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HomeAwardsAward Contender-Tricia Biggar, Costumes, Sith

Award Contender-Tricia Biggar, Costumes, Sith

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The costumes of the original Star Wars trilogy had a stark sensibility—human characters wore black, white, or earth tones, and even the aliens and robots were limited in their color schemes. But in the recent trilogy, audiences are treated to opulent tableaux of setting and character. According to Trisha Biggar, costume designer on the new trilogy, George Lucas “talked about how on the early films he wanted to have almost a monochromatic look and keep the costumes very simple. The war had been going on for more than 20 years, the galaxy was in turmoil. But in the films I worked on, starting with Phantom Menace, we were seeing the galaxy in its heyday when people still had time for fashion.”Biggar, who got her start with Lucas on the Young Indiana Jones television series, points out that the creative dimensions of the new trilogy allowed her to use the full array of her wide knowledge of history, art and fashion. “George never thinks of Star Wars as science fiction—he sees it almost like a historical film, the galaxy far, far away in the past. So the scope for something like Star Wars is incredible—for the costumes I literally drew from almost all art periods and global cultures, from Mongolia to Africa; to Russian folk art and European fashion.”As Biggar points out, Lucas’ vision of the various cultures of Star Wars emphasized their having developed similarly to the cultures on Earth, yet over thousands of years. Hence each separate planet has its own ecosystem, art, architecture, symbols—and fashion. Various Earth cultures could be mixed to create something visually new, but an audience would subliminally recognize aspects of each Star Wars culture. “I worked very closely with the other department heads because for each culture we developed a complete picture. We did a color palette; and we knew what sort of furnishings they had in their homes—we developed a whole look for them. For instance with Naboo, which is Padme/Amidala’s home planet, there was a sort of pre-Raphaelite style, and those things were also used by the art departments.”One of the most interesting characters in the new trilogy is Queen Amidala/Padme, whose costumes almost have a character arc of their own. “Her story changed so much over the three episodes. Episode I showed her as a regal ceremonial queen who was reserved and slightly isolated. In Episode II she was no longer the queen, and in the personal side of her life there was a mood of romance and passion. So pastel colors were used, and more flirtatious fashion. And then in Episode III, because it was a more serious time, her costumes had somber colors and less ornamentation. This reflects her secret pregnancy and her marriage with Anakin being concealed. But when she was out doing senatorial duties her costumes were still quite formal, yet slightly softer than they had been in Episode II. At home they were much more revealing and then again softer and more flowing using more delicate fabrics.”Biggar’s work on Star Wars costumes ran the gamut from making up to 20 costumes for Obi-Wan Kenobi for different purposes such as stunts and water work, to creating costumes for digital characters that were later reproduced in CG. Most recently she has detailed the entire scope of Star Wars fashion in her book Dressing a Galaxy, the Costumes of Star Wars, which shows how her work relates to the earlier films. “She’s fabulous,” says George Lucas, of Biggar. “When you find somebody that’s magic, who you connect with and who you collaborate with and who gets it, then you hang on to that person.”

Written by Henry Turner

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