I had been planning to skip on writing a post this week, after all it’s not like I’m one for regularity or consistency. It’s been a dark and frightening week for so many, too many, with global ramifications. This afternoon I went to see Arrival which is a film I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I won’t lie, I cried for about an hour afterwards. I can’t help but feel that it was scheduled to be released into a brighter world, a more optimistic week, but it is a wonderful and moving film and, honestly, the film that we need. Right now. Everyone should go and see it and open their minds and their hearts and just enjoy a film that both engages and challenges. I feel like, maybe, it will at the end of 2016 be a quiet sister-film to Rogue One. Time will tell.
More importantly, and relevantly, it is a rare film that acknowledges motherhood and the importance of it it, the importance of connection. Even amongst politics, first contact, and the seeming threat of the end of days. Which leads me (tenuously) to the actual subject of this week’s post (which will be a short one):
A long time ago – a long long time ago – I got an ask on my main blog that I never got around to answering, asking about the parallels between Padme’s Mustafar costume and Leia’s Boussh disguise. The similarities between the two costumes and scenarios are undeniable. Both costumes are worn by these women when they undergo a personal and dangerous mission to try to rescue the man that they love – one from falling over the brink into the darkside, one from imprisonment – a fun inversion of the Rescue the Princess trope. Neither mission goes entirely to plan, both women are stripped of their autonomy for greater or worse. But unlike her mother before her, Leia is ultimately and eventually successful in rescuing Han Solo from Jabba’s clutches.
L & C: Boush sketches by Nilo Rodis-Jamero, R: The completed costume from the archives
Somewhat notoriously Boushh, like Boba Fett before her, was a Joe Johnston creation. However, whereas Boba Fett was fleshed out from a rough helmet sketch by Ralph McQuarrie, Boushh was first explored in 3D by Johnston before any design pinned down. Using model kits, odds and ends and scraps from the costume and manufacturing workshops, a maquette was built around an artist’s model that was then passed on to the costume department. Due to this unusual prototyping approach, it meant that the influences in the design itself were primarily internal. The underlayer of a kimono, the wide belt called back to those same Japanese influences seen elsewhere in the franchise with Obi-Wan, Yoda and Luke, transposed into hardy suedes, leathers and rubbers. The quarter-circle cape was a nod back to Boba Fett placing her firmly within the galaxy’s underbelly:
‘It was supposed to be a different kind of bounty hunter. there were a bunch of them in the palace.’
Joe Johnston, p. 125, Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy
The helmet shape was so other, that it took extensive building and reshaping to form something that could be comfortably worn by a person, nevermind taken off easily on camera.
L: Sketches by Iain McCaig ‘The red is in her hair because it’s the end of the film, and i thought she might be going after the bull [Anakin] – Iain McCaig, The Art of Star Wars Episode III R: The final costume.
The costume worn by the heavily pregnant Padme to go after Anakin on Mustafar went through some vague conceptual explorations, before falling on this design. It is neat and simple, arguably elegant, a galaxy away from the complexity of the Boushh disguise, but it is obvious that it was used as a key influence. The suede fabric and colouring directly parallels the Return of the Jedi costume whilst making it something new. The front panel and sloped hemline echoes the under-kimono and fall of Boushh’s cape, whilst creating an empire-line shape that could potentially enable to Padme to continue the concealment of her pregnancy. Padme’s sleeves are an unembellished take on Boushh’s studded sleeves encasing her hands.
L: Replica WWI Nurse’s uniform. C: 1916-1918 Women’s Motor Corps of America uniform. R: Thimister Spring 2010.
While following the narrative symmetry of echoing Leia’s future in Padme’s present costume, there was also space to introduce a fashion element and historical element. This is especially evident in the leather detailing of Padme’s costume, the crossed belts holding a particularly military influence: echoes of cape suspenders, which were commonly worn by British nurses during in WWI for security when working, and Sam Browne belts which were a key component of military uniforms from the mid-nineteenth century and were adopted into some women’s uniforms as a statement piece. Sam Brownes in particular have appeared several times in fashion iterations, both in the lead-up to WWII, and again in high fashion in the ‘70′s, ‘90′s and noughties. In this cases, its appearance was more often than not a statement of protest against war and militarisation, even whilst set against military cuts. This point of protestation, quiet rebellion would not have been out of character for Padme as she is set to fight for the democracy that is crumbling around her, but equally it is a statement of strength and defence as she goes to save her husband from himself.
Some things run in the family.
This is also a rare live action costume that was translated into TCW, in the season episode An Old Friend. The costume was altered slightly to include a darker suede overtunic, which is possibly to explain alterations made to Padme’s preexisting wardrobe as she began to show.
Drawing a direct line between Leia and Padme was a great opportunity to show character and explore both personal and wider stories through costume, and served to deepen the emotion of Padme’s actions in Revenge of the Sith through those future echoes. The differences in these two costumes show how radically the galaxy has changed, the changes in scales and tactics, the differences between the two women’s role. Padme’s mission to rescue Anakin failed because she was on the edge of dying hope, a galaxy falling apart, and because she was alone and isolated. Leia danced with disaster and hope was nearly lost, but she had already lost so much and had a team of friends to save her and save Han. Leia’s disguise was cobbled together (though i believe in the old EU stolen it was stolen from a preexisting bounty hunter), Padme’s was a product of fashion. Ultimately these two woman shared a determination, a hope, and a mission in the face of all odds. The connection between the two women gets lost so much both in fandom and in canon, so these moments of highlight are always notable. Like mother like daughter.