In the history of movies, few wardrobes have become quite as iconic as Star Wars costumes. From Darth Vader's famous black helmet to Princess Leia's legendary hair buns, the wardrobe crew undoubtedly played a huge role in imprinting George Lucas's sprawling space opera on the public consciousness. The stories behind many of the costumes seen throughout the fictional universe are delightfully random, occasionally symbolic, and just plain cool.
Here you'll get a backstage look at some of the wardrobe secrets behind everyone's favorite sci-fi film saga. Learn where the movie's designers sought - or, in a few cases, accidentally stumbled upon - inspiration for the looks of characters whose screen personas have been so memorably defined by the costumes they wore.
Designers Look For Characters That Will Make Cool Action Figures, No Matter How Small Their RolePhoto: Amazon
Rogue One costume designers Dave Crossman and Glyn Dillon had their work cut out for them when it came to designing around 700 costumes needed for their standalone film. "Just as much work went into our background characters as the primary ones," Dillon explained to The Hollywood Reporter. "With Star Wars films, a background character has just as much chance of achieving some kind of immortality by becoming a toy or trading card or having an entire comic book devoted to them, so every costume has to cut the mustard."
Meanwhile, the creators of the famed Black Series toy line were working just as hard on the action figure versions of the characters, even while the film was still in production. Steve Evans, Hasbro’s Star Wars design director, explained, "We don’t see the movie any earlier, really, than the fans." Working from production stills, the team is never quite sure how large or small a character's role will be in the final cut. That's why bounty hunter Constable Zuvio ended up with his own action figure for The Force Awakens, despite only appearing briefly in the background of one scene.
Han Solo's Look In The Original Trilogy Was Inspired By The Old WestPhoto: A New Hope / 20th Century Fox
As far as widespread pop culture goes, Han Solo was sort of the original space cowboy. With his sleek vest, jeans, boots, and low-slung holster - courtesy of original costume designer John Mollo - Han always appeared ready to whip out his weapon, like a cowboy with his hand hovering over his trusty six-shooter.
"The sense was that he was cowboy-like,” Mollo's son, Tom, revealed after his father's passing. "He was probably the most Western of the characters."
The cowboy look not only went a long way in giving Solo a sense of swagger, but it also specifically contributed to the dramatic mood of certain scenes. "That’s why I think that cantina scene is so amazing," Mollo said. "It's very saloon-like. My father was in large part responsible for the look of that scene."
The Praetorian Guards' Attire In ‘TLJ’ Was Designed To Be Ready For CombatPhoto: The Last Jedi / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Costume designer Michael Kaplan is credited with the design of more than a thousand costumes for The Last Jedi. He explained to The New York Times that when it came to looking for inspiration, he returned to some of the same time-honored sources as the costume designers in the earlier films.
"The old movies looked to Japan. The original costume designers looked at a lot of ninja clothes. They looked at westerns. And they looked at WWII and a little bit at WWI," Kaplan said. "I went to the same sources they did. I didn’t want to reinvent Star Wars. I wanted to embrace it and update it."
When asked about his favorite costumes from the movie, he cited those of the Praetorian Guard. Kaplan went on to explain that he wanted the costumes worn by the actors to have not only a unique feel, but also a highly functional quality.
"We looked at 1950s muscle cars. The costumes had to be on stuntmen who were fighting very hard," Kaplan said. "They use weapons and they need to have complete range of motion. And if these guys fall, you don't want the armor cracking. And the helmets look like they have no way of seeing, but there’s actually tiny slits, and they can see out perfectly well. They're very samurai, very Japanese, but very clean."
'Close Encounters' Inspired The Appearance Of The Kaminoans In ‘Attack of the Clones’Photo: Attack of the Clones / 20th Century Fox
The look of the tall, supermodel-esque Kaminoan characters in Attack of the Clones was originally inspired by a movie directed by George Lucas's good friend, Steven Spielberg. "The Kamino design was a very deliberate nod to the classic alien of Close Encounters," Lucas acknowledged.
Their large eyes were also influenced by the innocent look of a seal.
Though the characters were created digitally, stand-in actors were used to play the Kaminoans in the scenes filmed with live actors. The only problem was, the stand-ins were far shorter than the Kaminoans were supposed to be. To help the actors maintain the correct eye-lines, the stand-ins wore hardhats with cardboard cutouts of the Kaminoans' necks and heads taped to the top.