From the moment Katniss describes Cinna’s appearance, it’s obvious that he is a man of subtle skill. Unlike others in Capitol, he hasn’t dyed his hair some crazy color, undergone surgeries to change his appearance or any other odd fashion quirk. He dresses in simple black clothes with gold eyeliner around his dark eyes. From there he continues to surprise Katniss by admitting that he wanted District 12, the least desirable of Panem, and that Katniss must see the beings of Capitol as “despicable.” (p. 64) He doesn’t deny that he is one of them, and yet it’s clear that he knows how wrong Capitol is.
Cinna and Portia, Peeta’s stylist, develop costumes for the parade that allow flames to burn around Katniss and Peeta without causing injury. The purpose of the costumes is to force everyone to see and remember District 12. The fire theme carries onto the night of the interview in Cinna’s next creation. The prep team transforms Katniss’s hair, skin and nails into complimentary accessories to Cinna’s masterpiece. By using colored gems, the dress appears as if it is on fire. She spins and the flames engulf her, yet she remains unharmed.
Fire commonly accompanies the notion of power. Flames destroy, often uncontrollably. Cinna’s works of art fueled the idea that Katniss can win the Games and will not back down. Her score reflects her skills, but visuals often intimidate more than numbers. Seeing a woman under the illusion that she cannot be harmed by flames plants a seed of doubt in the mind.
Cinna’s costumes would not have worked had Katniss not been who she was. Had she simply given up, not acted as she did during the parade or interview and acted sullen, it wouldn’t have worked nearly as well. Throwing a doctor’s coat on a man doesn’t mean he can perform surgery. Cinna’s designs inspired and enhanced Katniss.
Given how important image is to Capitol and its people, the role of the stylist is completely necessary. Molding a person that no one knows into some type of image the crowd will adore is a challenge. The tributes need the crowds to want them to win. Those sponsor gifts can place a tribute in the winner’s circle.
Contains spoilers for the end The Hungers Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay.
The fire theme continued to the end of the book, in Katniss’s Victor’s dress. It’s yellow, made to look innocent. The idea is that it glows like a candle. The innocence is vital after what occurs at the end of the Games. He once again must use clothing to prove a point.
Cinna’s work continues in Catching Fire, first through her “talent” and Victory Tour dresses and later on at the Quarter Quell. Rather than set Katniss on fire again for the parade, he creates an outfit that is designed to look like burning coals. I took it as a display of growing resentment towards the Games. President Snow didn’t allow Cinna to make something for the interview. Instead, Katniss was to wear the wedding dress Capitol had selected for her. Cinna made his mark, though, causing the dress to transform Katniss into a mockingjay when she twirled.
Fortunately, Cinna’s work appeared in Mockingjay in the armor Katniss wore when she fought. It also resembles a mockingjay.
As with any book to movie conversion, I find myself concerned about some points. One of these is Cinna’s costumes, namely the interview dress. We’ve seen pictures of it. It’s red with a pleat-like bottom that may give the appearance of flames. I hope. It’s such a spectacular dress in the book.
Cinna fights back without weapons or words. It’s artful and cunning. I can’t wait to see his work brought to life.