Exhibtions: Costumes

Special thanks are due to, alphabetically:

Sydney: Powerhouse Museum

The Magic of Myth exhibition made its final showing at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. These are some photographs of those displays, taken by C.J. Saxton in late December 2002 and January 2003. For the sake of unambiguous sequencing, the characters' costumes (below) are listed in order of their social rank: royalty, nobility, officers, enlisted, civilians.

Emperor Palpatine

Closeup of the clasp at the front of the hood on the Emperor's robe. The substance of this object resembles obsidian (like the Emperor's walking stick); the shape is indistinct and intriguing. What does it represent?

Another view of the clasp on the Emperor's robe: a more blurry view, but at a different angle and therefore potentially useful for stereoscopic mapping of the surface structure.

Middle and upper areas of Emperor Palpatine's robes worn during the Battle of Endor. What is the yellow feature appearing to the right of the hood clasp? The inner garments appear to be a smoother fabric than the outer cloak. [Jan 2003]

Middle and lower areas of Emperor Palpatine's robes. The cuffs of the outer cloak are long; they might almost drag on the ground and the Emperor walks. The Emperor's black, apparently obsidian cane is held at his right hand. [Jan 2003]

Queen Amidala

Queen Amidala's elaborate costume and headgear worn during her appeal to the Senate of the Galactic Republic during the invasion of Naboo. It is difficult to guess the function of any parts of the costume, except as decoration and to make her appear larger. What, for instance, are the cylinders hanging from her hairstyle and what adheres them in place?

A handmaiden costume is visible in the left background. [Jan 2003]

Details of the upper torso, headgear, hair style and tassels.

A frontal view of the entire costume with its bewildering layers of different textures and colours.

Lord Darth Vader

One of Lord Darth Vader's armoured suits, apparently in the style he wore during the fatal events over Endor. [ROTJ]

A frontal overview of Lord Vader's costume from the Battle of Endor. One of his lightsabres sits horizontally on a raised stand near his left hand. Is the apparent tint of his eyepieces due to reflected light, or does it show translucency? The blue button on his chestplate differs from the aqua colour in the earlier days around the Battle of Yavin. [ANH] [Jan 2003]

View of the right sides of Lord Vader's helmet faceplate and neck brace, from his unmasking during the Battle of Endor.

Front view of Lord Vader's mask and neck brace.

Front-right view of Lord Vader's mask and neck brace.

Front upper torso of Lord Vader's armour, apparently from ROTJ.

Closer view of the Lord Vader's armour upper torso, centred on the control box and chestplate.

Details of the chest-mounted control box for Lord Vader's cyborg systems. White text inscriptions are legible. See the separate commentary about the chestplate lettering.

Baron Lando Calrissian

An overview of the display of Lando Calrissian's costume as Baron of Cloud City, showing upper legs, torso and cape.

Closeup of the fine golden trim on the hems of Baron Calrissian's cape, and his very thick belt. The buckle is almost large enough to be mistaken for a codpiece, and bears a peculiar zig-zag emblem. It is not yet known whether this is a symbol of Cloud City, Calrissian personally, or something else. A reflection of a distant model of the Millennium Falcon is superimposed.

Another photo of Calrissian's baronial belt buckle, with clearer contrast but unfortunately low resolution. Three vertically aligned, diamond-shaped impressions on the buckle are visible to close inspection. [Jan 2003]

Admiral Ackbar

Full length frontal view of Admiral Ackbar in uniform from the Battle of Endor. His light brown bib is secured by a belt (obscured in this photo). Does the yellow stripe on the side of the uniform indicate anything about Ackbar's rank or affiliations? Mon Calamari hands have six digits. The bulky forearm is much thicker than Ackbar's sleeves. Either the fabric is very stretchy, or else it has a hidden zip. Otherwise, how could Ackbar push his arms through the sleeves when he dresses? [Jan 2003]

Details of Admiral Ackbar's upper torso, front side. Are the wattles of his neck merely creases, or do they mark gills also? He has two badges in a position where an Imperial officer would have a rank plaque. Are these insignia? If so, the dull, indistinct colouring (to human eyes) is good evidence that Mon Calamari vision extends to other wavelengths. (Practical rank insignia need to be visibly distinctive to the other members of Ackbar's service.) [Jan 2003]

A slightly more distant view of the upper areas of Admiral Ackbar's uniform, and his left arm. [Jan 2003]

Imperial officer

Whole-body view of an Imperial officer uniform, concentrating on the man's left side.

Whole-body view of an Imperial officer uniform, concentrating on the man's right side.

Imperial officer cap. The button is axially symmetric with stacked cylindrical blocks of three different radii.

Closeup of an Imperial officer's uniform right shoulder, centred on the rank cylinder in its specialised pocket.

Imperial officer rank cylinder, photographed with flash.

Close view of an Imperial officer's rank plaque, left shoulder and collar. The wings of the collar are closed together in the normal way of wearing the uniform [in the movies] but that may have been difficult to achieve because of the width of this mannequin's neck.

Closeup of Imperial officer rank plaque, with three red and three blue units. The units are made of a translucent, partially reflective material. The metallic base is composed of two wide sections, one above the other.

Imperial officer uniform: details of the belt, buckle and sleeve cuffs.

Closeup image of Imperial officer belt buckle.

TIE pilot

The front of an Imperial pilot's helmet. Air hoses connect to the area where stormtroopers normally have two bolt-like plugs. This pilot has nothing written on his crest; some others do have a short word or symbols at the front end of the crest. The roundel of the Galactic Empire, in white colour preferred by the Starfleet, is painted to the left and right of the crest. The function of the metallic, semi-obscured area at the front of the crest is unknown. [Jan 2003]

Whole-body view of Imperial pilot uniform (somewhat out of focus).

Closeup of the chest area of a TIE pilot uniform. Some of the buttons on this box resemble buttons on the chest box worn by rebel pilots. These devices probably have something to do with air supply and air scrubbing (although the rebel uniform is not air-tight).

An intriguing array of switches on the sleeve of the TIE pilot uniform. Do they affect the functioning of the flight suit, for instance the air seal? Or do they have something to do with the pilot's duties: communications gear etc? Rebel pilots have a similar device on their sleeves.

Commander Luke Skywalker (Hoth)

Overview of Luke Skywalker's outdoor uniform worn on Hoth, shown from shoulder to ankle. Luke's lightsabre from ROTJ sits in the foreground; a tauntaun model appears on the right side of the photo.

Skywalker's parka worn on Hoth. The device at his left breast is marked with four coloured squares that seem reminiscent of Imperial rank plaques, and they probably serves as rebel rank insignia. The second square from the less seems tinted orange rather than red, but this may merely be due to discolouration of the aged costume, or an effect of the light in this particular photograph.

A closer view of the plaque sewn at the left breast of Skywalker's Hoth uniform. The second-left square appears orangish-red again, not pure red like the rightmost coloured square. We can only guess at the function of the grey components. Do they form an electronic transponder to signal Luke's identity, rank and physical condition to other rebels in the vicinity?

Closeup of a device on the left sleeve of Luke Skywalker's Hoth wilderness outfit. Shortly before his encounter with the wampa [TESB], Skywalker pressed one of the buttons and spoke to Han Solo via the wrist device, demonstrating that it is a comlink.

A more blurry, front view of Skywalker's wrist comlink.

Luke Skywalker (Yavin?)

Closeup of the chest box worn by Luke Skywalker as an X-wing pilot. Note the air hose protruding from the bottom of the box: its presence hints that the box does something in relation to air supply, air scrubbing or thermal life-support functions. What is the good of this device when the pilot's helment is normally open to the surroundings?

The three equally sized, vertically oriented switches (white, grey, white) at the bottom of the box resemble a triplet of switches on the chest box worn by an Imperial TIE fighter pilot.

Emperor's guard

A basic, somewhat unfocussed photgraph of the uniform of one of the Supreme Chancellor's (later Emperor's) personal guards. The exposed arm areas are covered in cloth and are obviously unarmoured.

Left side of the Imperial guard costume. The cloak appears bluer than the helmet. Is this an effect of aging, or is it an illusion caused by scattering of blue background light on the fibres? [Jan 2003]

Front view of Imperial guardsman costume. The pointed toe of the right boot is partly visible; it appears to be made of a fabric, unlike those worn by other types of Imperial soldiers. [Jan 2003]

Naboo royal handmaiden

A full view of one type of Naboo royal handmaiden/bodyguard uniform. Thin, complex red designs appear on the hood and sleeves. It would be interesting to know whether these markings are individual or the same for all the handmaidens. Are they meaningless or are they a form of composite lettering, a kind of Naboo calligraphy?

A closer view of the arms, torso and head parts of the handmaiden uniform.

The torso, sleeves and skirt of the handmaiden costume. The lining of the sleeves and outer robe are vividly shiny compared to the dull outer fabric.

Somewhat blurry but flash-free photo of the Naboo royal handmaiden costume, highlighting the contours better.

Details of the front-left side, including sigils on and around the left cuff. [Jan 2003]

cold assault stormtrooper

Knee-to-head view of a stormtrooper equipped for battle in cold climates. The major pieces of armour differ from the regular stormtrooper uniform; only the top of the helmet and the pieces on the backs of the hands resemble parts from ordinary-weather uniform. Large areas of the arms and legs are unarmoured, presumably because wearing both armour pieces and heavy insulation would hamper movement unacceptably.

Closeup of the torso parts of a set of cold assault stormtrooper armour. The function or meaning of the red and silver details is unknown. The parts are unlikely to represent officer rank, since most and perhaps all of the troops seen on Hoth [TESB] had these marks. The red rectangles on the trooper's left side should form a column of three, but the central red block is missing.

This is a blurred view of the torso, but the lack of flash allows the overhead lighting to highlight the relief.

rebel commando

Costume of a Rebel commando on Endor. The inner garment appears to be a light brown jumper. The outer garment is a long green camouflage coat. A bandolier belt is festooned with several types of blocks, of unknown function. Are they ammunition, grenades or something else?

More details of the upper parts of the commando costume. A rectangular plaque on the commando's left shoulder may be a comlink like the gadgets worn by rebel soldiers on Hoth. Unclasped helmet straps hang near each side of the neck.

Boba Fett

Overall frontal view of Boba Fett's costume. Braided wookiee scalps hang over his right shoulder. The olive green paint on his torso armour appears to have a yellow undercoat. Rocket dart launchers in the horizontal devices on the sides of both kneepads. [Jan 2003]

Boba Fett's left side, with his rocket and missile backpack partly visible. The conical/cylindrical device on his left wrist gauntlet is a flamethrower. His trouser pockets bulge, but what do they contain? What is the brown ropelike material encircling Fett's waist, below his pouch-belt? Is it derived from wookiees, like the braided scalps at his right shoulder? [Jan 2003]

Closeup of the top-right side of Boba Fett's breastplate armour, showing an intriguing Mandalorian emblem: apparently a plant in the centre, plus perhaps a raindrop or teardrop in the top, and an unidentifiable symbol at the bottom.

Hanging from Fett's shoulder we can see braided sections of several of the hunter's infamous wookiee scalps. At least one of the wookiees was black-haired, and one was blonde. This is an interesting demonstration that wookie hair is at least as diverse as the hair colours of humans or dogs.

Somewhat-blurry photographs of Fett's left gauntlet, which is armed with a flame-thrower.

Boba Fett's right arm, and parts of his blaster and torso.

Boba Fett's helmet and shoulders. His green cape appears to be bolted onto his armour at the shoulders. The outer layer of olive-green paint on the body armour plates overlies a dark yellow undercoat.

Zam Wessel

A full-length right-side view of the attire of huntress Zan Wessel. Her assissin droid appears on the right side of the picture. [Jan 2003]

Details of Zam's helmet and goggle-like eyewear. This device has at least one (apparently) adjustable control knob set beside the left eyepiece. There is another inscription in the middle of the front of the helmet.

Upper parts of Zam's breastplate (with intriguing inscriptions) and the lower part of her veil. The arc-like shapes of the letters are vaguely similar to the characters painted on the doorways of the throne room in the palace of Jabba the Hutt [ROTJ].

A variety of strange unidentified objects attached to Zam's belt. Considering Zam's trade, the string of black beads might be a kind of garrotte.

Zan Wessel's torso, showing the perplexing relationship between armoured panels and hoses (which appear to enter her body perpendicularly). The green device on her left side is of unknown function. The outer vest is laced together like a shoe or corset; the laces are visible beneath her right armpit. [Jan 2003]

Wessel's midriff, with details of her right glove, and a strangely looped buckle-like device on the belt. What is the ampoule hanging between the buckle and her holster? Is it something nasty related to her trade as an assissin, or is it medicinal for her species? [Jan 2003]

Middle leg area of Zan Wessel's costume. She has a scabbard bound to her left thigh. Beads, of unknown function (garrotte?), hang in front of and above the scabbard. She wears a blaster holder at her right hip, implying that she's right-handed. (It should not be taken for granted that non-human species differentiate with left and right preferences.) [Jan 2003]

Details of Wessel's armoured boots and unarmoured lower stockings. What is the purpose of the spikes near her inner toes? Are they weapons for kicking attacks, or are they a kind of spur for riding beasts? [Jan 2003]

STAR WARS Technical Commentaries
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Original content is © copyright Dr Curtis Saxton 2003.
Online since 3 January 2003.
Last updated 20 November 2005.

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