Essay

Princess Leia on Hoth

Princess Leia Organa Hoth costume displayed at the Star Wars Identities exhibition, London.

Today we lost a princess and a general, so what better time to look back at one of Leia’s most understated leadership looks. Empire Strikes Back showed a princess who was giving her everything to the Rebellion, maintaining moral and hope in the harshest of environments and in the face of absolute destruction, abandoning her post only when absolutely forced. Remember: She drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.

The first costume worn by Princess Leia in The Empire Strikes Back, this costume continued Leia’s familiar iconography whilst firmly placing her in an active and practical role. Unlike the gowns of the previous film, Leia now wears a combat snowsuit. This is the most identifiably ‘real world’ costume worn by Leia in the original trilogy. She both blends with and stands out from the rebels around her, maintaining her air of regal leadership even as she mucks in. The stand collar of her suit and the padded collar of her gilet both echo back to the collar and hood of her famous hero gown in A New Hope. The clean silhouette of this costume, with subtle quilting details and the simple lines of the waistband a zip-line continues the refined, understated Alderaanian elegance already established.

The colour palette worn by the rebels of Echo Base sits in shades of tan, beige and off-white. Leia’s shades of white and ivory are all her own, making her stand out and easy to follow on-camera on Hoth, and making her an isolated figure of light in the carbon freezing chamber when the snowsuit is worn again on Cloud City.

We followed the colour palette of the first  one. It was just creating the winter variants of the same things.
John Mollo, Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy

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Note the difference in boots between this image from the set of Empire Strikes Back, and those displayed at SWID. The higher-wedge, grey boots are clearly visible in the infamous hallways scene with Han Solo (along with the cunningly disguised box Fisher was standing on) and in a number of other scenes, whereas the lower mukluk-style boots from the exhibition are clearly worn when Fisher is running towards the Falcon during the Echo Base evacuation. Skimming quickly through Empire, the darker boots show on camera more often giving the impression that the exhibition boots are Fisher’s stunt boots and the grey pair are the hero boots. However, the grey boots appear to be modified purchased boots. The exhibition boots have been made to specification. The most likely explanation is that the grey boots were intended to be off-camera boots to lend Fisher height, but they ended up being established on-camera against design (due to change in angles/shot order etc. before changes could be made or noted.) However, in Star Wars Costumes book, the mukluk-stye are described as the hero boots. A mystery!

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