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A look into Star Wars: Padme's dresses. Part VI

The next design that I'll look into from "Episode II: Attack of the Clones" is the one she wears out on the meadows of Naboo: the "picnic" costume.

She wears this dress during the picnic with Anakin in Naboo. Again, it's a brief scene, but it's an iconic look because it was used in many promotional pictures for the movie.

The dress is, basically, a light, summery dress intended to show her more romantic and free-spirited side. The skirt is a light and flowing yellow and it's decorated with tiny, white stitchwork flowers and olive-colored leaves. Her bodice is a golden shade of yellow, with brightly embroidered flowers, and leaves. The sleeves are tied at the lower arm with brightly colored ribbons. Over this, she wears a light cape embroidered with flowers similar to those on the corset. The edges are done in bright yellow and green. The dress is ribbon strapped, with single flowers capping off each one.

As the previous dresses I've looked at, this design keeps its focus on western influences, abandoning completely the Asian influences of Episode I. In this case, though, it's influences aren't necessarily historical. Most of its influences come from European pictorial art.

This makes it easier for these influences to blend without being crystal clear where they are pulling from and gives the design a very unique look compared to all her other designs.

The most obvious influence is, perhaps, found in the paintings of the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt (early 20th century), both in the coloration of the dress and the shape itself.

"The Kiss", Gustav Klimt (1907-08)
"Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer", Gustav Klimt (1907)

Klimt is pretty well known for his use of gold and bright colors in his paintings, as well as his integrations of nature within his art. The choice of color for this design is obviously taking a lot from Klimt's paintings, both in the use of gold and the choice of colors for the embroidered cloth and the ribbons.

"Bildnis Margaret Stonborough
Wittgenstein", Gustav Klimt (1905)

Though color-wise it's very different, the shape and type of cloth of the dress depicted in this painting are very reminiscent of Padme's picnic gown. From the low cut neckline to the pleated, flowing skirt and down to the use of chiffon for the dress. The main difference (aside, from the color) is the corset. Padme is wearing a corset, whilst the dress in the painting has the midsection wrapped around in more chiffon. This idea is modified in Padme's design and turned into the several ribbons that tape her lower arm.

But Klimt isn't the only pictorial influence on the design. It also takes many elements from the late 19th century romantic paintings from the artists known as Pre-Raphaelites. The paintings that conform to the movement portray a romanticized vision of the past, especially focussing on the medieval period and the realm of legends and fairy tales. It's from their paintings that comes some of the false preconceptions regarding medieval fashion.

"Mariana in the South"
(1897, John William Waterhouse)
(1903, John William Waterhouse)
 "At the First Touch of Winter,
Summer Fades Away"
(1897, Valentine Cameron Prinsep)

These painters had a tendency to portray women dressed in flowing chiffon dresses that gave them an air of delicate flowers. It's this feeling, that the designer is trying to imprint of Padme's costume. This helps accentuate the romantic feel of the design and make her look delicate.

As seen in the picture above, the design is clearly trying to recreate the texture and consistency of these types of dresses.

"Queen Guinevere's Maying",  John Maler Collier (1900)

Another important element of the dress is the corset, which is what holds together the dress. Its shape and general design do not fit with any historical corset. Instead, it has much more in common with the corset pictured in the iconic painting by John Maler Collier.

This design is topped off by one of the most gorgeous hairstyles Padme wears in any of the three movies. Funny enough, this is also one of the few looks she gets where both the headdress and the dress receive the same attention. Usually, the headdresses are the thing that is most remembered about her look, but with this design, people remember equally both.

She wears her hair down except for two buns on the side of her head, which are decorated with a yellow hair net. The rest of her hair is tied loosely behind her with brightly colored ribbons similar to those on her sleeves. The hairstyle is finished off with a green headband decorated with stitched-on flowers.

This hairstyle pulls from very different and distant influences: from the medieval crispinette fashion to Renaissance hair to the original drawings of Ozma for the book "The Marvelous land of Oz" (L. Frank Baum, 1904).

I'll start by the most obvious: the medieval crispinette. The crispinette was a type of headdress used during the late 13th century and most of the 14th century. There are many different versions (being such an extended fashion in time, it suffered a lot of modifications), but the most well-known is the simple two-bun structure over the ears. To maintain those buns in place, they used hairnets and with time, hair cages (where you couldn't even see the hair beneath).

14th-century bust 
"Braveheart" (1995)

As you can see, the influence is very clear on this one. In Padme's design, they chose to use a golden hair net to keep the buns in place, which helps to focus the attention of the hairstyle on them. But there's more to it. With the medieval crispinette there was never any loose hair strand, it was all bundled under the net. This is not the case with Padme's hairstyle. She has a lot of hair which is only loosely kept together by a few ribbons so it cascades onto her shoulders. It is here where we see the Renaissance influence.

Detail from "The birth of Venus" by Sandro Botticelli (c.1486)

Most of the Italian Renaissance hairstyles (especially in pictorial representations) consist of loose wavy hair, either loosely braided or merely held together by ribbons.

"Venus and Mars" by Sandro Botticelli (1483)

So, while the side buns are clearly a medieval influence, the overall look of the hair comes from Renaissance paintings.

Still, there might be another influence thrown into the mix: the design of the character "Ozma" from the Oz series by L. Frank Baum. She's always portrayed in a very similar manner: two red flowers on each side of her head, a golden headband across her forehead and wavy, lush hair cascading down her shoulders.

Original illustration from
L. Frank Baum's works
Original illustration from
L. Frank Baum's works

Padme's design is undoubtedly reminiscent of her look with both the headband and lush hair.

Again, a clean face finishes off her look for this specific design. This is a very lush and romantic look for the character, maybe a tad too romantic. The design takes from certain art forms that are already romanticizing history. So, what it's really doing is romanticizing an already romanticized version of history, therefore it doesn't quite fit in with the already established look for the character which is, generally very grounded on historical influences, feeling real. This dress doesn't look real, it looks like it's out of a dream. And I know that she's supposed to look like a dream for Anakin, but it might have been a tad too much what they did.

To see full scale:

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


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