The final installment of The Hunger Games Franchise franchise comes to theaters later this year, and with it comes a brand new look for reluctant figurehead Katniss Everdeen.
In this latest teaser for [The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2](tag:449866), we are treated to our first look at Katniss in her new costume, a deep red suit contrasting perfectly with the ranks of crisply white soldiers. The symbolism here is unmistakable, unsurprising for a propaganda clip for the revolution. Katniss stands, blood red on snow white; or should that be "Snow" white? This is a color for war, with a (semi) practical battle choice of thick armor over the chest. The costume is an unmistakable declaration of aggression, in perfect harmony with the open warfare we are about to see sweeping Panem. It's perfect.
Of course, this isn't the first time that we've seen Katniss in a costume that is as symbolic as it is beautiful. Throughout the books, Katniss' clothes reflect her situation, and not just when she is wearing one of Cinna's glorious creations.
The First Outfit
The first time we meet Katniss, her clothing defines the personality that is the bedrock of her character. Practical, straightforward, and unassuming, she wants only to get what she needs for her family. It's that family that inspires her, and her costume reflects that in the details. From the braid that her mother pulls her hair into, to her father's jacket, this woodsy ensemble embodies the girl we grow to love.
One of the first distinctive outfits we see Katniss in is her blue dress for that first, fateful reaping. It's one of the simplest creations in the whole franchise, subtle, feminine and gentle. From a practical standpoint, it's a plain and faded summer dress, probably very old and worn only once a year.
The connection to Katniss' innocence is clear from the start. It's pale and girlish, and while Katniss is clearly as uncomfortable in the outfit as she is pretending to be delicate and childish, she does still have some of her innocence at this point. From the moment she volunteers, we see this ripped away - her outfits become practical or glamorous, and her innocence is sacrificed to the games.
Even at the end of the first movie, when Cinna intentionally gives her a "simpler" dress to appease viewers and make her appear more delicate, it's a gorgeous ball gown, the Capitol's idea of innocence, rather than the real thing.
From the time she leaves District 12, Katniss has markedly more dramatic outfits (for obvious reasons). She's in the public eye on a daily basis, and the games are created as entertainment, requiring all the pageantry that goes with that. However, these outfits are not just about catching the eye, but represent both the conflict between Snow, the rebels and Katniss herself. They are also stronger, bolder - just as Katniss is becoming.
Although glad that Cinna seems to choose a less ostentatious and more subtle approach for her clothes, Katniss is still deeply uncomfortable in her gowns, as she is in her role as a tribute and as a figurehead. It's especially interesting that Cinna makes the decision to keep the transformation of her gowns a secret from her - just as she is kept in the dark about the plans for the revolution itself. These sparkling and fiery dresses balance between a desire to appease and to inflame, the same internal battle that Katniss is waging with herself as she realizes that she has done so much more than just survive the arena.
Them's Fighting Clothes
When it comes to outfits for the arena itself, all complexity and flash is replaced with practicality; her outfits for the arena are in subdued tones, designed for camouflage, running and fighting. Again, this practical choice covers a deeper message.
In these clothes, Katniss comes closest to what she wore by choice in her home district: her hunting clothes. The braided hair, the brown and green tones, everything down to that iconic pin itself are a version of her own style (if the necessity for practical clothes can be called style, that is). In the arena, even when fighting for her life, Katniss feels the least conflicted, the most like herself. Here, she's not being overtly manipulated, she is simply doing what she has always done, survive.
One of the simplest looks in the franchise is the District 13 jumpsuit. Plain and baggy, the jumpsuit is hers at a time when she can't decide who she is. The arena has robbed her of who she once was, and she doesn't want to play the role District 13 is asking her to. At this point, she would rather be no one, and by blending into the district, she's symbolically neutral - deciding which part she will play in the coming war.
The New Look
Which brings us to her latest, most powerful costume yet, the Mockingjay suits. A mix of the Capitol style, the District 13 militia and her own heritage, they are closest to representing who she has become. For one thing, they are much more heavy-duty, made to protect Katniss in a war of hundreds, rather than twenty four. These are built to withstand true battle, and it shows how far her situation has escalated.
These are also far more dramatic and intentionally styled than her earlier hunting clothing and even her first arena outfit: despite being part of District 13, she's still being manipulated for public consumption, just as she originally was in the Capitol. This reinforces her place as more of a tool of the revolution than an inciter in her own right - something that we are seeing a lot of in these final films. However, her role as the face of the uprising is something that she is becoming more comfortable with, and the new outfits reflect her amalgamation of her old self with her new role. She has actively decided to become the Mockingjay, and this newer, stronger outfit reflects that.
What else will we see in Mockingjay Part 2? As Katniss is no longer a puppet for the Capitol, we'll probably see less of a range in her clothes. She has finally embraced a single role, that of the Mockingjay, and we'll see more consistency on the outside to match her inner confidence. No more stunning gowns or flaming jackets, simply the armored black, and the blood red suits: one for fighting, and one for rousing others to fight.