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

As I explained in my last Padme-related article, most of her designs in Revenge of the Sith are actually very similar. That was the basic problem when it came to deciding what was going to be the next costume I reviewed. In the end, I opted for the "Delegation gown" because it was the one that offered me the best chance of not repeating myself.


This costume was designed for a scene that ended up being cut from the movie (a Delegation meeting in her apartment) and was later repurposed for the scene when Obi-Wan goes to tell her that Anakin has turned to the dark side. This results in the dress being very little on-screen, but that's nothing new to her character.

This outfit consists of a long, green, velvet gown, conical in shape, which helps disguise her pregnancy. The gown has a V-neck that's accented with a jeweled pendant with dangling beads. It also has long, loose sleeves. The whole gown is decorated with intricate motifs. The gown also has a hood, which she wore up in the deleted scene, but did not wear in the scene that ended up being in the movie. The design is finished off with a wide purple sash tied around her under-bust line, which adds a nice touch of color to the final look.


When I started working on this article, it was very hard for me to pinpoint the influences for the dress. Mostly because the hood made the whole gown look like a cloak, not a dress, which made it harder to break apart. But then it hit me: they were still taking its main inspiration from western fashion. But instead of looking at late 18th to 19th-century fashion, they turned to the 1500s for inspiration.

More specifically, they are taking inspiration from the "houppelande". This was a very popular type of dress throughout Norther Europe between the early 15th century and the 1450s. It was a very sumptuous type of dress, very weighty and was characteristic for having a very large train, a very full skirt, lavishly long sleeves and a turn-back collar.

Lady wearing a "Houppelande", from an early 15th-century prayer book

As you can see, the basic structure of Padme's gown is clearly reminiscent of the houppelande: the long, dangling sleeves, the high waistline accentuated by a sash, the full skirt, the general weightiness, etc.


The choice of this dress as a main influence is very logical; the high waist is the best way to hide a pregnancy, but, if added a full skirt, it's the perfect disguise.

Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife
by Jan Van Eyck (1434)

Much has been discussed around this painting on whether or not the lady portrayed (who is wearing a houppelande) was pregnant or it's the effect of the skirt. So yes, this is a good dress with which to hide a pregnancy.

But this design doesn't only take from the houppelande, it also takes certain elements from its successor: the Burgundian dress. This type of dress evolved from the houppelande and was very popular throughout Northern Europe between 1450 and 1480. It consisted of a layered outfit: an A-line shaped gown worn over the top of a tight-fitting kirtle and chemise.

Wife of William Moreel
by Hans Memling (c. 1482)

So, whilst they took the fullness of the skirt and the long sleeves from the houppelande, they turned to the Burgundian dress for the V-shaped neckline.


The final element of the design is the hood; and I'm pretty sure that it was inspired by the traditional western depiction of the Virgin Mary (she will be, after all, the mother of the "savior"). When you take into consideration that Lucas is not known for his subtlety, then it becomes more than plausible.

top row left: Madonna dated around the late 13th century //
 top row right: painted by Giovanni Bellini (ca.1480) //
bottom row left: by Raphael (ca. 1503) //
bottom row right: by Bouguereau (1899)

Which, just as a side note, why design a gown with a hood if the character is only going to wear it indoors? Just another of the thousand indicatives that they basically designed her clothes to look good instead of following any kind of narrative or character-based idea.

For once, in this instance, the hair is not the most iconic part of the look. Here, her hair is styled very simply; she has her hair down and neatly curled. And for once, she is not sporting any sort of headdress (which happens more and more throughout this movie, because consistency does not exist in the prequels).


For this style, the main inspiration seems to be taken from the Italian Renaissance, when it became very fashionable for ladies to sport tightly curled hair (even though that it was only acceptable to wear it loose in paintings).

The conversion of the Magdalene by Bernardino Luini (1520).

But, volume-wise, her style is much more reminiscent of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's pre-Raphaelite paintings.

Helen of Troy (1863)
Astarte Syriaca (1877)

All in all, this is a very simple design that works for what it needs to be, but it's not really memorable. But, sadly, neither is her character in this last movie. The fact that Padme is wasted so much in this movie is such an incredibly sad fact. But, because she is relegated to this sad, weeping, pregnant saintlike figure, means that the designers have literally nothing else to work with; no character traits, no narrative ones.... only the idea that she hides her pregnancy. And there is only so much that you can do with that and still turn up interesting designs.

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Comments

  1. Maybe the hood was a fashion statement. You never know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe. That could be the case. But it's always funnier to look for reasons beyond "they liked it". Otherwise these articles would get really short xD
      And sorry for the delay in answering, I was on vacations for the first time in three years... and I sort of turn out any device that might carry work-related news...

      Delete

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