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

(Photo: Allison Upchurch)

               From November 13 to April 9, the Denver Art Museum hosted a special exhibit entitled Star Wars and the Power of Costume. From characters like Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker, to Darth Vader and Bobba Fet, this exhibit showcased the intricate concept, design, and execution of each of the costumes that actors and actresses wore to become the characters in the Star Wars saga.

               According to the introduction text when visitors first walked in the exhibit, Star Wars and the Power of Costume showcases how the costumes were “inspired by imagination, and an eclectic mix of culture, historical, and mythical sources” and how they “shaped identities and brought characters to life”.

               Visitors to the exhibit had the opportunity to go through and get up close to various costumes, props, and concept art of the Star Wars characters from Episodes 1 through 7. All visitors were accompanied by a hand-held audio device that featured both adult and children’s audio. The adult audio walked visitors through the behind the scenes facts and costume designer testimonies of the pieces on display, while the children’s invited younger visitors to take part of a game show called “Galactic Getups and Gadgets” and vote on whether they like the costumes or the gadgets and props the best.

               The costumes were displayed in sections according to which types of characters they belonged to. For example, the Stormtroopers, rebel pilots, and First Order officer costumes were featured together in one area because of how they all fit into the military character aspect of Star Wars. Along with the displays of the actual costumes, there were sections of the exhibit that took visitors into replicas of the costume design studios where the first drafts of costumes are thought up and drawn on paper. Later on, visitors would be lead into replicas of the costume manufacturing departments where costume designers searched and selected from thousands of fabric options to find the right one that would bring out the essence of the character on-screen and make it comfortable for the actor or actress to wear. These sections helped visitors get an idea of how much time and effort it takes to put together the most well-loved and iconic costumes in the Star Wars saga.

               To all the costume designers who come together to make the costumes for this most cherished franchise and to those who will join in the future: May the fabrics be with you. Always.

Allison Upchurch Staff Reporter