The Denver Art Museum is hosting a new exhibit entitled “Star Wars and the Power of Costume”. It runs through April 2, and is well worth a visit, even if you are not a Star Wars fan. In addition to a close-up look at over 70 stunning and incredibly intricate costumes, the exhibit tells the story of the importance of costumes in film, and the job they do in creating and conveying character. Many of the Star Wars actors recalled that putting on the costume for the first time was the point at which they completely understood their character. As Samuel Jackson said,
“I saw this Jedi costume…At last I had an idea of who I was, how to carry myself, and I had a way of being.”
Costume designs began in the art department. George Lucas would describe his vision of a character, and artists would then try to depict that vision, often referring to history and nature for inspiration. They hoped that by incorporating historical influences (for example, masks and headdresses worn by actual people in history) that it would help the audience subliminally identify with the characters in an alien, Star Wars galaxy. Visitors to this exhibit can view the actual concept design sketches and better understand how characters were developed.
There is much to marvel about here. For example, the surface of Chewbacca’s costume is hand-knitted with 15 pounds of multicolored yak hair and mohair! It is interesting to note that the designers intentionally modeled Han Solo’s outfit after classic American gunslinger heroes. Many of the costumes worn by the women characters were exquisite. Consider the bridal gown, worn by Padme Amidala at her wedding to Anakin Skywalker. It was made from an antique Italian lace bedspread with 300 yards of handmade French-knit braid. The costume designer spent the night before filming hand-sewing small pearls over the entire gown in order to give it a little something “extra”!
Visitors to this exhibit walk away with a much better understanding and appreciation for the time, details and thought that goes into costume design and the power of costume!
Find out more at the museum’s website found here or the video below.