Skip to main content

A look into Star Wars: Padme's Dresses. Part I

I’ve decided to start this blog by dedicating the first posts to the designs of Padme Amidala’s dresses in the first three episodes of Star Wars. Although  I’m not particularly fond of these movies, I have to give some credit to their wardrobe design and the thought and creativity that went into it. 

I will look into the most iconic dresses of Padme Amidala and do a breakdown of the influences behind them. Each post will be dedicated to one of these dresses.

The first one of these series is the one I like to call the “Red Invasion” gown. It’s featured the first time we see Natalie Portman’s character in The Phantom Menace, and it’s probably one of the most iconic gowns she has.


This gown is made of embroidered silk and faux fur that lines the double collar, tabards, double sleeves and hem. The alien-like touch is given to the dress by the electric lights placed on the skirt, that are made to resemble ladybugs.

The headpiece that accompanies this dress is also pretty iconic in and on itself, be it due to its size or uniqueness, I cannot say.

Before I start with the historical/ cultural influences, I’d like to point out that this dress takes a lot from a dress from the 1944 movie: “Cobra woman” by Maria Montez.


As you can see, the structure of the dress is the same, and so is the color. Both are deep red with golden embroidery and a very prominent and large headpiece. It is very difficult to deny the resemblance. Could it be a coincidence? Yes. Is it that likely? No. Whether it was a conscious inspiration or not, it cannot be denied that the Amidala dress takes a hell of a lot from this 1944 movie.

Besides that obvious resemblance, this dress takes inspiration from other sources as well; mainly from the traditional clothing of some Asian cultures, such as China and Japan.

For starters: the coloration of this dress is clearly based on the more traditional dresses of the Chinese nobility. But the heaviness of the dress (it looks pretty consisted and layered), as well as the use of fur, is clearly taken from Tibet and Mongolia, rather than China. The main difference between the two is how thick the clothes are, What we understand as Chinese clothing generally consists in silks and very thin and flowing dresses (like those featured in Zhang Yimou’s movies). Tibetan and Mongolian clothes are thicker, made for a colder and less gentle environment.


And the shoulder piece of this dress actually reminds me a lot of this gown in "The Last Emperor". It's just a detail, but I thought it was worth mentioning.



The headdress is almost as important as the dress itself. Most Asian cultures, traditionally tend to go for huge hairstyles, heavily decorated and with huge volume. That is exactly what Amidala’s headdress is aiming for. And it certainly succeeds. The golden “hat” that surrounds the face and the hair sort of reminds me of the imperial Chinese hats, especially the top of it. 


On the other hand, the hair roll surrounding it is more Japanese than Chinese. The traditional Chinese hairstyles tend to put the hair flat on their heads and add huge headdresses on top of it. 


On the contrary, the traditional Japanese hairstyles (or the more known at least) base themselves on creating volume from the root of the hair by using hair rolls (very similar to the one she wears, although not quite so exaggerated).


Another traditional aspect of Japanese hairstyles, especially in royalty, is the creation of a long tail of hair descending down the back. This, as we can see, it’s also used in the design of Amidala’s hair. Although in her case it’s clearly more exaggerated since there are at least six strands of twisted hair falling down instead of one.


The final touch to the dress is the makeup. This is very recognizable in itself because she wears the same every time she appears as the Queen. That’s why we come to associate the role of Queen of Naboo with that makeup. And in the next movies, when she is no longer queen, we see that she stops using it. We also see the following Queens use it, so it is clearly marked that this makeup is unique to the Queen.

The design of it consists of white painted skin with only a touch of color: the red-painted lips and the two red dots on her cheeks.


This design actually takes a lot from the traditional geisha makeup. Although it avoids any kind of makeup in the eyes, which most geishas would use, and only paints the upper lip, leaving most of the other lip white.


This agglomeration of influences creates a very peculiar look for her character and establish a very strong culture behind it.

That is why it’s a real pity that a movie with such a good production design couldn’t be as good as every fan wanted it to be. In my opinion is an incredible waste of resources and creativity from the art department considering how bad these movies are.


To see at full scale:
https://www.pinterest.com/alba0531/a-look-into-star-wars-padmes-dresses/

To read A look into Star Wars: Padme's Dresses. Part II click here.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you enjoyed this article and would like to support the blog, 
consider buying me a Coffee? 💛💛

If you want more content like this, subscribe! Or come say hi on FacebookTumblrTwitterInstagram and help us grow!

DISCLAIMER: I claim no credit for images featured on this site unless noted. Visual content is copyrighted to its respective owners, and inclusion here is under fair use for criticism, comment, and news reporting purposes. If you own the rights to content here and wish it removed, please contact me.

Comments

  1. Here are 2 details you missed out on the makeup:

    1. The 2 dots are based on the traditional Korean bridal makeup "yeonji gonji" (연지곤지): usually one red dot on each cheek, sometimes a 3rd located on the center of the forehead, they are either composed of safflower makeup or small pieces of red paper circles, and they symbolize either the bride's youth and virginity, or a charm to chase away evil spirits and keep the wedding sacred.

    2. The "Scar of Remembrance" lip makeup of Naboo royalty was based on the Manchu women's lip makeup during the Qing Dynasty: the upper lip was fully painted, while the lower lip was only painted in the center.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Burning Question: What's wrong with Belle's gown?

Since the first promotional pictures of Disney's new Live-Action remake of Beauty and the Beast hit the internet, there has been a lot of discussion around Belle's iconic ball gown. And, even months after its release in cinemas, there still continues to be a lot of buzz around it. Why? Mainly, because a lot of people feel that it is just doesn't look that good. The thing is, Belle's animated yellow ball gown is, at this point, an iconic staple of animated cinema. Everybody knows it and everybody loves it. And, as a result, everybody can see the new one and say "this is not the costume I know". Therefore, everyone can compare it down to the smallest detail and see that it just doesn't quite look right. Today, my goal will be to try and dissect the design in order to answer the burning question everyone has been asking themselves: what's so wrong with the "new" dress? Or, to put it bluntly, why is it so incredibly underwhelming?

Disney's Cinderella(s) and the evolution of the "princess" aesthetics

Every girl, at some point in life, has wanted to be a princess. It has become undeniable that the concept of the "princess" is, for better or worst, inseparable from girlhood. We live in a "princesses" obsessed era, and we have for a long time now. And a lot has been said about it, with loud people yelling over the internet about the positive and negative aspects of it. So it was about time for me to join the yelling contest, I guess. If I'm going to talk about princesses, the logical place to go is to the Global Mogul Conglomerate that has led the trend and, in many ways, defined it: Disney. They have, undeniably, redefined the fairytale and have turned the term "princess" into a best selling Licensed Entertainment Character Merchandise. The thing is, even though princesses have been part of the fairy tale canon for a very long time, they didn't become the central figure until Walt Disney placed them there. In the tales that the G

Historic Accuracy in Costume Design: The 16th century

I've never been a purist with historical accuracy as long as the changes made have real reasoning behind (generally a narrative or symbolic one). I will always think that La reine Margot (1994) costume design is one of the most gorgeous and smart designs ever, even if said designs' main premise is to purposely bend the period in regards to costume. But there are certain things that bother me in regards to historical accuracy in costume which I realized when I found myself constantly irritated while watching The other Boleyn Girl (2008). This led me to post a question: when is it right to bend history? why is it interesting sometimes? whilst other times it's simply horrendous? To me, when these changes are made for the narrative's sake, I'm usually on board (like the 2012's "Anna Karenina" designs, which mixed the 1870's fashion with 1950's fashion in order to enhance the sense of theatricality and falsehood in Imperial Russia). But wh

Crimson Peak: Dressing Edith Cushing. The Butterfly

"Beautiful things are fragile" - Lucille Sharpe - Opposite Lucille stands our main character in the movie: Edith Cushing, a young and naive American with ambitions to become a writer. She meets and falls in love with a handsome and charming, but impoverished, English baronet: Sir Thomas Sharpe. They eventually marry and return to England, to the Sharpe's dilapidated mansion: Allerdale Hall. There they live with Thomas's sister: Lucille. The deadly apparitions that haunt the house will force Edith to slowly uncover the buried secrets of Crimson Peak. And so, Edith is to become a fragile butterfly caught in a moth's trap. PART II: THE BUTTERFLY Edith has considerably more frocks and gowns than Lucille does. It's only logical. Edith is our protagonist and, as such, has a bigger emotional arc throughout the movie, and she undergoes bigger changes. These are, in part, expressed through the costumes she wears and how these change throughout the mo

A look into Star Wars: Padme's Dresses. Annex B

Love her or hate her, Padme and her costumes can never be far from our minds. They are too iconic, and probably one of the few memorable aspects of the prequels, so it's really fun to talk about them. And so, I've decided to continue what I started and focus on the costumes I left behind from Episode II . So let's dive back into it! A BRIEF REMINDER What are the Annexes? Well, the Annexes focus on all the costumes that were "left behind" in my selection of Padme Costumes for the A look into Star Wars: Padme's Dresses series. Here, I point out influences, likes, and dislikes, and anything that might feel relevant whilst digging into the gigantic wardrobe of this Galactic Queen. With this out of the way, let's go! ANNEX B: THE ATTACK OF THE CLONES Episode II: The Attack of the Clones brings the character and her designs to a completely different level; she is not a queen anymore, which unfortunately means that she no longer has amazingly weird an

Crimson Peak: Dressing Lady Lucille Sharpe. The Moth

"At home, we have only black moths. Formidable creatures, to be sure, but they lack beauty. They thrive on the dark and the cold." - Lucille Sharpe - CRIMSON PEAK is Guillermo del Toro's new film. Released this past October, the movie is written by del Toro himself and Mathew Robbins (who has also collaborated with the likes of Spielberg and Lucas throughout his career). The movie aims to be a gothic romance movie through and through, and it stars Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain. The story goes as follows: Edith Cushing, a young budding American author, meets and falls in love with a handsome and charming but impoverished English baronet: Sir Thomas Sharpe. They eventually marry and return to England, to the Sharpe's dilapidated mansion: Allerdale Hall. There they live with Thomas's sister: Lucille. The deadly apparitions that haunt the house will force Edith to slowly uncover the buried secrets of Crimson Peak. In the movie

Moulin Rouge and the art of Kitsch

The spring of 2001 saw the release of Moulin Rouge! unexpectedly shake the movie industry and the box office simultaneously. Despite the many awards, including 8 nominations at the Academy Awards, and the impressive box office numbers, the movie quickly became very polarizing for audiences. Love and hate seemed to be the only two possible reactions to the movie itself. But that should not come as a surprise. The film was directed by Baz Luhrman, who has consistently been, throughout his career, one of the most polarizing filmmakers of his generation. I still have to meet anyone who simply doesn't mind his movies (which include Romeo+Juliet , Australia and The Great Gatsby ); it's either absolute love or absolute loathing. There is no middle ground with him. And that's mainly because he himself doesn't compromise when it comes to his style, which is so characteristic at this point (fast and frantic editing, vivid use of flashy colors and sparkle and stories a

Marie Antoinette: Working with an historical basis

A couple of months ago, I talked extensively about the narrative aspect of the designs for 2006's  Marie Antoinette (see here ). But that's only one half of the story. This movie is, after all, a period piece, so let's have a look at how they translated that period into the costumes. MARIE ANTOINETTE : WORKING WITH AN HISTORICAL BASIS Period accurate pieces are actually the hardest to get by; that is because clothing in past centuries was way more complex and expensive than our 21st century standards. Because of this, most costume designers end up being constricted by their allotted budgets and have to make compromises with accuracy. This was not the case with this movie. Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette had a rather large budget, which allowed renowned designer Milena Canonero the freedom to create period-accurate pieces (the inaccuracies were only added for narrative purposes, not budget constrictions). Because of this, Canonero decided to work off

The Costume Vault Anniversary!

Good day, beautiful readers!! First of all, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! Today is a very special day for me, here at The Costume Vault . It's our anniversary!!! We're celebrating our third anniversary! Though to be honest, I didn't actually start this project seriously until last year... So, I'm a three-year-old, with the experience of a one-year-old...? Oh, who cares. Today, three years ago, I published our first article ever. So, today is a day of celebration. This project started out of a deep love for movies and costuming and a need to share that. And also boredom... I had quite the free time back then, to be honest. But the project took off, and now I continue even when I don't have as much free time. But it's worth it because I get to share my love for movies and costuming with you. To this day, I've written sixty articles, most of which I am quite proud of indeed. And what's even better, you seem to enjoy reading

The Dressmaker. Part I: A glamorous outsider

2015's The Dressmaker is the wet dream of any costume lover in all of its 120 minutes of runtime. The Aussie film directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse is the adaptation of the Rosalie Ham's homonymous novel. After quite an impressive run in the Festival Circuit (it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival) and garnishing numerous nominations and wins worldwide, it finally got a theatrical release, becoming a box office success and the 11th highest-grossing film of all time in its home country. So there certainly was a lot of hype around it when I finally got to see it and had a lot of expectations to live up to. ABOUT THE MOVIE So, is the movie actually that good? ... Sort of? Well, it's complicated. That's my official review tagline: it's complicated . The thing is; the movie has a ton of problems of all sorts. A lot of it doesn't work, but what does work, works really well. Let's start with the negatives. First of all, the movie is a t