Movie News & Reviews

Take a look at costumes used in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

Captain Phasma’s costume for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is a reminder of the one worn by Darth Vader.
Captain Phasma’s costume for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is a reminder of the one worn by Darth Vader. rbentley@fresnobee.com

Try to think about Princess Leia and not flash to that skimpy costume she wore when she was a slave of Jabba the Hutt. Or about Han Solo without that trademark black vest.

Costuming is not often the most talked-about part of a movie, but it can be as critical as any part of the production. In the case of “Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens,” the task of dressing the cast fell to Michael Kaplan.

The Philadelphia native has been working in films since 1981. You’ve seen his costume designs in “Blade Runner,” “Flashdance” and “Pearl Harbor.”

This is the first time Kaplan has worked with “Force” director J.J. Abrams since “Star Trek.”

The teaser trailers have shown a small part of the costuming for the film. Some costume designs were more complicated to imagine than others.

“The most difficult one was Kylo Ren, and we went through I don’t know how many hundreds and probably thousands of iterations and different versions,” Abrams says. “One of the great things about that was, over the course of that, the costume for Captain Phasma was designed; that was actually pitched as a Kylo Ren costume originally.

“For story reasons it didn’t make sense and didn’t work, but we suddenly realized, oh my god, this is one of the greatest-looking costumes I’ve ever seen. And he – then she – became one of my favorite characters in the movie.”

What sold Abrams on the final Kylo Ren look was the mask. That’s when he knew Kaplan had created a winner.

At the media gathering earlier this month at Los Angeles Convention Center, numerous costumes used in the film were on display.

One member of the cast didn’t get one of Kaplan’s designs. Lupita Nyong’o’s character was entirely computer generated. Her costume was just a handful of dots.

“I was a motion-capture character, but to get suited up it took about – in the beginning it took like two and a half hours, maybe three. And then by the end we had it down to about an hour or an hour-15,” Nyong’o says.

Carrie Fisher, reprising her role as Leia, jokes that she liked that her costume looks like “a kind of classy gas station attendant.”

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1

Coming up

  • Wednesday: “Star Wars”-inspired cocktails in Food & Drink
  • Thursday: Rick Bentley’s review of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in advance of evening premiere plus an interview with director J.J. Abrams and a DIY on making “Star Wars” snowflakes
  • Friday: Guide to “The Force Awakens” in Seven and the scene at theaters
  • Sunday: Spoilers
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