Star Wars and the Power of Costume

Iconic costumes from “a galaxy far, far away” are presented in the Smithsonian traveling exhibition Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume. The exhibition will open at Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) on May 25, 2017. Advance tickets will go on sale February 6th.

Pulled from the collection of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Star Wars and the Power of Costume is a partnership of the museum, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and Lucasfilm . George Lucas imagined and created a fantastical world filled with dynamic characters who told the timeless story of the hero’s journey. The costumes shaped the identities of these now famous characters, from the menacing black mask of Darth Vader and the gilded suit of C-3PO, to the lavish royal gowns of Queen Amidala and the iconic bikini worn by Princess Leia.

“Craftsmanship and artistry in costume design are valued creative components in the Star Wars saga,” said Lucas. “The detailed precision of a design can be as bold a measure of storytelling as words on a page, leading to truths at the core of a character, situation or shared history. From initial concept drawings to complex physical constructions, the costumes featured in this exhibition serve to further define crucial aspects of worlds created to move, educate and entertain us – to inspire the imagination.”

Presenting 60 of the finest hand-crafted costumes from the first seven Star Wars films, the exhibition uncovers the challenges, the intricate processes and the remarkable artistry of Lucas, the concept artists and costume designers. The costumes reflect an eclectic mix of cultural, historical and mythical sources that add rich texture to the story. Through nine presentational “chapters” – Introduction: Dressing a Galaxy; Jedi versus Sith: Form, Function and Design; Concept and Design for Royalty and Beyond; Symbolism and Military Power; Outlaws and Outsiders; All Corners of the Galaxy: The Galactic Senate; After the Throne: Padmé’s Journey; Darth Vader: Iconic Villain; and Droid™ Design – visitors will explore the creative process from Lucas’s vision through concept drawings by artists such as Ralph McQuarrie and Iain McCaig, to the final costume designs of John Mollo and Trisha Biggar, among others.

Costumes include:

  • Monk-like robes of Jedi masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker
  • Intimidating suit and complex breathing apparatus of Darth Vader
  • Military-influenced uniforms of the Imperial Stormtrooper, Senate Guard and TIE Fighter Pilot
  • Yak hair and mohair costume of Chewbacca
  • Intergalactic outfits of Senators Bail Organa, Mon Mothma and Mas Amedda
  • Fierce armor of mercenary bounty hunters Jango Fett, Boba Fett and Zam Wesell
  • Elaborately detailed gowns of Queen Amidala, Queen Jamillia and their handmaidens

Short films in Star Wars and the Power of Costume provide a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process and include interviews with artists, designers and actors. The visitor experience will be enhanced by digital interactives featuring sketches, photographs and notes that capture the creative team’s inspiration and vision.

“Costumes not only fill out the lush and captivating Star Wars galaxy, they tell a story,” says Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “Whether they chart the evolution of a character or identify good and evil or that murky space in between, each costume is a thoughtful piece that drives the story forward. We’re excited to bring this exhibition to Cincinnati show the process behind costume development and to showcase the talents and inspiration of those involved in that process.”

Star Wars and the Power of Costume is the third exhibition on which SITES has collaborated with Lucasfilm. Previous projects were Star Wars: The Magic of Myth and Star Wars: The Art of the Starfighter.

Star Wars and the Power of Costume opens May 25, 2017 at Cincinnati Museum Center. Advance tickets will go on sale February 6. For more information visit www.cincymuseum.org/star-wars.