Why the Hunger Games fashion line is deliciously ironic

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(Capitol Couture)

With the release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire only two months away, the marketing blitz is rapidly accelerating to saturation. The previews have been online for months, posters are lining the walls of theatres, the first part of soundtrack has been released (Coldplay’s Atlas) and now the film has tie-ins with Cover Girl cosmetics and its own fashion line, Capitol Couture, both inspired by the manner of dress and appearance of the Capitol’s citizens in the movie version of The Hunger Games.

Fittingly, the first ad for the Cover Girl product line aired during the MTV Video Music Awards, an annually televised competition where young people are dressed up in ridiculous outfits and from which only one may emerge the next day to the favor or consternation of a cheering, decadent audience (hmm, sound familiar?). Meanwhile, Capitol Couture, a fashion line of 16 luxury pieces designed by Trish Summerville, costume designer for Catching Fire and the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (which also inspired a fashion line), will launch sometime before the film’s November 22nd opening. No price point has been announced but it can be assumed that each item in the line will cost more than 90 percent of the country’s population can afford to spend on clothes.

In a statement on the launch, Holli Rogers, fashion director for luxury retailer Net-A-Porter, said, “Fashion plays an important role in The Hunger Games series and is especially prevalent in Catching Fire, and fans of the franchise will see the film reference in the collection.”

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(Cover Girl)

What the statement doesn’t say is that fans of the books also see that the people of the Capitol are uniformly (with one or two exceptions) described as foolish, shallow and sheep-like; barely human creatures who undergo full body dyes and surgical removal for the sake of seasonal trends. Capitol citizens barely open their mouths while speaking with high-pitched voices that always sound as though asking a question. While citizens in every other district subsist on stale rations, Capitol citizens gorge themselves on rich foods until they are stuffed fat like Thanksgiving turkeys before tossing back a special liquid which induces vomit so they can eat more. And they cheer as teenagers from the poorer districts are forced to slaughter each other for their amusement and as punishment for those districts daring to attempt to break from the Capitol’s repressive control. It’s little wonder that Katniss, the narrator of the trilogy, hates the Capitol, its citizens, and every luxury they are granted at the expense of thousand of starving others (with the exception of lamb stew with dried plums).

The irony, of course, is that even people hired to design and market for the Hunger Games film adaptations don’t understand a basic message of the story (they obviously haven’t read the books, either). Capitol citizens are not admirable. They are vacuous featherbrains easily duped by bright colors, melodrama and spectacle. Author Suzanne Collins stretched modern American trends, particularly reality television and opulent lifestyles, to satirical extremes. These are not people the audience is meant to emulate. These are caricatures the audience is meant to be repulsed by. Unfortunately, as always, once a piece of art reaches mainstream success, much of its meaning is stripped away.

Maybe Collins’ intent will become clear by the end of movie series. Or maybe we’ll be seeing commercials for vomit-inducing bottled water, at-home spray-on body paint kits, genetically engineered pink poodles and designer Mockingjay wing dresses with matching diamond-studded pins. Because, you know, they’re so very inspired by Katniss Everdeen.

As Che Guevara would say, there’s no better way to rebel than through your clothes. [subscribe2]

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About Jess Kroll

Jess Kroll
Jess Kroll has spent years traveling the world, writing books, performing poetry, teaching, playing D&D, and occasionally discussing movies for Pop Mythology. His novels include 'Land of Smiles' from Monsoon Books and young adult series 'The One' and 'Werewolf Council' from Epic Press. He can put his foot behind his head.