A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…or, more accurately, in 1999 and in cinemas all over the world, the woman who would eventually give birth to two of cinema’s most enduring characters, Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa, appeared on-screen for the first time.
Padmé Amidala is a character in George Lucas’ Star Wars™ prequel trilogy. A 14-year-old newly-elected Queen fighting against her planet’s occupation, Amidala goes on to become a senator and lead the charge against war and corruption. Over three films, she and Jedi Anakin Skywalker fall in love, secretly get married and are then torn apart by his journey to the dark side on his way to becoming Darth Vader. Padmé gives birth to Luke and Leia in her final moments before passing away of a broken heart.
Portrayed by Oscar-winner Natalie Portman, Padmé is perhaps most remembered for her extraordinary costumes. Impressive in terms of design and spectacle, as well as number, the character’s wardrobe is the work of Scottish costume designer Trisha Biggar.
Biggar, from Glasgow, spent eight years leading the team responsible for creating some of the most memorable costumes in film while working on the Star Wars prequel trilogy. She was involved in the design of everything from Jedi robes to CGI clothing for characters such as Jar Jar Binks. And, of course, Padmé Amidala’s stunning pieces.
For the first six months after opening, you will be able to see one of these amazing gowns for yourself. Loaned to us from The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, currently under construction in Los Angeles, California, we will celebrate Trisha Biggar’s work by displaying one of Padmé’s stunning outfits from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. It will be on display in the section of our Scottish Design Galleries that represents the power of design in storytelling.
Known as the travel disguise costume, the gown was worn by Padmé as she secretly travelled with Anakin Skywalker to her home planet of Naboo. The intricately embroidered dress, inspired by Paisley pattern material, features an ornate copper plated headdress and burgundy silk cloqué coat.
Biggar took inspiration for the textile design from a Paisley pattern swatch she found in Glasgow. The mustard dress, collar and cuffs feature floral shapes and motifs embroidered in burgundy and green, reminiscent of the piece of vintage material. The distinctive shape of the garment was influenced by Russian folk costumes.
By the time Trisha and her team were constructing the costumes for Star Wars, she had collected a large amount of vintage fabrics and trims, many sourced in Glasgow, to decorate and embellish the elaborate pieces being created. Around three-quarters of all of Padmé’s dresses have a touch of Scottish vintage on them somewhere.
“Everything for every planet and culture was being created anew,” Trisha explains. “We used references and drew on a multitude of influences from all over the world, from every culture, country, civilisation and period, mixing them up to shape new fashions. By reinterpreting ideas and drawing on history the audience would – albeit subliminally – recognise and identify with the myriad of Star Wars styles.”
Biggar started her career in costume by chance after a family friend suggested she apply for a summer job sewing costumes at Pitlochry Festival Theatre in Perthshire. From there, she went on to work at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow before studying costume at Wimbledon College of Arts.
She worked with Lucasfilm Ltd on the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, created, co-written and produced by George Lucas, before being asked to take part in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Biggar continues to live in Scotland and has worked all over the world designing costumes for film and television. She will soon begin working on the next series of Outlander.
Many visitors to our museum will have no idea that the costumes in the Star Wars prequel trilogy were designed by a Scottish designer, or that they include references to the country’s rich design heritage. Next time you see an amazing costume in a space opera, look a little more closely…it might be less otherworldly than it first appears.