If you thought that this weekend's new cinema slate could muscle The Hunger Games off of its top perch with a combination of inflated 3D ticket prices and 90s nostalgia, you were sadly mistaken. Neither the 3Dified Titanic sinking, which grossed $17.4 million, nor the fourth tired installment of the American Pie franchise ($21.5 million) attracted enough theatergoers to keep The Hunger Games from its third weekend at numero uno, this despite the fact that according to a consensus of fashionistas pretty much everywhere, the dystopian film's costumes were less than fabulous. In fact, they were downright cheap.
Fashion photographer Joshua Jordan told the New York Times that Panem's wardrobe, which some had hoped would offer the richness of the costumes in 1982's Blade Runner, "looked cheaply made." Jordan added, "You wanted it to bring you to an evil Thierry Mugler place, and it didn't. It has nothing on the fashion business." That's probably true because The Hunger Games costumes are part of the movie business, a quite successful part of it if box office numbers, merchandise sales, and palpable cultural fervor are to be trusted. Others such as Lorenzo Martone (Marc Jacobs's ex-boyfriend and marketing strategist) echoed Jordan's sentiments, criticizing the film's costume designers for a lack of imagination. "I think they spent a lot of money," said Martone, "but I don't know if it was money well spent. It just seemed like a tuneup of things we already have today. I thought, ‘All this effort, and this is what the future looks like?'"
Future generations, as Suzanne Collins imagines them, have seen some shit, probably nuclear war and maybe an abbreviated zombie apocalypse. In the wake of all these struggles, the residents of Panem's capital want to focus on things a little more trivial than war, like hairdos and sparkly bangles. Collins can devote entire passages to describing outrageous future ensembles, but the movie has other obligations to meet first, namely, killing some kids. In the rush to capitalize on the success of Collins' books, costume design seems to have gotten pushed to the backseat in favor of a shotgun-seat for action sequences, and the prismatic wigs and zoot suits, therefore, that Gary Ross throws over his cast don't quite cut it for most viewers. Jewelry designer Alexis Bittar, however, loved what he saw onscreen, lauding the "over-the-top" and "tacky" style as an intentional critique of an out-of-touch power elite that's so heavily feted and leisurely that only the annual slaughter of a bunch of kids can tickle its collective fancy.
In that sense, observes Bittar, audiences wouldn't want to envy the elite's fashion sense because the elite is, like, super callous and awful to everyone else. Still, critics of the The Hunger Games have a point that the wardrobe department may have slacked off a little and borrowed those training jumpsuits that Katniss and Peeta scoot around in from the closet of the ill-fated Chris Klein starring vehicle Rollerball. Lazy costume design, though, hasn't stopped The Hunger Games from making tons of money, just as painstaking costume design didn't seem to help Mirror Mirror rake in more than a single-digit weekend gross.
Katniss cannot be stopped [Atlantic Wire]
Costumes Fight for Life, Too [NY Times]