Costume Designer Trish Summerville Earns Third CDG Award Nom
By: Marjorie Galas
Costume designer Trish Summerville enjoys collaborating with smart, creative people. On such person is director David Fincher, who she reteamed with for this year’s critically acclaimed “Gone Girl.” She enjoys working with Fincher so much; she can barely contain herself when the director walks on set.
“It makes me so happy when I see him, I just want to body slam him,” joked Summerville.
They make a winning team. Her first CDG Award nomination and win came in 2012 for contemporary costume designs in Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Her contemporary costume designs in “Gone Girl” have resulted in her third CDG Award nomination (Summerville won 2014’s sci-fi/fantasy award for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”)
Summerville has worked with Fincher on commercials including Nike, Apple and The Gap. While Fincher maps out clear directions for department heads on any project, he trusts the creative vision of frequent collaborators. Although Fincher had a distinct vision for “Gone Girl” lead Amy Dunne (Oscar nominated Rosamund Pike) Fincher relied on Summerville’s research and design knowledge to flesh out the character’s arcs throughout the film.
“He’s very smart; he has it all played out in his head from the beginning. He’s extremely well prepared and it helps us,” said Summerville. “He knows what he wants, but he also gives a lot of creative freedom.”
Amy Dunne is chameleon, constantly reinventing herself to accommodate the perspective of the people she manipulates. Summerville had to subtly redefine the character’s style to reflect these reinventions including the classic style she wears when she first meets Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), her married lifestyle in Missouri, her trailer park existence, and her reconnection to Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris). Complicating these transformations was the need for slight period pieces.
“Doing slight period is tricky. It’s a very subtle change, going from the 90s to the around 2005,” said Summerville.
The period shift occurs primarily in the background characters. Being an upper class New Yorker, Amy Dunne wears classic cuts and styles through her early courtship with Nick. To ground the character her early incarnations, Summerville incorporated signature pieces, such as a gold “A” pendent that is removed once Amy hits the road. During the couple’s move to Missouri, Summerville placed the character in looser outfits with “sloppy” fits to highlight the disintegrating marriage.
Amy Dunne also goes through weight fluctuations in the film. To reinforce her character’s transformation during the trailer park scene, Rosamund Pike gained roughly twelve pounds. Summerville enhanced the weight gain by placing Pike in bulky fabrics, as well as adding padding to the actress.
“We added padding to her thighs to help her transform her walk, as well as padding under her bra to change her posture,” said Summerville.
In addition to defining a constantly self-reinventing character and addressing an unraveling, decade-long relationship, Summerville was also incorporating muted palettes in low-light environments. Working closely with Fincher’s staple DP Jeff Cronenweth, early camera test helped Summerville select fabrics and colors that withstood the moody lighting.
“One of the first questions I always ask is what kind of camera we are using,” said Summerville. “Jeff is so knowledgeable and so patient. He takes the time to talk with you about the equipment. He’s extremely well prepared and is the most humble, egoless person you’ll ever meet.”
While Summerville enjoys the fun of designing period costumes where dedicated research aids the process as well as science fiction and fantasy films where she can let her imagination run while, she enjoys the unique challenge contemporary costumes present a designer. Every viewer brings to a project their own viewpoint and style, and their own vision of what a character should be wearing. She’s incredibly humbled by her contemporary costume design nomination for “Gone Girl”, noting it is a particular honor to be nominated by her peers.
“It’s so nice when you are recognized by your peers. They know the amount of work that has been devoted to even the simplest of costumes, and they look at what it took to get there. It’s very exciting and fortifying,” said Summerville.
To learn more about the Costume Designers Guild Awards, please visit: