Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Star Wars & the Power of Costume at the Denver Art Museum


All of my favorite things in one outing, The Denver Art Museum, Star Wars, and gorgeous costumes. Of course it was really special to see the actual Jedi robes, and a real original storm trooper suit of "armor", and even Leia's famous golden bikini, but lets get real-- Padme has the best (and the most) costumes of any Star Wars character. As a huge Star Wars fan I was already on cloud nine just to be in the same room with such iconic costumes and props, but to see the craftsmanship and amazing fabric manipulation techniques used for the Naboo queen's and Padme's costumes up close was incredibly inspirational.

Sparkling antique Victorian jet beaded appliques used on galactic queen's gowns, Fortuny-esk pleated dresses for the handmaidens, historical silhouettes with Mongolian headdresses, the costumes of Padme Amidala are one of the few redeeming qualities of the oft ridiculed Star Wars prequels. I happen to like a lot about Episodes I-III, mostly the design, both costume and production design. (I also love Ewan McGregor...) The Denver Art Museum's new exhibition Star Wars and the Power of Costume showcases over 70 original costumes from the 7 films in the Star Wars saga. I won't lie, I nearly got teary turning a corner to see Rey's costume from The Force Awakens, a lead female character I was just so happy to have introduced into one of my favorite series, but I kept it together!

The exhibition was very well laid out, and explained the work and process that costumers go through to design characters overall look and their costumes for film. Art museum's get a lot of push-back from the "art" community when they do "commercial" exhibitions like film costumes or 20th century fashion designers, which I think is so stupid. Of course what film (and theater) costume designers do is art. Of course what fashion designers do is art. To claim otherwise, to say that costumes and fashion don't belong in an art museum, is ludicrous! I feel like the Denver Art Museum's focus on the process of the costume designer at work in this exhibition serves to try and prove that what they do is art, but though interesting for those unfamiliar with costume production for film, it is actually an unnecessary justification. You could have any of Padme's gowns alone in a gallery with no accompanying information and no one could argue that the piece before them wasn't pure artistry. I suppose there is no way to deny that pop culture zeitgeisty exhibitions like film costumes drive people into the museum, selling tickets certainly, but isn't it a good thing if people who wouldn't normally go to the art museum come and get to experience the space? Isn't it wonderful if their daughter drags them to see the photography while they are there? Or they might figure out they really love modern sculpture when they get lost looking for the elevators? More visitors due to a "commercial" exhibition will help create much needed revenue for a museum sure, but they also create new art lovers, and what could be better than that?

Anyways, I'll get off my museum studies soap-box, and get onto the many photos I took during my visit! I highly recommend you visit the exhibition in person if you are able to, nothing beats being their and examining everything in person!

It was amazing to see original story boards for the films! They were so detailed too!


























I know I'll be going back to the exhibition again with a sketchbook in hand to better jot down details and ideas. I'd love to make some more Star Wars/Blade Runner inspired vintage/science fiction fusion dresses and ensembles someday, and this exhibition seems a great opportunity to be steeped in inspiration.

I hope my Denver or Colorado based readers will visit the exhibition, and if you do, make sure to check out the late 20th century Japanese fashion on display in the textile galleries while you are there! What are some of your favorite films for costume design? Are there any other Star Wars costume lovers out there who want me to get a detail shot of something specific for them? ;)


8 comments:

  1. Yes, the costume design in those films was amazing. (One of Padme's scenes was shot in my favourite city, Seville, at one of my favourite places there, the Plaza de Espana. I got my husband to go to see the film with me solely by telling him they'd used it as a location!) Such a shame the script/plot wasn't of the same standard... not that it'll stop me seeing any other SW films.

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    1. I think its crazy how great some of the casting was and then how horribly bad some of the casting was! How you fail so much?! Great costumes though ;)

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  2. How can people say this is not art??? Look at those drawings!

    I actually don't mind Episodes 1-3 at all which is a good job really as Himself is a big time Star Wars Fan so I have seen them just once or twice over the years!

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    1. The storyboards were so detailed! I can only imagine the first run through is sketchier and then they refine them as they keep working on everything.

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  3. Oh my goodness, I am so jealous! The whole Star Wars saga has such a special place in my heart, I wish I could go see this in person! If you don't mind, if you go back, would you try to get some more detail shots of the Lake Dress? I've been wanting to cosplay that one for years!

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    1. I am a super Star Wars fan too, I have many many Star Wars t-shirts for my work wardrobe (I work in a sewing room/factory so I have to dress quite casually for work). I can certainly try and get more lake dress photos when I go back :)

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  4. Looks like a fantastic exhibition. I love to see film costumes close too. So much amazing work. I like the hooded outfit with the purple sash in the second to last photo. Looks like there is opportunity with that one for a 1940's/sci fi outfit.

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    1. It was! I love Blade Runner for just that combination-- 40's film noir with futuristic sci fi!

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