As part of their ongoing coverage of pretty much everything Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Vanity Fair interviewed costume designer Michael Kaplan, the man in charge of outfitting the cast of Episode VII. Kaplan designed the costumes for some pretty legit movies, like Blade Runner, Fight Club, Armageddon, I Am Legend, and both of J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek movies…which would make sense why he’s working on TFA.
In the interview, Kaplan talks at length about his being influenced by Blade Runner, and how he used the technique he learned there, in designing the costumes for The Force Awakens.
"I learned a lot on Blade Runner, just my love of grit and texture and things being overly aged."
That seems to line-up perfectly for what Abrams has said is his vision for restoring the Star Wars franchise to its former glory. One of the biggest problems many fans of Star Wars had with the prequel trilogy, was that everything was shiny and overly new looking.
"We re-used many things, like taking old military gas masks and tubes and hoses and kind of applying them, which we did on Blade Runner, which I’ve always liked to do when I can."
That quote should provide some relief for those fans who were worried Abrams would fall back on his Star Trek lens-flaring, polished shine look. Kaplan was then asked if he had reused any of the old Star Wars costumes or props, to which he said no, and explained why.
"So the new uniforms are much heavier. Also, 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."
Again, this is fantastic news. The new stormtroopers of The First Order (The Force Awakens‘ antagonists), look amazing, which they should, since Episode VII takes places some 30 years after Episode VI. Kaplan explains that even real-world military uniforms get a fashion update from time to time, so why not the military of the Galactic Empire, too?
When asked if he had a “fashion back-story” to explain the evolution of the stormtrooper costumes, Kaplan had this to say:
"With the stormtroopers it was more of a simplification, almost like, “What would Apple do?”"
Besides charging me $800 for each piece of armor that needs constant software updates and has a terrible battery life, you mean? (Sorry Apple, I’m still not over the iPhone 4s). No, I get it, I do…the new troopers look sleek and modern, and do stand-out from their predecessors, which is something Apple consistently does. I especially like the new helmets of the trooper armor. The much smoother design definitely goes with a new era in the Star Wars franchise. Kaplan was also asked about the differing looks of the two factions in the movie. He expressed his confusion of the original trilogy, how both sides had nearly identical uniforms (sans the stormtroopers). He also attributed the Nazis for the Imperial officer look, which if you think about it, really is spot-on. You can read Vanity Fair’s interview with Michael Kaplan by clicking the link provided here.