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Hunger Games: Catching Fire Burns White-Hot with Katniss and Her Wedding Gown

5 Sep

   costumesOriginally published for my “Fashion in Film Beat” at Yahoo! Movies

Staci Layne Wilson

The sequel to “The Hunger Games” – which grossed nearly $700 million worldwide – promises to be on every best-dressed list in Tinsel Town!

In the hotly anticipated fantasy action thriller, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” begins as Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) returns home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games. Along with fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), she must prepare the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) – a competition that could change their land of Panem forever.

Along with a whole new set of cinematic challenges and a new director (Francis Lawrence, best-known for Constantine and I Am Legend), “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” features a whole different look from costume designer Trish Summerville, who’s worked with the likes of Christina Aguilera and whose film credits include “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

When I caught up with both Lawrences – Francis and Jennifer – at a recent red carpet event, I just had to ask about Katniss’ wedding gown… which is breathtaking, to say the least.

Staci Wilson: Are there even more outrageous fantasy costumes in the new movie?

Francis Lawrence: Yeah, there’s a lot. We brought on a fantastic costume designer, Trish Summerville, who I’d worked with before in music videos. She came from a fashion and styling background so we brought her on and she did loads and loads of great stuff. I mean, there’s some really amazing dresses that Effie wears, and Trish even got some Alexander McQueen museum pieces for Katniss to wear in the chariots, and for the interviews, [not to mention] the wedding dress and the Mocking Jay dress. So, to answer your question: there’s loads of fun costumes in this!

Q: How much input do you have in something like that, with the costumes?

Francis Lawrence: A lot. But it all sort of starts with me wanting to bring Trish on, so you know, I know the kind of level of taste and sophistication that she brings, and so that’s making a big decision right there. And then in the early conversations with her, talking about certain kinds of things that we both like that we thought that we could use. Someone as talented as she is, I kind of let her run with it and then just make little changes, specifically if it has to do with story.

Q: Or practicality.

Francis Lawrence: Yeah. Well, sometimes practicality. That gets tricky. The wedding dress was pretty impractical. Jen was falling a lot in it.

Jennifer Lawrence: Yeah, the wedding dress was incredible, it’s stunning and unbelievable, I’m not good with big dresses, and stairs. I didn’t know that until afterwards, I wish I would have known! [laughs]


I recently discovered that NET-A-PORTER, one of the biggest luxury fashion and beauty retailers on the Web, is featuring an exclusive capsule collection inspired by the movie. Created by costume designer Trish Summerville herself, “Capitol Couture” features laser-cut leather, streamlined silhouettes and dramatic eveningwear.

The luxury clothing line “Capitol Couture by Trish Summerville” consists of 16 ready-to-wear garments, as well as jewelry and leather goods inspired by “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”. The collection will be available exclusively on NET-A-PORTER this fall to coincide with the film’s francis_trishworldwide release on November 22, 2013.


David Bowie Is [on display]

22 Apr

Fashion in Film Beat: Yahoo! Movies

by Staci Layne Wilson

= = =

David Bowie is, therefore we think.

Bowie bolt

“David Bowie Is” is the name of the exhibit on display now at the V&A Museum in London (the show ends on August 11). It’s brilliantly titled, as it leads to almost as many roads as the entertainer himself took on his long and continuing journey through fame.

As you walk into a virtual labyrinth (yes, film fans – Bowie’s star turn in the Jim Henson film Labyrinth is featured within the presentation), the first thing you will see is the writing on the wall “All art is unstable” and hear Bowie’s voice intoning, “There is no authoritative voice. There are only multiple readings.” Paraphrasing fellow troubadour Bob Dylan’s go-to muse, Arthur Rimbaud (and let’s not forget Bowie’s own A Song for Bob Dylan, off the Hunky Dory album), the ultimate glam rock entertainer leads you by the brain into his silvery lair.

Bowie  – a poet and a pin-up, a sell-out and a maverick, a lover and a loner, an actor reading from a script and an off-the-cuff philosopher – is pretty much impossible to define. And so is this exhibit. A mish-mash of glitter and substantive information, it’s up to the beholder to find the beautiful. Co-curated by Geoff Marsh, the items on display seem, at first, to possess a cohesive narrative (early career, glam era, influences, movie work), but then, like Gretel running out of breadcrumbs, I found myself lost in this forest of finery. Overwhelmed and all done, I could barely remember all that I’d seen.

Original Ziggy Stardust bodysuits are on display, as are Kansai Yamamoto’s Aladdin Sane tour outfits, an amazing Union Jack coat designed by Alexander McQueen and Bowie himself for the cover of the Earthling album, as well as a deeply striking, very irreverent religious-icon mask worn in the Dead Man Walking music video directed by Flora Sigismondi.

dead man walking mask


As a bit of a museum rat, I’ve seen some pretty awesome collections – from the unprecedented Stanley Kubrick exhibit by Elvis Mitchell currently at LACMA, to last year’s Hollywood Museum Marilyn Monroe retrospective in the famous Art Deco Max Factor Building in Hollywood. While I did love every spangle and glistening thread of “David Bowie Is”, I was unable to grasp a through-line. Perhaps that’s the blessing of, first of all, trying to make sense of such a mysterious icon, but also the curse of presenting a definitive picture of a living legend.

As you enter the first room, look up at the aerial library. It’s a disparate mock-up of suspended books that open like flowers to show a gilded glimpse of the intellectual influences inside the man who was so much about the façade. Then take a gander at the glamour Bowie beheld, regurgitated, and repackaged in his own image – the famous Marlene Dietrich photographic portrait and Bowie’s mirror of that same angular face on his Hunky Dory album cover is the most striking illustration. However, sprinkled throughout the rooms are many more eye-opening examples.


Eerie, androgynous mannequins lurk in corners and stand on open display, wearing Bowie’s most famous costumes. Room décor ranges from the Soho flavor on his U.K. beginnings to his current bedroom in Manhattan. Then we go from the deepest, darkest outer spaces bringing to mind Major Tom and The Man Who Fell to Earth, to bright and airy floor-to-ceiling video monitors showing Bowie strutting his stuff onstage throughout the eras. His Broadway dressing rooms are recreated to remind us of his powerful performance in Bernard Pomerance’s play about the “Elephant Man” John Merrick in which Bowie self-transformed without the aid of prostheses or makeup.

David Bowie exibition at the V&A

Film fans will flock to the rooms which feature Bowie’s considerable acting accomplishments, including the aforementioned sci-fi noir film directed by Nicholas Roeg, 1976’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, to his work some 30 years later as Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan’s magic mystery, The Prestige. Fantasy fanatics will thrill over the Labyrinth props, including The Goblin King’s sepulcher and crystal ball, and will enjoy reading the hand-written letter from Henson to Bowie asking him to read the enclosed “rough” script and please consider the role. Also on display is the white Andy Warhol fright wig Bowie donned in Julian Schnabel’s Basquiat bio-pic. (Aside: just prior to seeing “David Bowie Is”, I attended my first Jean-Michel Basquiat show in New York City. Those pieces are now in London at Sotheby’s, awaiting auction)


Like shed skins, each look and incarnation is left behind as the beholder moves from room to room. In the homestretch, we see a faux Ziggy Stardust laid to rest supine on the floor in a glass coffin; handwritten and crossed out lyrics; marked-up outtakes from the Diamond Dogs photography sessions snapped with Terry O’Neil’s camera; and much, much more.

Terry O'Neil Diamond Dogs Photo

Finally, a last look: The iconic photo of Bowie from 1972 by Japanese photographer, Masayoshi Sukita “Exit” and you do just that (through the gift-shop, natch).

Masayoshi Sukita Photo 1972

David Bowie Is book, last page

Bouncy Blonde Brigitte & Her Bodacious Black Boots

22 Sep

I haven’t seen many of Brigitte Bardot’s films, relatively speaking, nor would I consider myself a “fan” — yet, there is something about her that lures me in every once in awhile and I’ll go on a BB  kick (so to speak — she could rock thigh-high boots like nobody’s biz).


Interest has been reignited by seeing her portrayed by Laetitia Casta in the beautiful biopic, Gainsbourg: A Historic Life, but I am trying to remember when I first became truly aware of her. I suppose I always knew who she was on some level, my own mom being something of a sex symbol and pinup… so, I grew up with an almost inborn appreciation of feminine beauty — but my first strong recollection is from reading Roger Vadim’s autobiography, BARDOT-DENEUVE-FONDA in 1986. It is an extremely personal, revealing book, certainly one of the best filmmaker memoirs I’ve read. I’ve gone back to it a couple of times, since.


I saw some of her movies in the 80s. I recall checking out her breakout film, one directed by Vadim, called And God Created Woman (1956). A few years back, I watched all of the movies (Come Dance With Me!, Les Femmes, Love on a Pillow, Naughty Girl, À Coeur Joie) on a boxed set I got for review. I remember not being overly impressed with the dated films, but I liked her. She’s a woman with playful, girlish qualities, but it’s easy to see at a glance that she’s nobody’s fool.


Favorite Bardot performances of mine are definitely from the Edgar Allan Poe anthology, Spirits of the Dead (1968), in which she’s a brunet bad-girl named Giuseppina (in the segment William Wilson, with Alain Delon and directed by Louis Malle), and Contempt (1963), directed by Jean-Luc Godard. I only just saw the latter for the first time in 2010, some 37 years after its golden star retired from the silver screen.

This image from it has ever captured my imagination, but the entire film is even better. It’s a must-see for anyone who loves movies about movies.

She’s only wearing a sheet in that image, and is only clad in little of the same in the Gainsbourg pic, however, she was known for a certain “look” and seeing it once again gave me the impetus to break out the black thigh-highs and my vintage style leopard-print coat from storage.

I’ve never been much for boots myself. Being petite as I am, heels, especially the kind that don’t create a break at the ankle, look best on me. But that doesn’t mean I can create an illusion through photography — hence, my boot-kick. Here are some cool kicks I really love…


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Gainsbourg’s Girls, Garb ‘n La Gueule

16 Sep


Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life Movie Poster 

PLOT SYNOPSIS FROM FILMMAKER MAGAZINE: Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life is a live-action fantasy based on the life of über-French chansonnier and peerless provocateur Serge Gainsbourg (embodied by look-alike stage actor Eric Elmosnino), whose Russian-Jewish background and almost mythic love affairs with Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin (whose orgasmic moans made famous their 1969 duet “Je T’Aime… Moi Non Plus”) he explores with eccentric charm, employing a kind of dream logic to connect different episodes from the singer’s life.

Sfar’s biggest conceit in Gainsbourg, which was released to great acclaim last year in France (it won a César for best debut feature), centers on an incident that occurs early in the film: walking through Occupied Paris, a school-age Lucien Ginsburg (who later adopted his stage name) is alarmed to see a horrifically anti-Semitic caricature and, in the shock of self-realization, sees it spring to life, a monster that morphs into eerie alter ego (played by Doug Jones of Pan’s Labyrinth), his shadow id and (occasionally misguided) conscience.

Sfar’s depiction of the iconic composer captures many facets of Gainsbourg’s persona, including the self-abuse that he seemed to parade as proudly as his smuttiest compositions, but it’s the elements of comic-book-inflected fantasy (the director enthuses equally about F.W. Murnau and Peter Jackson by way of explaining his visual technique) that differentiate the film from standard-issue music biopics.


PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE FROM ME: I first learned of this most unusual biopic a couple of years back from Doug Jones, who acts in the film as “La Gueule” — a fanciful manifestation of Serge Gainsbourg’s impish Id — and I really wanted to see it. Not because I was especially interested in the life of the infamous French songwriter and soused celebrity but mainly due to the way Dougie described it as a fantasy moving picture adaptation of a graphic novel as directed by the artist. (check out my most recent interview with Doug, along with my cohort/co-host Matt Raub, for “This Week In Horror” right here)

I am generally very receptive to biopics (and am an avid reader of biographies and autobiographies), especially the ones that color outside the lines (prime examples are my favorite biopic of all time: Todd Haynes’ Bob Dylan parable I’m Not There, as well as Kevin Spacey’s take on Bobby Darrin and George Clooney’s adaptation of the bizarre Chuck Barris tell-all, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind).

It seemed like forever and day before G:AHL finally made it from France and Europe to we Stateside cinefiles. I had to miss the preview press screening of G:AHL on August 24 (only because I was working on directing a short film… such a flimsy excuse, I know!). I was disappointed to miss it as a journalist, but vowed to see it as a fan regardless. So, last night at The Landmark in L.A., I finally fulfilled my wish. G:AHL is now playing in select theaters, in a limited engagement (yada, yada — basically, see it on the big screen now, before it’s gone!).

My dear Dougie is really great in the film as the tyrannical muse of the troubled troubadour. There is something about Doug himself in real life that’s very muse-like. As Guillermo del Toro can certainly attest to, since the autuer’s chosen to work with Doug as often as possible since first meeting him when he was directing his first big American debut, Mimic. (By the by, the director’s cut of Mimic is out on Blu-ray, and I reviewed it for Doug has a way of bringing nightmares, dreams and figments to life. This is him below, augmented as the Serge Id.

Doug was even my muse for a day. This was last year when I undertook a massive project in which, diligently over two months, I photographed a variety of people separately but in the same location (the Korean Friendship Bell in San Pedro, CA).

It was fascinating for me to discover how each one’s personality and vibe transformed the static stone and steel structure into something different every time. The morning Doug arrived was unexpectedly rainy and quite blustery, creating climate calamities I wasn’t too thrilled about in the moment, but which stimulated some of the most arresting images in the series (water-spots on the lens, and all).

Doug is his own amazing muse, on occasion — check out the incredibly compelling self-portrait he contributed for my now-defunct “Blog I’d Like to Fuck [BILF]” on said subject, a few years back (you’ll have to scroll down, after downloading the PDF – totally worth it, promise!)

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I’m With Coco (Chanel)

19 Aug

Avoiding the formulaic trap that made last year’s Coco Avant Chanel biopic seem like a made-for-Lifetime movie, Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (coming to DVD next month) is a mature, thought-provoking and often unsettling, unflinching look at the torrid yet ice-cold affair between the rich patron of the arts and the struggling (and very married) musician (it’s the “wrong of spring,” if you will). Director Jan Kounen’s complex, considered style brings to mind the ’70s-era work of Bertolucci or Bergman; little is explained, but all is shown. I loved it, and am looking forward to seeing the behind the scenes featurette (unfortunately, looks like there isn’t a director commentary).

The Coco Collective

Surprisingly, Coco Chanel hasn’t been the subject of all that many biopics — what few there are have been are recent, making it seem like a proliferation. We had a terrible, trying, awful, boring and soapy (do you get that I didn’t like it?) miniseries starring Shirley MacLaine a few years back. Then there was the somewhat better, but still strictly tv-entertainment level version starring the usually wonderful Audrey Tatou as the pioneering fashionista. And finally, the very good (but still not definitive) film starring Anna Mouglalis as a chilly and commanding Coco.

Anna Mouglalis

Fun Facts:

Did you know that Coco Chanel was the only person in the field of fashion to be named in the Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century?

Katherine Hepburn played Coco Chanel in a Broadway musical in 1969.

Timothy Dalton and Rutger Hauer are in the 1981 film version, Chanel Solitaire, directed by George Kaczender and starring Marie-France Pisier.

Marilyn Monroe’s favorite perfume was Chanel No 5.

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