Welcome to The StarWars.com 10, a feature where StarWars.com’s editorial staff huddles to discuss — in a committee — various topics relating to a galaxy far, far away. Today we’re looking at the top fashions, from princess gowns to Jedi outfits, in the Star Wars universe.
It’s Fashion Week, something not normally associated with a galaxy far, far away. But Star Wars is filled with fashion. Star Wars costumes blend the styles of different cultures, eras, and places to create something wholly unique yet familiar — and they also inform how we view certain characters, their state of mind, and where they’re going. So, Star Wars and Fashion Week may have more in common than one would think — from a certain point of view — and this list celebrates the stunning designs made real in the Star Wars films. Note: This list does not include uniforms or masked characters (i.e., no Stormtroopers, Rebel pilots, or Darth Vader).
10. Count Dooku, Attack of the Clones
When audiences first meet Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones, there’s little known about him, except that he was once a Jedi and he’s leading the Separatist movement. Fittingly, his outfit is Jedi-like with swashbuckler boots and tunic, but he doesn’t look quite like a guardian of peace and justice. Instead, Dooku’s suit is dark-hued, looking clean and proper, signifying a sense of materialism and greed. It’s a simple design, but bare and powerful, perfectly hinting at something sinister beneath.
9. Handmaidens, The Phantom Menace
The handmaiden design from The Phantom Menace is completely successful, as it looks like a companion piece to several of the queen’s gowns in color and fit, but is appropriately simple. It mainly stands out thanks to its unique blend of colors, fading from red to yellow, and helps to illustrate the distinctive fashion inherent to specific worlds. Now, when one sees robes such as the handmaidens’, Naboo immediately comes to mind.
8. Leia Organa (Bikini), Return of the Jedi
Leia’s infamous “slave” bikini is one of the most well-known outfits in all of Star Wars. There’s truly nothing else like it in any of the films, mixing metal and cloth in a retro-futuristic look. Easily the most revealing of Star Wars costumes, it’s interesting to note other salient details, like the curved elements that seem to snake around the princess — a deep contrast to the straight lines seen in most Star Wars designs — recalling her slithery captor. In the years since Return of the Jedi‘s release, it has come to be a symbol of Leia’s strength, as she turns a dire situation into a triumphant one.
7. Luke Skywalker, Return of the Jedi
On the surface, Luke Skywalker’s black Jedi suit reflects his internal battle with the dark side. But on its own, the outfit is unequivocally cool, blending a tunic and vest into a traditional Jedi wardrobe, accentuated by a sharp utility belt. Luke looks genuinely powerful in it, which is especially important in his early confrontation with Jabba, who does not take the young Jedi’s threats seriously.
6. Han Solo, A New Hope
Vest, black boots, and a holster. Han Solo looks like a futuristic cowboy in A New Hope, and it’s one of the most famous costumes in movie history. In some ways, the design shouldn’t work — blue pants with a black vest and an off-white shirt is a strange combination — but it just does, and details like horizontal red lines piping down the pants add a decidedly Star Wars flair to the ensemble. As a true testament to the outfit’s success, it has proven popular with cosplayers both male and female.
5. Padmé Amidala (Wedding Gown), Attack of the Clones
Only seen briefly at the end of Attack of the Clones, Padmé’s wedding gown is an elegant dress filled with patterns and details. It has an antique feel — stemming from the fact that it was made partially from a vintage Australian bedspread — with an off-white color and see-through quality. The accompanying headdress and veil, ornately decorated, add balance to the design and cements this as one of Padmé’s most beautiful dresses.
4. Anakin Skywalker, Revenge of the Sith
Among all the Jedi, Anakin shows the most style. In Revenge of the Sith, his Jedi uniform is wholly unique, with a tunic, darker colors, and matches his mechanical arm. It’s reminiscent of Count Dooku’s outfit, but is more kinetic, with wrinkles and layers expressing the character’s inner turmoil.
3. Lando Calrissian, The Empire Strikes Back
Lando’s wardrobe is pretty much perfect for who he is and where he is. Sleek black pants and a sky blue top with matching cape — perfect for a scoundrel overseeing Cloud City. It’s suave, dashing, and confident. The color scheme remains unique to Lando, as it should.
2. Leia Organa (Medal Ceremony), A New Hope
Many fans think of Leia’s hooded robe as her quintessential outfit, but her medal ceremony gown is much more interesting design-wise, taking elements of her robe and making something new. With a striking silver belt and tapering layers that extend down from her shoulders, it strikes a balance between simplicity and sophisticated, far above anything else in her wardrobe. It also forms a nice bookend with the type of fare we’d see her mother sporting in the prequel trilogy, showcasing that this galaxy far, far away does have fashion traditions.
1. Padmé Amidala, The Phantom Menace
“George [Lucas] said that [The Phantom Menace] is definitely a costume drama,” recounted concept artist Iain McCaig. “Especially for the queen.” Indeed, Padmé Amidala wears a number of stylized dresses and exotic formal wear in The Phantom Menace, all of which required an incredible amount of design work, refinement, and craft for what was only a few minutes (or even seconds) of screen time. Yet the level of detail and the number of dresses the queen wears in The Phantom Menace tell us about the tradition of Naboo, its culture, and its art, adding a significant layer to the Star Wars universe. And out of all those outfits, none are more impressive than Padmé’s iconic, regal gown. Inspiration for the design came from numerous countries and cultures, including Mongolia and Tibet, and much of the credit goes to McCaig and costume designer Trisha Biggar. Biggar created the costumes for the entire prequel trilogy, combining fabrics from all over the world and utilizing colors and tones that would work and excel with different lighting and movement, and say something about the character. Padmé’s throne room robe exemplifies this. It’s driven by a bold red, conveying the queen’s strong personality and willingness to fight, as would be seen in the film’s climax; it has strange details, like the large, oval jewels just above the hem, that somehow work, creating a symmetry with both the gown’s sleeves and accompanying three-pointed head piece; and it makes familiar Asian motifs seem completely Star Wars. It was an eye-opening costume when first seen in the trailer for The Phantom Menace, and it remains a stunning work of art.
That’s it. What do you think? Did we nail it? Are we out of our minds? Did we overlook something? Let us know in the comments below!