Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club

Royal War College of Mandalore => Jadd Halls of Knowledge => Tutorials => Topic started by: Naran Baatar on Aug 03, 2018, 10:52 AM

Title: : The Star Wars Aesthetic
Post by: Naran Baatar on Aug 03, 2018, 10:52 AM
Tutorial Video: The Star Wars Aesthetic
Lead Authors: Naran Baatar (;u=31163), Maia Ocharon (;u=33609)
Edited by: MMCC Education Team

The following video will give you a basic primer on the design aesthetic of Star Wars, and help to give you a better understanding of what makes something "starwarzy"
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Video Script
Star Wars has become so well-known and so embedded in our culture that we hardly bother to scrutinize it in terms of what it is or what genre it should fit into. If you asked someone on the street what genre Star Wars is, they would probably answer science fiction. But from laser guns that fire bolts instead of streams to the nature of the Force itself, there is little in the Star Wars setting that smacks of science, making the moniker of “sci-fi” not really a good fit, it turns out.

Even though it sports advanced technology in the form of starships, laser weapons, and hyperdrives that fit in with the sort of thing we are used to seeing in science fiction, Star Wars is sometimes referred to instead as a space opera, because of the massive, galaxy-altering scale of its storytelling, or science fantasy, mostly because of the Force. If you think about it, Star Wars is really a tale of mystical space wizards fighting each other with what basically amounts to magic in the midst of a galactic scale political conflict.

So what does this mean in terms of costume design? Stylist and Star Wars fashion expert Laela French “believes that it’s [the] mixture of old and new, the familiar and the profoundly strange, that has made Star Wars a movie that’s endured.” In a 2017 interview for Vanity Fair about the design process for the costumes of Star Wars, she comments,
“They were inspired by all these historical references and then they mismatched,” she says. “Samurai, Russian Cossack, Medieval, Tibetan ... they pull it all together ... into a movie … no one has really seen a movie like that before."

The overall aesthetic of Star Wars is what some have called “used-future,” meaning that while the technology is advanced beyond what we have on Earth, it is, for the most part, not polished, shiny, or sophisticated-looking. It feels mundane, even shabby to the inhabitants of the world and gives the impression of functionality above all, even when it is sleek and stylish. There is a contrast in the universe between the level of tech the average creature has access to and what the Empire has. The contrast between what is barely-holding-it-together and what is fully-operational in the setting exists to create a visual contrast between upper and lower class, sophisticated and seedy. It gives unique traits to each character and culture the audience encounters in the world and tells the story through the visual aesthetic in a way they can feel. This aesthetic sets the Star Wars universe apart from other intergalactic media and gives the world its depth, texture, and detail.

Within the science fiction genre, there are many variations from the grim-dark style, such as Bladerunner, to the noble-bright aesthetics of settings like Star Trek—and plenty in between. Everything about the Star Wars aesthetic feels lived-in and worn rather than brand new, clean, and sophisticated, with a few exceptions such as Kamino. It is also not as dark and gritty as something like Ghost in the Shell, which is closer to cyber punk than sci-fi.

Star Wars blends aspects of filmmaking from the samurai movie and the western, the war movie and the horror flick, which means that in terms of creating weapons and armor that fit the setting, you have a broad range of inspiration to draw on. It hits a tone in between grim-dark and noble-bright. Star Wars armor designs use simpler shapes and lines than those in many closely-related settings that use armor such as Destiny or Final Fantasy, or real-life styles such as Chinese or Japanese warrior cultures, which have a lot more complexity going on. In short, we have a great deal of creative license to play with, but still have to stay within an acceptable range of what makes sense within the Star Wars universe.

Some of the best advice we can give is to spend a lot of time taking in Star Wars art, costumes, landscapes, and weapon designs. Exposing yourself to the range of what exists in the setting is the best way to develop a keen sense for what constitutes Star Wars-iness.

Good luck, and have fun exploring the galaxy.