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

Love her or hate her, Padme and her costumes can never be far from our minds. They are too iconic, and probably one of the few memorable aspects of the prequels, so it's really fun to talk about them. And so, I've decided to continue what I started and focus on the costumes I left behind from Episode II. So let's dive back into it!

A BRIEF REMINDER

What are the Annexes? Well, the Annexes focus on all the costumes that were "left behind" in my selection of Padme Costumes for the A look into Star Wars: Padme's Dresses series. Here, I point out influences, likes, and dislikes, and anything that might feel relevant whilst digging into the gigantic wardrobe of this Galactic Queen. With this out of the way, let's go!

ANNEX B: THE ATTACK OF THE CLONES

Episode II: The Attack of the Clones brings the character and her designs to a completely different level; she is not a queen anymore, which unfortunately means that she no longer has amazingly weird and outlandish costumes. Instead, she is relegated to a mere love interest, which means that a lot of her outfits are designed for one single purpose: to make her look "sexy". Which is a shame, because it's just not as interesting. Still, let's look at all the costumes that I cast aside.

B1. The Flight Suit

This is the costume worn by Padmé on her way back to Coruscant at the very beginning of the movie. She wears this for a very brief scene, and quickly changes into her "senator-look". And there's my first reason to leave it out in the first place; it has such a brief appearance that you might miss it if you blinked.


Here, she has disguised herself as a Naboo pilot whilst her handmaiden, Cordé, plays her decoy. For this, she wears a tactical pilot suit, with tight red pants and a black undershirt with a high collar. A brown, long-sleeved shirt is worn over it with a vest and a utility belt with the gold Naboo Royal Space Fighter Corps emblem at its clasp. She wears simple tactical gloves and boots. Her hair is pulled back to keep it out of her face, done in several ponytails held in place by metal rings at various intervals.


It doesn't call attention to itself, being actually pretty bland, but I guess that was the idea; to pass unnoticed. Still, that was and is the main reason why it was ruled off from the main series: there isn't much to say about it.

The second reason, and also quite relevant, was that there weren't any interesting influences to talk about. So, in the end, it would make for a very boring article.

B2. A Ton Of Nightgowns

Precisely due to Padme's demotion to the love interest, we find a sickening proliferation of nightgowns in Episode II that will become even more ridiculous in Episode III. But not any kind of sleeping garments... the sexy kind.


During Episode II we find two of these. The first of them is the one she is wearing during the second assassination attempt (pictured left), which consists of a simple long-sleeved white, drawstring-necked nightdress.

The second makes its appearance once she is in Naboo with Anakin and she goes to talk to him to find out the source of his constant discomfort (pictured right). This consists of V-necked white silk, embroidered nightdress and a blue-smocked robe with gold trim along the sleeves.


In both these cases, I choose to leave them out of the main series because there was literally nothing to say about them. Nothing to talk about at all. They are boring and unremarkable, design-wise, and are only there because they needed a substitute for sexy lingerie, considering this was meant for a PG audience.

Nothing to see here. Next!

B3. The Lake Gown

This is the costume Padmé wears during one of her first walks with Anakin once they are already within the safety of her home planet. This is also one of the most memorable costumes of Episode II, although I'm not sure if it's because of the dress itself or the fact that it's what she's wearing during the 'I hate sand' infamous scene.


The gown is made of soft silk dyed in yellow and with a degradeé to lilac. The fabric is gathered up at the waist with clasps made of tassels and pearls. The fabric is draped over her arms, hemmed with a wide ribbon. The dress is held up by five-layered pieces of metal resembling shells, with the top one reaching partway around her neck, tied off with a piece of ribbon.

As for her hairstyle, she has it styled in a rather extravagant fashion (what a shocker!). It is pulled up to recreate the shape of a seashell and is held in place by a set of headbands inset by pearls.



The dress is a rather odd mix of high fantasy cliches with some ancient Greek influences thrown in there to add to the dramatic flair.


These remnants of Greek influence are slightly less noticeable for the gown, but you can see them in the breeziness of the material and the heavy use of pleating.


That's because, the design takes much more from classical fantasy designs, such as the one for Princess Ozma from the Oz Series by Frank L. Baum.


In the end, though the result is an eye-catching design, it feels too pandering. The only reason this design exists as it is it to make her look sexy, which she does, but it makes no sense: at this point in the story, she is actively trying to convince Anakin that having a relationship is not a good idea. Would you ever wear a dress like this to dissuade somebody from having a relationship with you?

So that is basically why I left it out of the main series. It is a pretty dress with semi-interesting influences, but it is just so incredibly stupid when it comes to the narrative sense. And that pisses me off way more than it should.

B4. The Smouldering Corset Gown

The other main offender of the 'costumes overtly designed only to be sexy' category is the now infamous Corset Gown that she wears for a dinner with Anakin where she intends to dissuade him from pursuing her affections. Not a very logical choice then, to dress her in what is basically a costume that screams of sex.


This gown consists of a black, metallic printed skirt with a black leather corset and accessorized with a long, draped and beaded necklace that ends at her knees and long, black leather, fingerless gloves. She also wears a black feathery shawl on top of it for some scenes.

Her hair is styled in a twisted braid with a metallic headband.

This outfit is clearly and unabashedly inspired by 1930's figure-hugging party dresses. It is particularly reminiscent of the now-iconic black dress worn by Rita Hayworth in Gilda, down to the long black gloves and the strapless look.


This makes the dress feel incredibly modern and incredibly normal. This is something a supermodel would wear. This gown doesn't feel like it belongs in a galaxy far, far away, and this makes it tremendously jarring.

This, more than probably, has a lot to do with the fact that the only directive for this gown was to make Natalie Portman sexy and nothing else. But, in turn, this creates a pretty big contradiction with the narrative of the scene itself.

By wearing this at that particular scene, the character ends up coming off as a really stupid person or a really mean one. You don't wear that if you want a person to stop being interested in you. Just no.

All in all, the gown was discarded for an intense combination of things: there is not much to talk about in regards to influences (I basically just reviewed them in hardly a paragraph), the gown makes no narrative sense, which bugs the life out of me, and, most importantly, I totally and deeply loathe it.

Irrational? Maybe, but I could hardly dedicate a week of writing about something I can't even see without my eyes seeing red. Next!

B5. The Tatooine Poncho

This could very easily have fallen into the 'sexy nightgown' category, but, thankfully, it wasn't bland enough to fit there, even if it's pretty unremarkable. The Tatooine Poncho is what she wears when she confronts Anakin after he has murdered an entire village of aliens in revenge for his mother's death. If this design doesn't seem fitting for the situation is because it isn't, let's be honest.


The design consists of a blue, pleated under-dress with an off-the-shoulder blue poncho over it. Said poncho is decorated with a bright and colorful embroidery both on her sleeves and at the bottom of the garment. Ribbons decorated with beads hung from the lower hem.

In this case, the designs main fault is sticking too close to its own influences, which are a wide array of South American cultures, particularly in the chosen coloration and fabric.


But, once again, sticking so close to this cultural reference creates a jarring effect that makes the outfit look too much like it belongs in our world and not in a Star Wars movie.

In the end, that was the main reason behind leaving this design out of the main series. That and the fact that there isn't much more to talk about influences-wise, which would make for a rather boring article.

B6. The Battle Outfit

This, for me, is the Padme costume that feels most like genuine Star Wars and yet the one that feels less like it belongs to this character. And that makes me loathe it (amongst other things).


The outfit consists of a simple white jumpsuit and a beige utility belt and boots with an off-white cape. Also, she sports a silver armband, which, according to some visual encyclopedia, signifies her political service. This is topped by an intricately looped bun which is aimed at keeping her hair out of the way.

The main problem for me, is the fact that the only reason this design exists, is to serve as a callback to Leia's iconic white outfit in Empire Strikes Back. That memorable design is the main (and probably only) influence for this, and it pretty much shows.


And I am aware that I get a lot of hate for hating on this outfit, but, honestly, how can I not hate a design that whilst being royally bored by this snoozefest of a movie, suddenly forces me to think of how much fun I would be having if I were watching Empire Strikes Back instead.

Also, that convenient tear in the outfit that ended up baring her midriff... The attempt at sexualizing her is so blatant and unabashed that it's almost sickening. And that's without even taking into account the flimsy narrative logic by which, when a gigantic cat attacks you, it only tears some clothing instead of tearing your whole guts out.


All in all, I left it out of the series because, influence-wise, there's barely anything to talk about, and because it infuriates me too much. And fury driven articles are not healthy for me.

B7.  The Homecoming Ensemble 

This design was in a scene that ended up being cut from the movie, which makes it, theoretically, not a 'canon' Padme outfit. Which, by my books, means I don't actually have to review it. Still, that wasn't the only reason behind the decision of leaving it out of the main series.
 

Originally meant to be worn during her arrival at her Naboo home, the outfit consists of two main pieces. The first is a turtleneck top of crimped light blue linen, which is decorated with silver trim, a decorative knot in the center and long sleeves. The second is a simple light blue skirt that is cut wide and it's clasped on her left side. 

To top it off, she covers it, sometimes, with a decorative white velvet cloak over the ensemble. This is clasped with a carved ivory medallion and decorated with blue floral motives. Her hair is styled in loose ringlets that are held back by a light blue headband decorated with a diamond pattern.

And, as far as design influences go, these are pretty clear. The crop top plus skirt combo is pretty straightforward lifted from the late '90s, early 2000's fashion and their midriff obsession. And there is also some 1970's Cher flair thrown in there as well.


As for the cloak, it is pretty obvious that they took inspiration from the 19th century Art Noveau for the patterns and decorations.


Finally, for the hair, they mainly did their own alien version of the classical Brigitte Bardot look that got repurposed and appropriated by fashionistas during the 2000's.


So, seeing as there is actually stuff to talk about here, why did it get left out of the main series? The straightforward answer is that it's way too similar (influence wise) to the Tatooine Outfit, which I did cover (read here) and so it would have made for a rather repetitive and not very interesting article.

Which is a good thing for me, because I can't stand this look. It feels too close to our world and not alien enough. Something that is a common thing for Padme's outfits in Episode II and it's really annoying.

CONCLUSION

In the end, the core reason behind all of these designs being cast out is that they are either repetitive or uninteresting or simply too nonsensical. And, occasionally, as I've made the effort to point out because I loathe it.

For me, many of these designs were only created with the direct instruction of "making her look sexy" instead of actually reinforcing a character personality or arc. Of course, that she doesn't have either a personality or an arc, but still, it upsets me, and that's why I avoided them like the plague.

And just as was the case with Episode I, there is so much talent thrown behind these designs by the fantastic Trisha Biggar that it is really upsetting to see them go to waste just because the direction is so muddled and poor.

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Join me next time with Annex C, where I'll be focusing on the discarded designs for Episode III, but, in the meantime, you can read the Annex A here.

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Comments

  1. Loved this! I definitely agree that it’s a tragedy they designed so much of Padme’s wardrobe with the sole goal to make her look sexy, especially considering that they do the opposite of apply to the situation. So glad I’m not the only one pissed off lol

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