Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Costume Designer Michael Kaplan Discusses 'The Force Awakens' With Vanity Fair

By: Benjamin Hart

Apart from the incredible photos that were recently revealed, the latest issue of Vanity Fair featured an extensive interview with the creators behind Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Along with it VF has released a series of interviews available exclusively online. One such interview is a very revealing one with Episode VII's costume designer Michael Kaplan.

First off, he talked briefly about his earlier film career, which started with the 1982 classic Blade Runner:

"I learned a lot on Blade Runner, just my love of grit and texture and things being overly aged.... I learned from Ridley [Scott] how great it is to re-use things and make new things out of things that already exist in a way, where you’re kind of not even recognizing the object that you started with. I like digging around in thrift shops and I don’t know if that’s a signature but it’s something that I’ve done a lot in my work. Or maybe it’s just the films that I’ve been on that have required that."

The conversation quickly turned to Star Wars. Here are some highlights from that discussion:

"Did you actually re-use any old Star Wars costumes? Are there like racks and racks of old stormtrooper uniforms in some warehouse up at Lucas Ranch?
We didn’t use anything, but I went up to George Lucas’s archives—huge building—and just spent a day going through sketches and looking just to get the tone of the movie, you know, in my guts and veins so that when I went to London I felt equipped and inspired, which I certainly did.

But the old stormtroopers uniforms would not be usable. Audiences of today have become so sophisticated that a lot of things you could get away with in the past, you can’t anymore. So the new uniforms are much heavier. Also, the action in the film required them to not be “VacuFormed” [like the old uniforms] as those all broke and cracked. These new ones are much more heavy-duty, but they are redesigned, too, they’re not the same stormtroopers.

How did you tweak them?
Everything was a conversation with J.J., of course. He wanted to hold on to the uniqueness and not get too far away from the stormtroopers, keep that iconic look, but still have 30 years of difference. I mean, it would be a little odd to have the same stormtroopers this much later when Leia and Han are so much older.

What other old looks did you update?
I remembered when I saw the original movie I was a little bit confused by the warring factions, because the uniform colors kind of overlapped—both [the rebels and the Empire] had some khakis and olive, and I kind of thought, Now I’m in a position to do something about this. So I made two very, very clean-cut palettes. The Empire is in very cold blacks and grays and metallics and teal blues. The Rebels are in khakis and olives and some oranges—warmer colors. So there are very clear separations and you know who you’re looking at when you see them. Also, the lines of the costumes. The Rebels are kind of wools and natural fibers, cottons, and the Empire is very hard-lined, almost like Thierry Mugler. Very kind of edgy. The haircuts are these three-quarter parts, which were big in the 1930s, so that’s kind of recalling something from the past.

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."

Be sure to read the full interview on!

Source: Vanity Fair 

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


Post a Comment

This site is not endorsed by Lucasfilm Ltd. or Disney and is intended for entertainment and information purposes only. The official Star Wars site can be found at Star Wars, the Star Wars logo, all names and pictures of Star Wars characters, vehicles and any other Star Wars related items are registered trademarks and/or copyrights of Lucasfilm Ltd., or their respective trademark and copyright holders. All original content of this site, both graphical and textual, is the intellectual property of The Star Wars Underworld - unless otherwise indicated.
Site template © 2011 Supported by PsPrint Emeryville and