DENVER (CBS4) – On Sunday, in a galaxy not so far, far away, “Star Wars and the Power of Costume” opens at the Denver Art Museum.
From more than 70 original costumes, those worn by the actors in the movies, to the concept art and props, like the Emperor’s fingernails or what the actors wore under the droid and Chewbacca costumes, hundreds of pieces of Star Wars memorabilia are on display, many of them unique to the Denver exhibit.
The exhibition goes beyond the Star Wars movies and the items, instead focusing on the creative process that encompassed George Lucas’ vision and the challenge of translating characters into reality through costumes.
“A costume is a frozen piece of story, the story of who you are, the story of what you’re saying to the world, and what weather you’re reacting to, and what your state of mind is, and the repair and disrepair of what you’re wearing,” said Star Wars concept artist Ian McCaig. “If you know how to deconstruct a costume, it really is telling you a little piece of story about that character.”
McCaig knows a lot about the characters, too.
Star Wars creator George Lucas tasked him with coming up with the concept art for Darth Maul, the evil Sith Lord in the first prequel movie, “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace,” telling him to draw his worst nightmare.
“Darth Maul was the hardest challenge I faced on the Star Wars films, largely because the only other Sith Lord I knew was Darth Vader, and he was a man wearing a mask,” McCaig said. “For years I tried to out-helmet Darth Vader, and it practically led to a break down. And then I thought, no, no, take it off and see what’s under there.”
McCaig created several variations of Darth Maul, morphing him from witches to clowns, finally coming to the now-iconic horned, tattooed villain by mistake when he blotted out an unsatisfactory drawing.
PHOTO GALLERY: ‘Star Wars And The Power Of Costume’
His favorite costume, though, was one worn by actress Natalie Portman in “The Phantom Menace.”
“I can draw this stuff, but then you actually have to make it real. And that’s where the costume designers come in, and all these wonderful, wonderful collaborators come in. They take it and actually have to make it exist in the real world,” McCaig said.
“So many of us have warm memories and a fascination associated with the Star Wars films, and it’s really the characters that maintain this longstanding connection,” said Stefania Van Dyke, the museum’s interpretive specialist. “Characters like Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker have become inseparably associated with their costumes, and our unique presentation will give a look at the inspiration and nuanced creative processes of designers and artisans.”
The exhibit is intended to show not only the historic context and influences of the Star Wars costumes, but how they progressed from conception to finished product, including those of the dreaded Sith Lords, Chewbacca, X-Wing Pilots, C-3P0 and R2-D2, and more.
Hands on opportunities, and special hidden treasures found just at the right height, are also available for kids.
“Star Wars and the Power of Costume” runs through Sunday, April 2, 2017.
CBS4 is the proud media partner of the Denver Art Museum.