'Hunger Games': Trends from a girl on fire

Katniss "resonates among females of all ages," says Katniss "resonates among females of all ages," says one retailer, which means merchandising can't be far behind. Here, a replica of her arena jacket; $149.99 at amazon.com. Photo Credit: Handout

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"Hunger Games" fans are starved for all things related to author Suzanne Collins' best-selling trilogy-gone-blockbuster movie -- and fashion may be at the top of the list.

The story about a post-apocalyptic world where a modern Joan of Arc faces death in a reality-style arena game doesn't exactly seem like the breeding grounds for shoppers' lust. But strangely enough, it is. At the heart of the matter is 16-year-old heroine Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, an archer who is part tomboy, part glamour girl, and all bravery. Bottom line: females are fascinated by the character.

"It doesn't surprise me," says the movie's costume designer, Judianna Makovsky. "Everybody relates to Katniss. We wanted her to be accessible, and not so outrageous that is was unattainable. You can empathize with this girl."

For the character's day-to-day looks in District 12, where coal mining was king, Makovsky says she researched classic American coal mining communities. "It's all about classic American work wear," she says. Her nod to modernity was the use of Vans footwear, "the only deal we had with anybody in the whole movie."

Inspiration for the wild and dazzling Capitol costumes came from Elsa Schiaparelli, a designer in the '30s and '40s, says Makovsky. "We were going for elegance with a hint of scariness," she says of the rather wacky get-ups worn by other characters. But for Katniss, "some of the clothes in the book were too over the top." The important "girl on fire" dress that she wears for a pre-games TV interview was toned down, says Makovsky. "It could have gone into a 'Dancing with the Stars,' Bob Mackie number. But I wanted Katniss' beauty to shine through her face." She created a rather spare silk and taffeta organza gown, dappled with Swarovski crystals in a flame pattern. The dress does ignite -- but the flames are computer-generated.

The genuine heat appears to be in stores. "It's insanity," says Jonathan Shapiro, who owns Mixology, a chain of stores on Long Island and in Westport, Conn. "It's 100 percent mania. All the 'Hunger Games' stuff was sold out weeks before the movie opened. I've had to reorder."

What's the appeal? "She's a terrific heroine who plays into the psyche of a young girl," says Shapiro. "She's in charge, she calls the shots and it resonates among females of all ages."

There's merchandise all over - from Katniss knee socks, slickers and backpacks at Amazon to nail polish to jewelry. In fact if there is one iconic symbol from the movie destined for big sales, it is the mockingjay bird, an illustration of which adorns the first book in the series. Katniss wears a mockingjay pin to the games, (a replica is sold by Newbury Comics) and the bird becomes a symbol of rebellion.

San Diego-based jeweler Annie Nygard, of Spiffard Jewelry, is an "obsessed" fan who created a number of pieces of jewelry that depict events from the film, all of which was done while she listened to the trilogy on audio books. Says the designer, "We only make jewelry based on things we love and are passionate about."

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