Era: Prequel Trilogy Era: The Clone Wars Essay

The historicity of Satine Kryze

I feel kind of awful discussing Satine Kryze after so many weeks of Maul but, well, when in Mandalore…

Duchess Satine Kryze is pacifist the ruler of Mandalore first introduced in The Clone Wars episode The Mandalore Plot. Her initial design was drawn from an unused McCaig concept for The Phantom Menace, but it has also been stated that Cate Blanchett was a key influence in her overall design. (given the appearance of Governor Pryce in Rebels season 3, it’s apparent that Blanchett is someone’s favourite over at LFL.) Blanchett’s role as Queen Elizabeth I was particularly drawn on, Satine’s key costuming borrowing many late Tudor/early Elizabethan elements, and certain parallels between the two women’s lives.

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L: Elizabeth as portrayed by Cate Blanchett with Robert Dudley (Joseph Fiennes) in Elizabeth. Preparing to be escorted to her incarceration in the Tower of London at the order of her sister Queen Mary I (’Bloody Mary’). R: Satine Kryze being rescued from her imprisonment by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Lawless.

Satine, as a young woman, lived her early years constantly at threat during the Mandalorian Civil War, her pacifist ideology at odds with ‘true’ warrior-like Mandalorian ways. Eventually peace was brokered, and Satine ruled over the New Mandalore even as violence, danger and oppositional factions brewed. In a way this could be seen to draw from Queen Elizabeth I’s tumultuous childhood: first as a child out of favour with her father King Henry VIII, being the child of ‘treasonous’ Anne Boleyn, then as a protestant young woman in the reign of her Catholic half-sister Queen Mary I. In this time Elizabeth was raised as a figurehead for Protestant rebellion, which eventually led to her detainment in the tower of London despite her claim of innocence. Throughout her reign Elizabeth faced a number of incidents of opposition from catholics and the Roman Catholic Church, though her attitude was one of pragmatic compromise in many aspects of religion. These parallels are loose but notable in their broad brushstrokes.

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Original Amidala sketch by Iain McCaig for The Phantom Menace

When designing Amidala for The Phantom Menace, McCaig was working through a ‘Space Nouveau’ aesthetic, borrowing elements from the works of Mucha, the Pre-Raphaelites and retro-futuristic romance of the first half of the twentieth century. Technology and nature in harmony. This design, when stripped back for animation to be practical, emphasised those now notably familiar Star Wars lines that borrow from Japanese fashions, whilst still retaining the Romantic aspects. the shapes of Satine’s headpiece echoes the increasingly elaborate ruffs and wired collarettes that grew exponentially throughout the fashions of the sixteenth century. The headpiece and gown are also heavy with symbolism: shell earrings and embellishments, the repeating petal shapes in her sleeves, skirts and tabbards as well as the literal lillies woven into her hair and headpiece loudly communicating her pacifism. She is visually placing herself within her own principles for all to see, decrying the past violence of her people, and the relative simplicity of this costume despite its ceremony (block colours and controlled embellishment – though the fabrics are clearly indicated to be silks) saves her message from being drowned out. These symbolic embellishments have been a popular aspect portraiture for centuries to communicate and sway power and impressions, in portraits of Elizabeth I the symbolic choices appear in their multitudes from props to tiny embellishements to the very styling of her hair. In the famed Rainbow Portrait (below) of Elizabeth I – a fantasy portrait painted late in her reign, but depicting a young newly crowned queen dressed for masque – embroidered eyes and ears show that she is a queen that Sees and Hears all. A queen in absolute control of her land.

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L & C: McCaig’s design reworked and streamlined by Killian Plunkett to work both within The Clone Wars aesthetic and for the character. This is a great example of concept recycling and adaptation for character, as when this design was originally selected as a base design for Satine, it wasn’t known that she would be quite so active and ‘dynamic’ as she ended up in the episodes. [X] R: The Rainbow Portrait, 1600-02, attributed to Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger.

This organic silhouette at odds with the old is also visible in Satine’s landscape. Mandalore was designed drawing heavily from the Cubist movement in the most literal way. Their cities are built inside cubes within their destroyed environment. Sharp angles occur in everything from buildings, hair, food and ice cubes, floor texturing. Interspersed throughout are the diamond shapes and lines of Mandalorian armour, shifting into an Art Deco boundary between the Cubist harshness and Satine’s Nouveau romance. This mid-design point means that Satine is not entirely in opposition with her environment – her world and her people. These diamond shapes are present in the cut of her open oversleeves. She visually acknowledges Mandalore’s history whilst representing the new. (Equally, this could be seen in that her costume – despite it’s ceremony – holds little impediment to action and self-defence when necessary.)

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The main plaza on Mandalore, clearly showing the Cubist influenced design, complete with detailed mural depicting the Civil War, and repeating diamond shapes.

Satine’s next notable costume looks a lot like she just walked out of an ‘80′s fantasy film and it is fantastic. The romance is heavy in this look with the long, soft lines and the muted pinks, particularly as she and Obi-Wan investigate the Death Watch on the industrial Concordia. She wears a shortened surcoat that mimics the cut of a man’s doublet, a fashion that was favoured throughout the sixteenth century, and appeared in both French and Italian fashions (Italian styles fell out of favour in much of Europe in the latter half of the century as Spain became increasingly influential.) This fashion has appeared, heavily embellished, in a number of portraits of Elizabeth I, reflective of her dichotomy as woman and sovereign, as expressed in her famous address at Tilbury,

I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king 

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Satine’s ‘80′s adventuring costume.

The harsh cutaway style of Satine’s surcoat also mimics late eighteenth century frock coats and equestrian fashions, clearly communicating to the audience that is Time For Adventure! even whilst calling back to the late Tudor fashion for skirts cut to reveal heavily embroidered petticoats. Again, echoes of those Mandalorian armour diamonds are introduced in this cut, whilst organic elements are retained in shell detailing and the floral line of her chemise. Satine, too, must address her dichotomy of being in her very appearance.

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L: Portrait of Mary Stuart (aka Mary Queen of Scots), c. 1559, Francois Clouet. R: Portrait of a Noblewoman, c. 1580, Lavinia Fontana. Mary Stuart is shown in a French doublet-styled bodice, whilst Fontana’s portrait is in the Italian giuppone style. The possibility of a Mary Stuart influence in Satine feels particularly apt given their mutual martyrdom. Mary, a devout Catholic who also lived a tumultuous life at odds with her country, was executed by Elizabeth for her movements to depose the heretical English queen.

Satine’s final costume – in both its forms – is by far her most interesting and most historical. Its basic silhouette is a slimmed down take on the late Tudor/early Elizabethan bell shaped gown using the verdugle, or Spanish farthingale. As I mentioned above styles were influenced by politics, and the Spanish styles were favoured from the marriage of Katharine of Aragon to Henry VIII until late in Elizabeth I’s reign, when French fashions were favoured due to threatening war with Spain. (Anne Boleyn was known to have been bold in her favouring of French fashions as a couriter in the time of Katharine of Aragon, though styes were generally mixed.) Obviously Satine is not wearing a farthingale – it would be impractical, and her gown is later stripped away. But this is a politically influence shift in style: the symbolism in dress is stripped away, the flamboyance is gone. I have joked in private that maybe Satine borrowed the Naboo royal dressmaker, but there is little doubt that her ceremonial costume was designed with an eye to the wider galactic stage and what would be recognised as regal garb. This is a much stricter silhouette – upright, austere though still richly (but subtly) embellished. It is a design turned inward. Those Cubist elements are creeping into the lines of her skirt as she is taking a stand for her people and for New Mandalore.

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L: Duchess Satine Kryze in Shades of Reason. C: Elizabeth I when a princess, c. 1546, attributed to William Scrots. This early fashion for oversleeves is also evident in Satine’s first ceremonial costume, as is the split skirt. R: A Young Lady Aged 21, Possibly Helena Snakenborg, Later Marchioness of Northampton, 1569, the British School (a personal favourite.) Here you can see shoulder rolls and the broad neckline with delicate open infill.

Again, we are seeing a dichotomy between the feminine and masculine, her sleeves and stand neck calling back to those borrowed from the pourpoint doublet, the sleeves studded and bracciali, shoulder rolls, taking on the look of armoured pauldrons. The broad neckline introducing that diamond shape yet again and placing it directly against petal shapes of the stiff stand collar mimicking the guimpe, typically soft infill, now strengthened and yet vulnerable and exposed. Satine is strong in her beliefs, but the ground beneath her feet is vanishing rapidly.

As this arc progresses, the costume is ripped, stripped away and softened. Embellishment – such as her jewels and belt – are removed, her hair is loose, her skirt shortened. It is here that those Cubist elements become even more apparent in the front tabbard-like section of her skirt, echoing the split-skirt Tudor fashion. Interestingly, these stylistic elements were favoured by Elizabeth when she was young, unstable in her position as princess and then, later, queen.

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Satine Kryze, deposed, imprisoned and the worse for wear.

It is relevant to notice at this point Satine’s colour palette. Her main colour is blue – particularly this deep prussiany blue – feminine whilst also strong. The colour of Mandalore. She and her people are not part of the war, but at this point she is caught – personally – between the personal vendettas of Maul and Obi-Wan, both of whom are sliding into bloody reds and browns. She is the middle ground, trapped. Pinks and reds emerge in her costumes at various points when she is knowingly heading into danger, the pinks of her Adventuring costume, the red of Coruscant costume when she is on the run in The Duchess of Mandalore. Satine’s primary ceremonial gown has elements of purple and greens – she is in power, and in control. A ruler in her prime. But in this final arc she is blue and stripped of everything but her principles, and yet perhaps at her most Mandalorian? Considering Padme’s watery funeral gown, it appears that blue is the colour of martyrdom.

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