Carrie Fisher loved being back in Star Wars, but in 2015, during the press tour for The Force Awakens, she sarcastically described Leia’s clothes in that film as “kind of a classy gas-station attendant look.” But in The Last Jedi, General Leia’s look was back to being what director Rian Johnson describes as “fabulous.” And, it looks like the iconic sci-fi fashion of Blade Runner was an inspiration.
In the newly released book The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Phil Szostak, the evolution of Leia’s look is detailed with concept art created during the early stages of the film’s development. As costume designer Michael Kaplan explains, “Rian wanted Leia to be a little more queenly or authoritative looking…as a takeoff point, I’d seen pictures of Queen Elizabeth wearing these capes on the Scottish moors.”
“One of the few specific visual ideas I gave was the big Blade Runner-like coat with the huge collar that blocked the bottom half of her face, “Johnson says “I wanted her to look badass.”
Johnson is probably referring to the large coats worn by Rachael (Sean Young) in the original Blade Runner, but also the high-collared coat worn by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), which probably loosely inspired Ryan Gosling’s coat for Blade Runner: 2049. And, the Blade Runner connections make even more sense when you realize Kaplan’s background. In addition to designing the costumes on the 2009 Star Trek reboot, as well as The Force Awakens, Kaplan was also the original costume designer on Blade Runner in 1982.
Obviously, The Last Jedi isn’t as dystopian or bleak as Blade Runner, but it’s stunning to think how much aesthetic influence one film still has on so many other science fiction films. Benedict Cumberbatch’s coat in Star Trek Into Darkness had Blade Runner lines, while George Lucas himself was inspired by Blade Runner when creating a skyline scene for Attack of the Clones.
Hopefully, the new Star Wars films never introduce the concept of a Replicants. That would be too much to handle. But as long as the characters continue to dress like Replicants, everyone in a galaxy far, far away will continue to kill it in the style department.
Pick up a copy of The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi from Abrams Books, to see all the gorgeous concept art for Leia and loads more behind-the-scenes glimpses.