Skip to main content

Star Wars The Force Awaken: The Fallen Pupil

The most challenging design for the movie was, undoubtedly, the design of the villain: Kylo Ren. Villains, in general, are hard in this type of movies, because they need to be threatening and iconic but not too over the top. It's really a fine and delicate balance. But in this case, it was even harder, because it had to live up to Darth Vader, arguably, the most iconic baddie ever.


All in all, I think they did a really good job in the design of the character. The biggest risk they had was making him look too much like Darth Vader and turning him into a cheap knock off. But, luckily, that wasn't the case.

KYLO REN: THE FALLEN PUPIL

Talking about his design without including spoilers is pretty difficult. Basically because the reasons behind the design are completely intertwined with his character and who he is. So..... SPOILERS AHEAD.

SPOILERS AHEAD
CONTINUE READING AT YOUR OWN RISK
------------------------



Kylo Ren is a Dark Side user working for the First Order. He used to be a pupil of Luke Skywalker, until he turned to the Dark Side and destroyed the Rebuilt Jedi Temple. He also happens to be Ben Solo, Han and Leia's son and Luke's nephew. And, of course, Darth Vader's grandchild.

He is very young, More a teenager than a full grown man.

Why is that so important? Because he is a wanna be. A fanboy. He adores his grandfather, even praying to him as if he were a God. That idea is clearly reflected in his costume.


The costume consists of dark, heavy, black robes held together by a metallic belt a ragged hood and a robotic mask. He is clearly trying to emulate the look of Vader. There's no discussion there.


The character is running away from his identity, claiming a new one centered around the dark side. That's why every single human aspect is completely covered: note how he doesn't even have his hands uncovered.

The purpose of the design created by Kylo Ren is as much to appear intimidating and inhuman as is to boost his confidence.

What sets him apart from Vader (both in character and in design) is his humanity. Darth Vader had been robotic for so long that he was barely human. Kylo only tries to appear his robotic (deep down he is fully human and pretty conflicted with his own humanity). This is shown through the materials used; textile elements are more prominent in Kylo's design that they ever were in Vader's suit. And the metallic elements are scarce, and only found in the elements he wears to create this new identity: the mask.


Vader was more machine than man. Kylo Ren is a child. And though not at first glance, the design manages to transmit that, especially when he has the mask off. It's on those occasions where the roughness of the costume manages to create a wonderful contrast with his fresh young face.

Another important element for the design is the structure of the costume itself, which doesn't resemble that of Vader's suit. Instead, it takes it's main form from the traditional Jedi robes. This simple element helps to create a visual link with his background and it underlines his connection to the New Jedi Order.


He never knew Darth Vader, but he knew Luke and the Jedi. He, himself, was trained as one. The so-called Knights of Ren are Ben's own interpretation of the Dark Side and what it should be. And so is the costume.


All those elements build up to a really well thought design that has a lot of chances of becoming iconic in and on itself. A lot of character related elements are worked into the suit, subtle but still there, which makes the costume unique.

Yes, it's reminiscent of Vader, but it's very distinct at the same time.


This movie was, all in all, a welcome return to the feel of the original trilogy and I cannot wait to see where they take these new characters (both story-wise and design-wise).

And so, with Kylo's design we bring to an end this brief series of articles about Episode VII. I hope that you've enjoyed it, and I promise that towards mid-January I will go back to writing long, fleshed-out articles.

Happy New Year!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, the size of Padme's wardrobe is leaning towards big. One might even say gigantic. Because of this, we are forced to choose which ones we review and which ones we don't. Otherwise, we would still be reviewing the costumes from Episode I. Thanks to this selection process, right now, in our Padme series' we are reviewing costumes already from Revenge of the Sith. But lately, we've been thinking a lot about those designs that got "lost in the selection", as we call them.
WHY WEREN'T THESE SELECTED? Generally, those that we did not select for our series were considered "not interesting enough". But what does that mean? Well, it means two things; either they pulled from the exact same influences as any of the dresses we had already addressed (which would make for a very repetitive article) or were considered too simple and basic to talk about them at length.
And then, of course, were those that we simply did …

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 suspens…

Creating the Seven Kingdoms. Part I: The North

As we promised a few weeks backs, we are going to cover more tv shows from now on, mainly because there is just too much awesomeness in our TV's these days to ignore it. And for the last 5 years, the crowning jewel of TV costume design has been, without a doubt, HBO's Game of Thrones. So it was only logical to start there.
The downside is that there is so much to talk about that it becomes really difficult to decide where to start exactly. G.R.R. Martin's sprawling epic covers many characters and many places, and therefore there's really a lot to pick up from. In the end, we decided that we would take a page out of the author's tactics and split it in several different series of articles to be published gradually. And so, this is going to be the first of many. And we probably should warn you, there will be spoilers ahead. CREATING THE SEVEN KINGDOMSGame of Thrones, from an adaptation standpoint, faced many of the same problems that Peter Jackson had to face when b…

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. 
We 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 head piece that accompanies this dress is also pretty iconic in and on it…

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

The last design from Episode II which we are going to be covering is the wedding gown, which happens to be the literal last outfit worn by the character in the movie.

She wears this dress in the final scene of Episode II, during her wedding with Anakin. It's a brief scene, but somehow people really remember this gown.
The design consists of an intricate gown made of lace and beads that goes with a lace veil. The gown is long and flowing, and has a small tail. The white fabric is decorated with an off-white delicate embroidery. The sleeves reach her elbows and are hemmed with scalloped lace. The entire gown is studded with pearls.

This gown takes from various historical sources, most of them pertaining to the early 20th century. The basic one with which it work are Edwardian fashion (1901-1911) and the 1920's.
The basic structure, with the gown and the laced overdress, is clearly taken from late Edwardian fashion.

These dresses (dated 1912) are quite similar to Padme's gow…