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January 24, 2024

Clara Baisinger-Rosen

I, like many others my age who have a voracious appetite for reading and have had such since childhood, went through a The Hunger Games obsession in my tween-age years. I read every book upwards of four times. I watched every Youtube analysis video and filled out every “What Hunger Games _____ are you/do you belong in/should you eat” Buzzfeed Quiz that was available to me. And, of course, I watched the movies. The first two the most, of course, but the others too. The series by Suzzane Collins was an absolute mainstay in my life in all forms, but the movies stuck in my head with the most longevity. From the years of 2016 to a few months ago, however, I didn’t think about them much. I started reading books more geared towards an older population and left the YA craze, in all of its glory, behind. 

And then. 

All of a sudden. 

The perfect storm arrived. 

On November 17, 2023, an otherwise unremarkable day, movie theaters released A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the prequel to the Hunger Games series following President Snow, the series’ ruthless villain. The book that this movie was based on came out in 2020, but it was the movie that really spurred the YA craze for both myself and millions of people worldwide. And for me in particular, a fashion obsessed individual, this blast from the past reminded me of something even more notable from the original time period during which this series came out: the fashion. The early 2010s.

So welcome to a 2010s retrospective. The fashion, the energy, and how it all comes back to us living here, in a not-so-different 2023. 


The Trends

The first couple Hunger Games movies came out during a notable time for fashion. In a post-recession world, there grew a noticeable divide between high fashion/haute-couture and a more accessible “street style” which grew in popularity among the general, media-consuming masses. Unlike the bling-flashing pink-wearing styles of the Y2K era (which, noticeable, has been losing its prevalence after a brief re-uptick in the early 2020s), the 2010s were about shapes and color. Neons and funky prints took precedence over denim and rhinestones. 

In an article from Glamour, a few notable trends of 2012 (the year the first Hunger Games movie came out) are laid out. Glittery pumps, leather, peplum, neon, funky shapes, and statement collar pieces, to name a few were all the rage that year. These influences can be seen in the inaugural Hunger Games film. Effie Trinket, the protagonists’ garishly dressed guide to the Capitol and the games themselves, wears a bright purple peplum look with a bright white collar absolutely covered in flower petals. 


Capitol citizens are similarly dressed, sporting the 80s-esque, voluminous styles of the time period. Even so, a sense of minimalism in terms of pieces remains. Unlike Y2K, which sported a “the-more-pieces-the-better” approach, The Hunger Games  demonstrates the nature of the 2010s to let individual pieces speak for themselves. It’s not about the quantity- it’s about the garment in and of itself. 


Catching Fire, being released in 2013, follows a similar thesis in the costuming of its Capitol citizens. Voluminous feathers, another trend of the time, can be seen in everything from party dresses to headpieces. Metallic tones like gold and silver which were in vogue as well show up in everything from wigs to Mockingjay pins. 

It’s no surprise that The Hunger Games reflected the fashion of the time that it was made. Almost every work of cinema or television can claim the same feat. Costuming reflects the values of both the work and the surrounding context. What can be found interesting about the trends of this particular franchise lies in their recurrence today. What’s been repeated in ABOSAS, what’s been neglected, and what does that tell us about the state of trends today? 


The Comparison 

A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place 64 years before the events of The Hunger Games, and in the context of the rapidly developing postwar world that Suzanne Collins creates (and real life) that’s a lot of time for fashion preferences to change. 

One notable shift in ABOSAS is the silhouettes—among both Capitol citizens and people from the districts, lines are sharp and straight instead of winding and complex. One can only compare the swirling fur of Katniss’s fur coat in Catching Fire to the clean, stitched corset-work of Lucy Gray’s dress in ABOSAS to witness this change. 


Lucy Gray’s garment evokes a structure and confinement to clothing that reflects a more 2023 view of femininity, reminding the viewer of Urban Outfitters corsets and the puffed sleeves of 2022. Even Lucy’s makeup is different, despite her seemingly limited resources as an individual living in relative poverty. Statement lips and sharply drawn cheekbones rival the makeup Katniss wears in the capital (characterized by bronzed eyeshadow and more muted lips). 

The clothing of Coriolanus Snow also reflects 2023 sensibilities, down to the color. The color of 2012, according to Pantone, was “tangerine tango,” an orangey-red tone echoed in the more orange-hued nature of many of the warm toned garments in the original movies. Meanwhile, the color of 2023 is Viva Magenta, which turns to the opposite end of the spectrum in adding elements of cool tones to more naturally warm colors. One can just look at the more muted reds of capital clothing by the end of ABOSAS to see these trends materialize, particularly in Snow’s final, plum-red suit and coat. 



However, some similarities exist. After all, sources such as InStyle argue that in fact, 2010s styles are making a comeback. It makes sense, after all- the Y2K trend is fading, leaving 2010s as the next possible moment for the fashion minded populace. InStyle remarks that some trends which may be on their way to returning include statement necklaces, skinny jeans, and statement pieces such as flower crowns and elaborate necklaces. Can these trends be found in ABOSAS? I would argue no- it simply does not make sense in the context of the film. However, there are hints that emerge, one, notably, being the robe worn by Tigris (Hunter Schaefer). This dressing gown is a remarkable shade of nothing other than millennial pink, a style quite popular amongst the millennial generation in the early 2010s. The material as well, velvet, was quite popular in the 70s and 80s, therefore influencing the 80s inspired style of the early 2010s, and in turn, now. 


The suit of Viola Davis’ character Dr. Gaul also carries remnants of a 2010 influence. A warm toned red-orange that fades to white is quite reminiscent of the 2010s early-stage screen printing fad. 




All in all, the transition of fashion over the last ten years has been remarkable, and The Hunger Games saga only exemplifies this change. But fashion is cyclical. With the return of cultural phenomena that we may have thought were left in the past comes the revival of trends as well. We may have called them “cheugy” just a year ago, but be warned- ABOSAS is only the beginning of this early 2010s (once more) rise to power. Point being: prepare your flower crowns. 

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