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11 Things I Learned from 'Star Wars and the Power of Costume'

By Rebecca Pahle | Star Wars | February 17, 2016 |

By Rebecca Pahle | Star Wars | February 17, 2016 |

On Saturday I ventured out into the freezing wilds of Hoth to Star Wars and the Power of Costume, a travelling exhibition that has currently set up shop near Times Square. Now, there is not a lot that will compel me to brave Times Square on Saturday when it’s as cold as a Wampa’s butthole out, but Star Wars is one of those things. The exhibit features 70 costumes, props and character models (like Yoda, Threepio, Artoo, and a bigger-than-you’d-think BB8), some from the original trilogy, a handful from The Force Awakens (yes, including The Jacket) and a bunch from *shudder* THE PREQUELS. If you can’t go to the exhibit yourself, well, let me be your potty-mouthed tour guide. This goes out to the guy who tried to answer for me when the friend I was with asked me who Dengar is. He just jumped in like he assumed I didn’t know. GOD DAMMIT, I DO KNOW. Men.


Boba Fett wears a cloth belt like a fuckin’ nerd.


Count Dooku’s lightsaber is curved, which seems vaguely dirty and also now I am thinking about Christopher Lee’s dick. Christopher Lee is great and all, but I would rather not do that.


Padme is a fan of Space Delia’s.


One of the really cool things about the exhibit is the way it lets you view some of the costumes from all angles. Did you know Leia’s famous white dress from A New Hope has a hole in the back of the hood, as if for a ponytail? Because I didn’t! It’s like a space snapback!


Young Mon Mothma, like Anne of Green Gables, knows the value of a PUFFED MOTHERFUCKING SLEEVE.


Costume director Trisha Biggar is a goddess. I am generally loathe to say anything positive about the prequels, but her work on them, viewed up close, absolutely takes your breath away. There’s all this detail—beaded collars, colorful linings, textured fabrics—that you’d never see on-screen, but she did them anyway, because she is A Boss. One of my favorite displays was this trifecta of dresses, each worn during the prequels by a different Queen of Naboo. On the left is Attack of the Clones’ Queen Jamillia (Ayesha Dharker); the middle dress belongs to Keisha Castle-Hughes’ Queen Apailana (Revenge of the Sith), and on the right is one of Amidala’s umpteen numbers. You can tell instantly from looking at these dresses that they belong to three different women who, though they hail from the same culture, are vastly different in personality. Jamillia’s dress is darker, with cleaner lines, more somber and understated. Apailana displays a more youthful energy, with her bright, metallic hue and good God, that marabou. And then there’s Padme, whose regal presence (and even more regal gowns) fill the room. We get all this through costumes that are on-screen for only a few seconds. Every single costume—and there are A LOT OF THEM—tell a story, as the very best costumes should. I’m going to have to struggle to keep the vomit from rising as I type this, but the prequels deserved some Oscar recognition here. There, I said it.

Palpatine dresses like trash. His top left ensemble utilizes sofa upholstery, and that outfit on the top right… hoo boy. STOP TAKING FASHION ADVICE FROM PRINCE FARQUAAD. Bottom left is a man who’s stopped caring, and you can fit a good three full turkeys in each sleeve on the bottom right. Actually, I don’t know whether that’s a bad or a good.


There’s this really cool retro sci-fi vibe in much of the prequels’ costuming that I didn’t notice because I was too busy hating everything. Bail Organa (top left) can get it, the Naboo pilot looks like an extra straight out of The Rocketeer, and Padme’s blaster (bottom right) is straight-up Mad Men. Look at that wood panelling!

ALL THE WOMEN WORE COMFORTABLE SHOES. I never really paid attention to footwear in the Star Wars universe, but going through the Power of Costume exhibit, I saw a lot of practical, comfortable-looking boots and not a single painful-looking heel. Not even on supreme fancy dresser Padme, though admittedly her dresses were typically so voluminous that she could’ve been wearing Chucks under there and no one would have known. Even the “slave Leia” bikini, (in)famous for its male gaze-iness, is accompanied by some practical, if squid monster-festooned, boots. Somebody make sure Colin “HEELS ARE EMPOWERING” Trevorrow, directing Episode IX, gets the memo.

Vader has a dick hatch. We’re gonna need a space zoom here:


Look at that. Look at the rectangle on his codpiece. What other possible practical purpose could that serve other than being some sort of panel that slides up so Vader can take a piss? I would welcome any other explanation. I feel like I’ve found the fucking Da Vinci Code here.

Zam Wesell, Lesbian Boba Fett, wears leggings as pants. Take that, high school dress codes!