by Nick Sheppard
We get to the theater with only five minutes to snag an ICEE, secure some popcorn, and find our seats. I thank the Lady God above for reserved seating as the Lucasfilm logo glints across the screen. Yes, I finally saw Solo: A Star Wars Story. Yes, that movie has been out for a while now. Yes, perhaps I’m not the most upstanding Star Wars stan, ok? But I’ve not come here to talk about that. I’d like to discuss clothes, if you please.
For the most part, Solo keeps to the remixed Star Wars costuming we’ve gotten from the Disney installments, but the party scene aboard the Crimson Dawn’s ultra-luxe space yacht — known as the First Light — caught my attention.
As the camera pans through this soirée in a galaxy far, far away, we’re focused on the entertainment (see photo above). A vision of sci-fi glamour takes center stage. While we don’t catch her name or see her for long, she is the style moment of Solo. Dawning a golden shimmery dress with an equally dazzling headpiece and mouth apparatus, Aurodia Ventafoli looks like she has been borrowed from a Tom Ford runway and accessorized by Alexander McQueen. Which got me thinking…is this a Star Wars movie or a fragrance ad? Maybe we’ve just never seen the glitzy side of this sci-fi universe; maybe Disney is pushing for higher-end, more commercially and visually alluring visuals than George Lucas did; maybe this is just what a contemporary Star Wars aesthetic looks like. This powerhouse franchise has captured the attention of fashion for much of its history, but Ms. Ventafoli has got me wondering if now it’s the other way around.From the first moments of A New Hope to the party scene aboard the First Light, Star Wars has delivered Death Star payloads of influential costuming. Vader’s iconic Shogun-inspired regalia, the metallic complexions of everyone’s favorite droids C-3PO and R2-D2, and the over the top monarchical garments and makeup of Padme Amidala are just a few examples (Wait, he left out Princess Leia’s buns? How could he forget the BUNS?!?).
The fashion world took notice and acted decisively; in November of 1977, six months after that beautiful yellow scroll floated away for the first time, Vogue featured a spread where models posed with characters from the blockbuster called “The ‘Force’ of Fur.”
Several designers became enamored by the original and prequel trilogies. Thiery Mugler released his collection “The Future is Now” in 1979, a sci-fi fantasy show that the New York Times marked as influenced by “Star Wars syndrome.” Yves Saint Laurent released a cosmetics line inspired by Queen Amidala of The Phantom Menace in 1999, swiftly selling out.
The new Disney Age of the franchise has been no different. With the dawn of a new trilogy, brands like Rodarte and Preen featured dresses with screen prints of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in their 2014 runway shows. All the models at Raf Simmons prefall 2015 show for Dior had braided loops à la Leia. For the Star Wars fans whose wallets didn’t have a Hut-size amount of credits, Cover Girl released a special line of cosmetics for The Force Awakens and Rag and Bone collaborated with Disney on a collection inspired by The Last Jedi. Whether subtly nodded to, pinned up on a mood board, or directly inspired by the franchise, the fashion industry has only deepened its love affair with Star Wars. Perhaps after all these years of seeing itself reflected and reimagined in this galaxy’s fashion, the Force would like to take inspiration from what it has inspired.
So now we’ve arrived at this year’s newest installment, Solo: A Star Wars Story, at the aforementioned party scene aboard the yacht of the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn. The party goers are festooned with masks, headpieces, and prosthetics that give the room a distinct Star Wars vibe, but their clothes are thoroughly modern. Our space soprano Aurodia Ventafoli’s dress is reminiscent of a Tom Ford design, almost a cousin to the red Tom Ford dress that Amal Clooney slipped into after the Met Gala runway this year.
Paul Bettany’s character, Dryden Vos, sports a half-caped suit that is not dissimilar to a design from Olivier Rousteing’s FW18 collection for Balmain.
The pointed shoulders featured on the dresses of Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) and other Crimson Dawn groupies are also seen in men and womenswear collections from Tom Ford and Balmain from the past few seasons. What is all this fashion suddenly doing appearing in a Star Wars movie?
That might be a sort of silly question, come to think of it, because here’s the reality: Star Wars is fashion as much as fashion is Star Wars. As their relationship has developed, the two worlds have grown close together. Jedi robes and “astromechs” have weaved their way so deeply into the fabric of popular design that fashion is what it is today due in no small part to the vision of Star Wars. Now when a costume designer makes the decision to dress a Star Wars character in a pointed shoulder, that fashion concept has roots in Thiery Mugler’s designs from 1979, those very designs which were inspired by the first Star Wars film. This scene from Solo: A Star Wars Story isn’t Star Wars incorporating high fashion – it’s the cinematic representation of a meta-reincorporation of Star Wars-inspired fashion into a Star Wars film.Solo: A Star Wars Story might be the first time the franchise has so clearly reflected its role on late 20th and early 21st century fashion with such acuity. As long as Star Wars films keep coming out (which I think is a guarantee, at least until the sun swallows the Earth), the more intersubjective the relationship between the franchise’s image and the designs of high fashion will become. So to address the version of myself sitting in the movie theater (waiting for Charlize Theron to step into the scene only to sternly whisper “J’adore”): it’s not that Star Wars is just now looking at fashion for inspiration — it’s that they’ve been looking at each other from the beginning. •
Nick Sheppard is a third year Government major and has been with Spark for two semesters. He enjoys playing with his toy poodle Penny and is currently hunting for a good yellow eyeliner that isn’t thirty freaking dollars.