necessary,” says renowned costume designer Trish Summerville.

So, when it came to designing the main outfit worn by Rachel Zegler’s Lucy Gray in “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” Summerville, whose credits include “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “Mank” and “Gone Girl,” had to wrap her head around “a rainbow dress with ruffles and things she keeps in her pockets.”

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The rainbow dress was one of the first outfits Summerville tackled. But after several illustrations, she still didn’t feel 100% happy with what was in front of her. So, she consulted director Francis Lawrence. “That’s the beauty about reading and having books is you can conjure up your imagery in your head for each reader as to what it should be. It was a lot of boxes to check over; trying to stay true to Suzanne Collins’ vision and what she’s written in the book, giving something to the fans that would be visually appealing, and hopefully would please a lot of people, and pleasing Francis and giving him something that he saw and conjured in his head, and then, definitely making myself happy because I’m the one who has to live with it,” she says.

Even after consulting Lawrence, who was leaning toward one design, the costume designer, who has worked with him on three previous occasions, still wasn’t feeling it. “I told him, ‘I’m going to start from scratch.’”

Summerville wanted a connection between Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss and Lucy Gray, so she ended up with a corset shape she had used for Lawrence’s blue Mockingjay dress.

When it came to building the skirt, she gathered loads of fabric and leaned tulle and fabric that had stretch, as well as every color possible so her team wouldn’t have to dye every ruffle.

Summerville worked with L.A.’s Western Costume Company’s Kellie De Pietro and the cutting room team on exactly how the dress would be layered, what the scale of the ruffles would be, and how many ruffles she could fit in.

The corset and blouse were built by Lea Chaudat in Berlin where the production was filmed. Summerville wanted the corset to be hand-painted to help age the dress. The corset features snakes, but also the Katniss and Primose flowers.

In the end, Summerville required a combination of 8-10 pieces of all the different layers of the dress because of the action and “she’s in it for so long.”

Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird, Luna Steeples as Dill, Cooper Dillon as Mizzen, Producer Nina Jacobson and Lucas Wilson as Panlo in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Photo Credit: Murray Close
Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird, Luna Steeples as Dill, Cooper Dillon as Mizzen, Producer Nina Jacobson and Lucas Wilson as Panlo in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Photo Credit: Murray Close

As with the hundreds of hours that went into painting and assembling Lucy Gray’s dress, Tom Blyth’s Coriolanus Snow shirt was also detailed in the book. “He wears his father’s shirt, and Tigris Snow (Hunter Schafer) hand makes buttons from tile that’s in the bathroom.”

Summerville says, “I found organza fabric that had a black pinstripe and a white raised stripe through it. I thought that would be something she could take and add a tuxedo bib to the front of a shirt that would spruce up his existing shirt.” She continues, ”We built the buttons. Our patina team in Berlin cast the buttons for us and handpainted the buttons. I took those buttons to Uli Hanisch, the production designer so that he could put them in the tiles in the wall and Snow’s bathroom.”

When it came to the red of the Academy uniforms, Summerville built every single one. “I wanted to see this vein sea of red blood walk up the stairs and go into the school through the Capitol,” says Summerville, who was also working with the contained color palette of the Capitol uniforms of gray, blue, black, white and red. “For the uniforms, It was about finding a red that was complimentary on every skin tone, and for the interiors and exteriors.” She ended up going for a red with a blue undertone to keep a cool, cold feeling of the color. “I knew I wanted everyone to be the same because I kind of feel like the Academy and the capital is very much no one is special. So, the look was classic with a twist. “The kilt is a classic timeless piece that we’ve seen, and I wanted to incorporate that. I did a clean sport coat and jacket with no lapel on it and a Mandarin-collared shirt with no collar on their shirt and keeping it in this gray.”

“I wanted her costumes to have boldness and color. Everything was a lab-coat-esque in shape,” says Summerville of Viola Davis’s fashion-forward Dr. Gaul.

The idea behind her red and white lab coat was that it looked like blood was draining out. To achieve that, the patina team in Berlin hand-dipped the coat to give it an ombre effect. Summerville worked with Davis’ hair and makeup team to help transform her and age her. Part of that included covering Davis’ neck and hands. As for why Dr. Gaul wears gloves all the time? Summerville gave her a backstory. “We thought with all these creatures, she probably has a lot of scarifications on her hands.”

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