In order to get the look right for “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” costume designer Michael Kaplan had to throw out all the designs he was working with from the original trilogy.
Kaplan, who previously worked on “Blade Runner,” “Fight Club,” and J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek,” didn’t think anything from the original “Star Wars” trilogy could apply to a new film.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Kaplan says that a lot of the old costumes, such as the stormtrooper uniforms, would not be usable anymore.
“Audiences of today have become so sophisticated that a lot of things you could get away with in the past, you can’t anymore.” Kaplan told Vanity Fair. “So the new uniforms are much heavier.”
Much of the action in the film is different than it was in the original and because of that, the new costumes had to be designed to accommodate that.
“The action in the film required them to not be ‘VacuFormed’ [like the old uniforms] as those all broke and cracked. These new ones are much more heavy-duty, but they are redesigned, too, they’re not the same stormtroopers.” Kaplan added.
While director J.J. Abrams wanted to hold on to the “uniqueness” of the stormtroopers, he also realized that it would be odd to “have the same stormtroopers this much later when Leia and Han are so much older.”
“The Force Awakens” will take place 30 years after the events of “Return of the Jedi,” which came out in 1983.
Instead of drastically changing the way the stormtroopers look, they decided to make their outfits a little simpler. Or, as Kaplan puts it, he thought: “what would Apple do?”
Like with a lot of new Apple products, Abrams wanted the stormtroopers to still look the same “at a glance” but also “different enough to kind of wow people and get them excited about the new design.”
There were some other looks that Kaplan wanted to alter as well. He recalls being confused by the look of the warring factions.
“…The uniform colors kind of overlapped—both [the rebels and the Empire] had some khakis and olive, and I kind of thought, Now I’m in a position to do something about this.” Kaplan said.
To remedy this problem, he gave The Empire “very cold blacks and grays and metallics and teal blues.” Meanwhile, The Rebels are given a warmer look of “khakis and olives and some oranges.”
Even the looks of classic characters such as Leia, Luke, and Han, who will return for “The Force Awakens,” weren’t completely sacred. However, Kaplan realizes that there is a line he must walk between preserving what the characters always were, and making necessary changes.
“A lot of it had to do with what was right for the story and the action, but a lot of it was also, you know, people have a way of dressing.” Kaplain said. “I wouldn’t really be doing my job if I thought, Hey, let’s redesign this character totally and put them in colors they’ve never worn. It just wouldn’t make any sense. But you also want new, interesting things to look at. You want enough change to be there.”
You’ll have to wait until the end of the year to see the new looks. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will be in theaters December 18, 2015.