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

After having looked at the three most iconic designs of the first of the "Star Wars" prequels, I've decided to move onwards and start looking into the designs of Amidala’s wardrobe in the second installment of the prequels: “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones”.

The first of the designs that I will be breaking apart will be the “Travel” gown. 

She wears this dress during her journey back to Naboo, disguised as a young matron from the Thousand Moons system. It’s not one of the most remembered gowns, but it’s a very striking piece of design with very interesting influences.

The dress consists of a mustard-colored overdress which is a stiff upside-down cone that reaches from her shoulders to her ankles. It is decorated with purple paisley designs with olive green leaves, and a feathery purple design running down the front, back, and sides. The bottom hem is decorated with a simple diamond design. On her shoulders, she wears a kind of full-shouldered pauldron of the same mustard color with an abstract floral design. The loose sleeves are of a lighter material and are drawn at the wrist by a lower-arm band of the same design as the pauldrons. 

The main influence behind the design is pretty clear: it’s based on the Russian traditional gown. This poses a really big change in relation to the look and feel of the design, straying notably from the east-Asian influences of "The Phantom Menace" designs. And although they maintain some of the visuals of the first movie, this change of inspiration marks a pretty radical change in the look of the character.

This change in the look gives a sense of discontinuity between the two movies that is not always good for the overall story. But in the case of this specific design, this change is actually logical. In the movie, she is supposed to be dressed as a young woman from another system, so it is only logical that her look would be so different from the established Naboo look.

The main purpose of the dress is to disguise the former queen. Because of this, the dim color palette is more than fitting. The mustard-colored dress matched with the golden veil and the brown-green sleeves helps to maintain the desired low-key appearance. It’s not a gown that stands out in a crowd. It’s discreet and simple, but, because of the cut of the dress, conveys Amidala’s innate elegance and regal airs.

Because of this, the fabric used is very important in the design. It mixes two different types to create the effect of a simple but regal gown: on one hand, there is the fabric used in the overdress, the pauldron and the lower-arm band, which is a very heavy looking and rigid fabric in line with the image we have of regal gowns. On the other hand, there are the sleeves, the fabric that loops under her neck and the lace, which are very light and flowing, giving the design a more day to day feel to the dress.

As I've mentioned, the historical influence on the design is very clear. Both the shape and weight of the dress take its main inspiration from the traditional gown for noblewomen of the 16th-17th century Russia.

Both dresses date from
the mid 16th to 17th
century Russia

Both gowns share the same rigid and tube-like overdress that successfully disguises the feminine shape as well as the loose sleeves with the lower-arm band.

The main difference resides in the fact that the Russian overdress is, generally, more decorated and luxurious (they usually sew pearls and stones into elaborate brocades) whilst Amidala's is fairly simple. This simplicity is actually due to a narrative necessity more than a whim of the design. The need for the gown to be a disguise is the reason why they change the heavy brocade for the more delicate and discreet floral pattern.

For this very same reason, the design also swaps the highly decorated collar for a more simple full-shoulder pauldron.

The Grand Duchess Xenia
Alexandrovna dressed as
a 17th-century royal woman for
a ball at the Winter Palace.

Another remarkable aspect of the dress is the color itself. Through Episodes II and III most of Amidala’s wardrobe is dark blue, purple, dark red and black, with the exceptional white. All these are colors usually identified with royalty. This design strays from this and goes with a green-yellow palette. This is done to underline the fact that this is not an “official” gown. She wears this dress because she doesn’t want to be recognized. It’s also because of this that the gown takes the “shapelessness” from the traditional Russian gown. Most of her dresses are pretty revealing, stressing the feminine shape of the character. By hiding that shape under the conic overdress she becomes almost a different person.

This change in color, though, is not unique to this design. It's actually done a couple of times throughout both "The attack of the clones" and "Revenge of the Sith", and it's always associated with a less "official" situation.

Last but not least, let's have a look at the headdress.

The headpiece is made of a coppery metal with a tight skull cap with ridges running up into an intricate, fan-like crown. The Flower of Life emblem decorates the crest of the headpiece in a continuous pattern. Under this piece, there’s a length of mustard-colored fabric that loops under her face and wraps around her neck. This headdress is sometimes covered by a golden lace veil.

And so, this design not only hides her very distinctive body shape, but it also completely covers her hair. This is another big change because throughout the movies she always wears her hear visible and in hairstyles that tend to call attention to it.

The headdress without the laced veil

The influence behind the headdress doesn't stray too much from the main influence for the gown: it is clearly influenced by the Russian kokoshnik.

The kokoshnik is a traditional Russian headdress that has been used since the 16th century.

17th-century kokoshnik

As seen in this picture, the kokoshnik shares a similar constitution: a flowing fabric that looks around and under her face and a highly ornamented headpiece. This particular piece has no veil over it, but some of the later versions of this type of headdress do (as the versions shown in these 19th-century paintings).

The shape of the main headpiece is clearly also inspired by the shapes of this Russian headdress. The only difference is the material itself. For Amidala's design, they chose a metal feel to it. This accentuates the outlandish feel it wants to create.

This piece wraps up the look of this amazing design. The only problem with it is that, if anything, it doesn't look alien enough. It's a very elegant and very beautiful design, but it's too grounded in reality to feel otherworldly. Its influences are too specific and focussed in the Russian tradition. Unlike the dresses in "The phantom menace", that mixed a number of different influences, this one focusses only on one and ends up looking like a modern version of the Russian traditional gown instead.

To see full scale:

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


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