An iconic film such as Star Wars had special requirements towards costume designs and costumer designer as well. Movie lovers are aware of every single little details of the previous films, and they look for something new and stick to the past at the same time.
Therefore the job for Michael Kaplan, costume designer of ‘Star Wars The Force Awakens’ movie was tough and inspiring at the same time. Kaplan worked together with the director J.J. Abrams on two rebooted Star Trek movies, Aramageddon, Se7en, Flashdance etc. In 1982 he had a great experience in designing costumes for ‘Blade Runner’:
I learned a lot on Blade Runner, just my love of grit and texture and things being overly aged. The reason I got the job on Blade Runner was they were meeting with a lot of people, and a lot of people, when they heard it was futuristic, were kind of bringing in, like, Mylar space-suit sketches and things like that, and I think I was the only one who read the script and felt that it should have an old Sam Spade, old gumshoe kind of feeling. When I said that, it kind of hit a note and I got the job.
– told Michael Kaplan in his interview for Vanity Fair.
However it worths to dig in thrift shops for objects, elements, parts of costumes – like old military equipments for Star Wars costumes – the time passed and certain stuff is already outdated and looks cheapy now. Therefore the costumes of the stormtroopers needed a re-design. The action in the film it required not to be “VacuFormed”, like the old uniforms, and they cracked and broke. The new stormtrooper uniforms are slightly changed (not too much, as we talk about iconic costume designs…), heavy-duty.
Costume design changes needed on the Rebels’ and Empire’s dresses as well. Kaplan made the differentiation even sharper than it used to be: previously Rebels wore khaki and olive colors – now orange, as a warm color is added to the palette. The lines and fabrics of the costumes support the positive and warm feelings: wool and natural fibers. The Empire got sharp lines, black, gray and metallic colors and teal blues. The shapes – even the haircut – refer to the 1930s, the Nazi era.
Tell me about designing for Leia and Han and Luke. They’re such iconic characters and they had such iconic looks. Do you reference what we’ve seen in the past, or not at all?
A lot of it had to do with what was right for the story and the action, but a lot of it was also, you know, people have a way of dressing. I wouldn’t really be doing my job if I thought, Hey, let’s redesign this character totally and put them in colors they’ve never worn. It just wouldn’t make any sense. But you also want new, interesting things to look at. You want enough change to be there. (Vanity Fair – How Apple Inspired The Stormtroopers of Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Let’s take a look at the scenes as Annie Leibovitz made photos of the shooting:
Source of the image: Star Wars gallery