The Jedi look of the Star Wars universe is known even to those who have never seen a film. Ascetic with strong hints of Asia (and notions of Africa), spiritual, elegant, humble and at the same time grand, it is an aptly and often used reference in contemporary dress. Whether it’s cosplay at a sci-fi convention or a Rick Owens runway, it’s not impossible to find a real life context.
Nehera Fall/Winter 2015
Authored by John Mollo for the first Star Wars film in 1977 (Mollo would go on to costume Alien and Gandhi), the look elucidates George Lucas’s spiritually guided, space-dwelling wizard-knights from a time long long ago in a galaxy far far away. To bring them to life Mollo created a unique language of dress that has since become a part of popular culture and consequently fashion. Long flowing fabrics purposely but casually draped. Tonal palettes made up of white, cream, beige, nut and earth. Shawl and wrapped collars. Wrapped everything. A strong sense of calm as well as power. A look to the future? A memory of the past? You can begin to see what makes it so appealing.
One of the most enjoyable and important interpretations of the Jedi look, and what is possibly one of the best fashion moments in sci-fi history, is actually in the newest Star Wars installment, Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
Marni Spring/Summer 2015
The film was costumed by the legendary designer Michael Kaplan, revered for his work on Blade Runner. Kaplan also worked with Star Wars director J.J. Abrams prior on his well-received Star Trek reboot. The new Star Wars costumes are entirely based on Mollo’s precedent however Kaplan is charged with the hyper-complex task of negotiating late ‘70s retro-futurism with the look of today. The costumes are worthy of his reputation except in seldom moments where the designs are not as convincingly carried by the actors. In these minor but noticeable breaks in suspension of disbelief it was difficult to know whether it was the costume or the limits of the actor.
It’s not significant enough to dwell on. Ultimately, Episode VII is easily the second best Star Wars movie ever made (possibly the best). The film is an amazing experience that Kaplan’s skill and creative invention worked to uplift.
Lemaire Fall/Winter 2015
And there is one special moment where the story, character, and costume come together with such utterly thrilling results. In a gesture, a glance, in the glint of the eye, in the worn but robust fibers of humbly woven cloth comes a fashion moment few films contain. It stirs you. It shakes you. You are truly moved. The depth and significance of this moment is as much about the clothing as it is Abram’s storytelling or the talent of the actor who pulled it off. It’s possible you will begin to see things differently. It may change your eye.
But it’s impossible to tell you what that moment is without spoiling it for those who have not yet seen the film. Those who have know exactly the moment I mean. Those who still need to go, I can tell you only this: the timing is perfect.