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

Let’s continue with our thorough examination of the designs of Padme Amidala’s dresses. This second post in the series will be dedicated to the also terribly famous “senate” gown from “The Phantom Menace”. She wears this dress during her plea at the senate in Coruscant, and it has grown to become a terribly well known gown.

This gown has several layers to it. The base layer is a bright orange silk dress, with a high collar decorated with ornate gold stitchwork and beads. Over this, she wears a dark red overdress with orange hems decorated with gold brocade. This overdress has big sleeves and its embroider with rosettes. Above this, she wears a dark and thick faux fur cloak with shoulder pads that make her look twice her size.

Although what really made this dress iconic, is the headdress that accompanied it. Amidala's hair was dressed in a wide arc centered by a golden headpiece with golden hairbands to keep her hair's shape. This arc was decorated with dangling orichalc suspensas capped with golden ornaments. The medal of the Royal Sovereign of Naboo served as the centerpiece of this hairstyle.

It’s a very interesting design but, as for its influences, well, let’s say that they are very easy to pinpoint. Basically because it mainly takes its ideas from the traditional dresses of the Mongolian Royalty.

19th century picture of a Mongolian Princess

It is very clear that they took the idea of Amidala’s hairpiece from the traditional Mongolian hairpiece. They are very similar.

The texture of the clothing is very similar as well. It uses heavy fabrics, which are also warm. And even the cloak she wears has some resemblance to the cloak the Mongolian princess wears. Both have this huge shoulder pads, and look very heavy and regal.

During my research, I found this picture of the Mongolian Princess that is sent to marry the Emperor in Bertolucci’s “The Last emperor”. And, beside the obvious resemblance of the hair piece, it also uses the same dress structure: first a dress and then an over dress with embroidered hems. It also uses the deep red coloration, and adds some fur to the design.

But, on the other hand, the coloration and the richness of the gown is clearly from some other source. The Mongolian culture is traditionally poor and does not use such regal fabrics. That is probably taken from the Chinese royally. The deep reeds and golden embroideries were very used in China as we saw in the “Red Invasion” gown.

Chinese clothing (from a Zhang Ziyi movie)

I think they wanted to create a homogeneity, throughout color, to the gowns of the queen. Of course that all her dresses aren’t red. She has so many that it would be a bore if each an everyone of them was red. But the truth is that in the two most important public appearances of the character, she wears red, especially in Episode I. That was probably done, also, to accentuate the sense of regalness to the character.

But, as I said before, the most important element of the dress is the headpiece and hairstyle. It’s enormous and pretty odd looking. As I pointed out before, it is practically identical to those used in the Mongolian culture. The main difference between the two hairstyles is the volume. If you look closer, the arcs of the Mongolian traditional dress are actually flat. Instead, Padme’s arcs are round, like a huge head roll.

In this picture you can see, more or less, the back of the hairstyle. You can notice that it is completed with a ponytail or some sort of bun at the back of her head. I personally would have preferred if they had used all the hair for the head roll and had eliminated that pony tail. But I guess they wanted to have some correspondence with the “Red invasion” gown, and have the huge rolls at the front and keep some hair loose at the back.

Senate Gown makeup

Red invasion makeup
The final touch to the dress is the make up. And as we can see, she has the same exact makeup that she has with the other gowns. This is because here, she appears as the Queen, and as we established, this makeup is exclusive to the role of the Queen of Naboo.

This dress takes, mainly, from only one single influence. Still, they manage to create a gown that is very interesting and it certainly achieves what it wants.
I’ll be back soon with another of her dresses! Happy 2014!!

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


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