There's something distinctly uncomfortable about critiquing the fashion in The Hunger Games. In the book, clothing is a marker of the role one plays in a totalitarian regime: the villians are futuristic Marie Antoinettes, with a grotesque interest in adorning themselves--we're supposed to be disgusted by them, not covet their fabulous clothes. The victims have other things to worry about than fashion, like staying alive.
So it was strange to me that some well-known voices from the fashion industry would choose to haughtily express their disdain for the movie's costumes in a New York Times article, and to do so in a way that was completely oblivious to the politics of fashion in the film. A sampling:
- The costumes “looked cheaply made,” said Joshua Jordan, a fashion photographer who has done campaigns for Anna Sui and Neiman Marcus. “You wanted it to bring you to an evil Thierry Mugler place, and it didn’t. It has nothing on the fashion business.”
- Olivier Van Doorne, the head of SelectNY, a fashion advertising firm that makes commercials for brands like Emporio Armani and Tommy Hilfiger, agreed. While he liked the film, he said he found the outfits “ridiculous.” “ ‘Blade Runner’ gave a vision of the future you’d never seen before,” he said. “With this, there’s nothing new. It looks like a lot of recycling stuff Jean Paul Gaultier had done before.”
- “This is not a fashion film. It looks too cheap.”--Sally Hershberger, celebrity hairstylist
- Paul Wilmot, the public relations guru who has worked for designers like Oscar de la Renta and Calvin Klein, simply called the film’s costumes “hideola.” (This did not appear to be a compliment.)
In fact, it reminded me of a retro dress Betsey Johnson designed a few years ago. A quick online search for "Katniss blue dress reaping" shows that people have built entire Polyvore sets around this dress. There are also at least a dozen YouTube videos showing you how to achieve her braided up 'do. I too loved her dress and hair, but not without a sense of major discomfort, an icky feeling that in Panem, I would be more of an Effie than a Katniss.
Did you see the movie? What do you think of the fashion industry's reaction?