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Star Wars The Force Awakens: The Scavenger

I cannot even begin to describe how much I liked The Force Awakens. I though it was well written, well directed, and very well acted; the younger actors really surprised me (Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Adam Driver are really good as their respective characters) and the original cast did a really good job with Han, Leia and Luke.

All in all, what made me love this movie (really love it) were the characters themselves. These are great characters. And what is a great character without a great design?


The costumes for the movie were designed by Michael Kaplan, an American designer, also known for his work in movies such as: Blade Runner (1982), Seven (1995), Fight Club (1999), Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013).

And the best aspect of his designs, for me, is the coherence with the Star Wars original trilogy (1977-1983). They really feel like they belong in the same universe and feel real and organic in the larger picture (something the prequels never really achieved).

But instead of doing a general assessment of the costumes, I'm going to analyze them separately, starting a new Star Wars series for this blog (do not worry, I will finish the Padme series as well). And we will start with my favorite character of the movie: Rey.

REY: THE SCAVENGER

Without entering into spoiler territory (which I will avoid as much as possible), Rey is a Scavenger in the junkyard planet of Jakku and she makes a living out of finding old pieces of ships and selling them in exchange for food.


The costume consists of a cotton light brown jersey, a half-length trousers and wool and leather boots. On top of these, she wears a long scarf draped over her torso that is tied around with a leather belt. The look is finished by the cotton cloth wrapped around her arms.

This is her main costume throughout the whole the movie (which makes sense because she's constantly on the run) and the first thing you notice is how practical it seems.

Here you have a character who is really poor and has a very physical job, so it really makes sense that her design would be first and foremost practical; it allows her to run, and move completely free.


This that sounds so incredibly logical is very uncommon in movies. Most female characters are primarily dressed to look good and feminine, not comfortable. Especially in fantasy media, most female characters are always designed to show a lot of flesh, without taking into account how unpractical and unsafe it is.

Credit where it's due: image taken from here
And so, the costume is, basically, utilitarian. The arm wrappers are there to avoid scratches and such accidents when scavenging, the half-length trousers also are so to avoid accidents (much the same way that bikers tie the ends of their trousers when riding).

This is a major change (and a welcome one at that) in regards to the design choices of the 2000's prequels, and to many fantasy-adventure movies.


The design also includes a scarf wrapped around her head that she uses to cover her hair and her face when she's out in the desert. She also has a protective goggles to keep the sand out of her eyes.


This is very clever. Anyone out in the desert would definitely need one of this to survive out there.

Her hair design is also very nice (and I'm sure it will become iconic) and it follows the same rule as the rest of her design: be practical.

Here you can see my take on the hairstyle

This is the only picture I've found where you can actually see it. It's a three-bun hairstyle that keeps all of her hair out of the way. Which really makes sense when thinking about what her job is.

The fact that her hair is out of her face is something that I really like seeing, especially in a world where most female characters have to look pretty and therefore always wear their hair loose.


I also like the fact that it has the same feel that Leia's styles had in the original trilogy; alien, but never too alien, like you could actually wear it in public (which is true for all of Leia's hairstyles except the New Hope buns).

The main directive for the design is that it be practical, utilitarian; and it is. So it really achieves what it wants.

Also, it's sort of based on the type of clothes worn in desert cultures. But, unlike Amidala's designs, I thing this design was much more inspired by the costumes in the original trilogy than it is in any real historical fashion or culture.


To me, Luke's costume in A New Hope is a big starting point for Rey's design, and it gives this look a sense of continuity and coherence with the previous movies. This is actually very welcome, because it makes the movie feel like it's really in the same universe than the original movies.

This continuity is also a thematic threat in the movie, so it's great to see it there, in the costumes also.


This is, all in all, a very clever design that knows clearly what it needs to be and it really takes into account the character that is going to wear it (what does she work in, who is she, does she care about looks? and all those pesky questions a designer should make himself).

All these help define Rey in a very visual way and definitely help make her one of my favorite characters to date in the Star Wars universe.

Comments

  1. Even though I hate Rey, her costume looked very great and different.

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