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The Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibit at Discovery Times Square | Melanie Votaw Photo
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Carrie Fisher's iconic Princess Leia bikini at the Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibit in New York | Melanie Votaw Photo
Carrie Fisher’s iconic Princess Leia bikini at the Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibit in New York | Melanie Votaw Photo

The Discovery Times Square exhibition center in New York currently houses an exhibit of costumes from all of the “Star Wars” films. I have seen several exhibits of film costumes, but never anything quite like this.

Carrie Fisher in the Princess Leia bikini
Carrie Fisher in the Princess Leia bikini

Imagine that you’re George Lucas, a visionary with all sorts of vivid pictures in your mind. You then have the ability to hire the best of the best designers and artisans to make your visions real. I can’t imagine anything more gratifying. You can see the craftsmanship in every inch of the costumes, which were made with the same care as haute couture creations.

Along with the costumes themselves, placards throughout the exhibit give you some fascinating background. For example, the designers used inspirational sources from Erté to Elizabethan England to African tribes to ancient Egypt to Japan to Imperial China and more.

Lucas instructed his designers to model the bad guys after the Nazis, so you will see elements of Nazi uniforms in some of the costuming. Luke Skywalker’s orange jumpsuit, which he wore for the attack on the Death Star, was borrowed from early aviators.

The Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibit in New York | Melanie Votaw Photo
The Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibit in New York | Melanie Votaw Photo
The exhibit includes a mirrored room with stormtroopers that's a lot of fun to walk through | Melanie Votaw Photo
The exhibit includes a mirrored room with stormtroopers that’s a lot of fun to walk through | Melanie Votaw Photo

The Jedi costumes were made of mostly earth tones and had a monk-like appearance, which showed their purity and desire to live simple lives. For example, Lucas wanted Obi-Wan Kenobi to look like part monk and part Samurai warrior.

The Sith, on the other hand, were clothed in mostly sleek, flowing black, but since the Sith began with a Jedi gone bad, there are elements in their costuming that hint back to their Jedi past.

For the Stormtroopers, Lucas requested “spooky white space armor,” and designer Ralph McQuarrie used his knowledge of medieval armor to create the look that we all know so well.

For the droids, such as R2-D2 and C-3PO, the designers used materials like fiberglass, vac-formed plastic, and aluminum. C-3PO’s look was inspired by a robot in the 1927 silent film, “Metropolis,” by Fritz Lang.

C-3PO, BB-8, and R2-D2 at the Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibit | Melanie Votaw Photo
C-3PO, BB-8, and R2-D2 at the Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibit | Melanie Votaw Photo

One exhibit placard discusses the difficulty in making the costumes look a certain way while also making them functional for a long day on the set. Polyester and silk were sometimes used to look as though they were wool, linen, or cotton, simply because they dry faster and don’t wrinkle as easily. For each costume, the designers would have to think about what the actors would be required to do physically. Could they do it in the costume?

The exhibit includes some interactive elements. Kids will have fun pressing buttons to make lightsabers turn on. (OK, I enjoyed that, too.) A few other exhibits include swatches of the fabric used in the costumes that you can touch. You’ll also see some of the weaponry behind glass.

Take a look at more photos below. These are just a few of the many costumes on display, and the images don’t do the costumes justice. While you’re allowed to take photos in the exhibit, you aren’t allowed to use flash. So, you just need to see these in person. If you’re in New York or plan to be soon, check it out. Discovery Times Square also has a Hunger Games exhibit at the moment.

The Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibit in New York | Melanie Votaw Photo
The Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibit in New York | Melanie Votaw Photo
Star Wars
Above is one of the exhibits that allows you to push a button to turn on one of the lightsabers | Melanie Votaw Photo
Star Wars
In the exhibit room with the Darth Vader costume, an audio of his breathing plays as you walk through | Melanie Votaw Photo
Star Wars
Chewbacca and Han Solo. Solo’s costume was made to look a bit like a cowboy | Melanie Votaw Photo
My favorite costumes were those worn by Natalie Portman in the prequels - from the gowns to the warrior costumes, you'll see influences from China, Japan, medieval England, and Erté | Melanie Votaw Photo
My favorite costumes were those worn by Natalie Portman in the prequels – from the gowns to the warrior costumes, you’ll see influences from China, Japan, medieval England, and Erté | Melanie Votaw Photo
Star Wars
This costume is clearly influenced by Japan | Melanie Votaw Photo
Star Wars
The headdress for this costume is made of abalone shell | Melanie Votaw Photo
Star Wars
Just look at the detail on this costume | Melanie Votaw Photo
Star Wars
This is one of Natalie Portman’s more feminine and more modern-looking costumes, influenced by Erté | Melanie Votaw Photo
Among my other favorites were the various Senate robes. This one is fringed | Melanie Votaw Photo
Among my other favorites were the various Senate robes | Melanie Votaw Photo
Star Wars
This Senate robe is fringed | Melanie Votaw Photo

 

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