The Girl on Fire is back — in style.
Katniss Everdeen returns to the screen in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” and after emerging from the trilogy’s first film victorious, she’s decked out in dark, glamorous garb.
The winner of a brutal death match against other youths chosen by lottery, she’s now rich, her family is safe, and she’s moved up a few notches in society.
And to the victor go the spoils.
Gone are the tattered clothes Jennifer Lawrence wore to hunt for food the first time around. We find Katniss and fellow winner Peeta — her sort-of beau (Josh Hutcherson)
— in Victor’s Village wearing clothes with a more luxe feel, made from better fabrics, like leather. Needless to say, they’re imports from the wealthy Capitol.
“Now that they’ve won the Games, their clothes are filtered to them through the Capitol — as is their food, their money,” says Trish Summerville, costume designer for “Catching Fire,” out Thursday.
The characters are still getting outfitted by their stylist, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) — and in some ways they retain their original sense of fashion.
“He tries to keep them very much of the people, and in the essence of how they are normally — except it’s newer clothes now.”
For everyday wear, Katniss sports pants, sleeveless tops, textured knits and layers. Peeta looks crisper than ever; even his work boots are fashionable.
From left, Jennifer Lawrence, Elizabeth Banks and Josh Hutcherson
When the two set out on a media tour across the lands, their real makeover begins.
“The closer they get to the Capitol, the more fashionable their clothes become,” says Summerville.
Also on the so-called Victory Tour — and looking outlandish — is Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), who makes sure their appearances stay on-message in front of the increasingly restless crowds.
Dressed to the nines and beyond in hourglass-shaped outfits —some of them by Alexander McQueen — Trinket realizes that despite her high position in the Capitol, no one is safe. And her costumes show that discomfort.
“She always appears light and jovial and all that the Capitol embodies, but I wanted her to be uncomfortable and tortured — it’s kind of her penance to herself,” Summerville says.
Her waists are too tight, her dresses so wide she struggles to walk, let alone sit, and her shoes have no heels, so she tiptoes, Summerville says.
“Esthetically, she looks fantastic, like a confection or a bonbon,” says the designer. “But inside, she has the torment of being the person who has to go out and reap these children,” ushering them to death.
Along the way there are signs of rebellion, as well as ominous-looking Peacekeepers in helmets that block out their eyes for an extra-creepy effect.
“They’re just evil,” says Summerville, who modeled the brutal soldiers after skeletons and insects. “They needed to have a level of not being human.”
Katniss’ fashion evolution is complete when she appears at a gala at the Capitol in a sharp-angled black-and red gown with abstract flame details on the bottom and what look like feathers on the top — a nod to her personal good luck symbol.
Peacekeepers, whose uniforms were inspired by skeletons and insects, flank (from left) Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence in the “Hunger Games” sequel.
“It marries the ‘Girl on Fire’ and the mockingjay,” Summerville says.
Then things get ugly. Nefarious President Snow changes the rules and says there will be another round of Hunger Games — but this time the contestants will be the winners from past seasons.
That’s bad news for Katniss and Peeta, who proposes before the fighting begins.
“Hunger Games” fans know it’s a faux proposal, a bid for sympathy from the people who follow the deadly proceedings like reality TV.
But it gives Katniss reason to wear one unbelievable wedding dress.
“It does have to be something that is Capitol-worthy,” says Summerville of the dress, which is white with silver details and was designed by Tex Saverio. “It has to be over the top. It has to be couture.”
And it has to be built for action.
“On the practical side, it needed to perform,” Summerville says. “It should be full and grand, but I needed it to be light enough to lift and catch air when she spins.”
As Katniss spins, the dress catches fire — as expected — and morphs into a slinky mockingjay gown complete with wings.
It’s a subversive political statement, at least according to President Snow. He’s outraged that the downtrodden see Katniss as “one of them” and invoke the mockingjay symbol in protests.
Then it’s off to the Games, where all bets (and couture clothes) are off. But nobody is counting Katniss out.
“Katniss is, for me, quite the phoenix,” says Summerville. “She continues to rise above. I wanted to show that in the clothing.”