When we caught up with Carson Kressley at the Top of the Standard after-party for The Hunger Games last night, it felt only right to ask the reality-TV fashion guru about all those outrageous costumes in the movie. But as it turns out, Kressley is a big Hunger Games fan, and he had plenty of witty things to say about all aspects of the big-screen adaptation, from which guy Katniss should end up with to which Real Housewives might come out the victor if they were pitted against each other by the Capitol.
Have you read the books?
I read the books, yes — but then it kind of ruins it, because you know everything that's going to happen! So I don't recommend reading the book, in general [before seeing the film]. I read it a couple weeks ago, I was in an airport, and there was nothing that looked good, and I was going, "Hmmm, the Rick Santorum story or Hunger Games? I'll go for Hunger Games."
Are you Team Peeta or Team Gale?
I'd take Team Peeta. Gale kind of gets lost. There's one point in the book where she holds him, before she goes off to the games, and she realizes how hard and muscular he is, and how he smells, and that plants the seed of adolescent lust in the reader's mind, but in the movie, he just kind of looks like a cute guy who is the hometown hero. You kind of got it at the end because she's like, "Oh! I don't know if I love Peeta or if I love Gale." I smell a sequel. A threequel.
What did you think about how they did the makeup and costumes and hair for the people in the Capitol?
I didn't love that. And in the books, it's not really elaborated on, you just know that people in the Capitol have many more resources and they're living the high life. But I didn't suspect they would look like extras from Wicked! It felt very Wicked-y to me. I thought they'd have modern, glamorous clothes on, like they'd all be wearing Gwyneth Paltrow's dress from the Oscars. It just takes you to a different place.
What about what the tributes wore? What would you have done if you were dressing Katniss or another tribute?
I love the "Girl on Fire" dress — both of them. Of course, I love all things flaming. I think they looked great. I would have done sparkle and light and reflective surfaces, make them really ferocious. I might have made them a little edgier, like the red dress with the flaming bottom was kind of like a little not that inventive. But it did seem dangerous. You don't wear that to a party! You start twirling, you'll burn the place down!
What if you were in the games? Do you have any survival skills you could use?
If there was a store, I would have been a really good shopper. I probably would have been good at the cornucopia. I would distract them, and go, "Oh my God, thigh-high riding boots, five dollars?! Look over there!" And then I would steal all the knives.
Can you throw knives?
Oh God, no. I can't do anything like that. I did shoot a gun once. I did a show where I had to do target practice, and I didn't want to shoot the guy, because the target guy looked like Karl Lagerfeld. It was awkward. I thought Stanley Tucci's guy [Caesar Flickerman] was very Karl Lagerfeld. Kind of. In shinier fabric, of course. And in navy, not black. But I saw traces of Karl.
Do you think we're heading to a Hunger Games–like future as far as reality television is concerned?
I do think it kind of made a cool social statement about how everything has become a reality-TV show, and every reality-TV show has become a contest, and I guess that would be the ultimate contest. Anytime I've done a reality-TV show, they say, "We need stakes!" And these are some pretty high stakes when someone dies. Also, very Roman — we've been there already. It would be kind of cool to see an iron cage match between The Real Housewives of New York and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. My money's on New York, just because they're tough broads. With the exception of Lisa Vanderpump, they would chew them up and eat them for breakfast. Although in Hunger Games, you're not allowed to eat the bodies.
Anything you missed from the books?
I wish we would have seen more of the makeover process, but that's just me. You know, I could play one of the makeover guys. I'm going to go find the director and tell him that! [Laughs.]