Let's be honest. Every costumer geek worth their salt knows something about the costumes of Star Wars. They're iconic. And there are tons of websites devoted to (or devoting sections to) the making of and how to reproduce these costumes.
So what am I doing here? This post is purely a love letter to the costumes of Padme Amidala. It was her beautiful dresses that sparked much of my interest in costume design (other than the Tudor England variety) and to this day I remain in awe of the artistry that went into designing her wardrobe.
If you want to know more about how the costumes were made, or the other awesome pieces designed for the Star Wars universe, check out the links below. Otherwise, keep scrolling for my thoughts on my favorite Padme costumes!
An essay discussing the origins and inspirations for "The Phantom Menace" and other Sci-Fi movie costumes.
The Star Wars Wiki's entry on Padme's costume, an excellent resource with pictures of every gown worn on film or in the TV or graphic novel tie-ins.
First up we have Padme's gorgeous meadow dress, from Attack of the Clones. It's a beautiful gown with elaborate embroidery and embellishment, and was so fragile that Natalie Portman had to be carried up the meadow so it wouldn't be harmed!
I am utterly in love with the layering of this dress and the details.
Just look at the sleeves and that bodice... it's like a piece right out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting!
It is harder to find a picture of Padme's funeral gown, as it is only glimpsed in a very short scene during which she is in her coffin. However it's a gorgeous dress, and the ripples of the water effect are hauntingly beautiful.
Padme's throne room dress is the first gown we see her in, and it serves it's purpose in making her look far older than her fourteen years. Drawing on influences from the Orient and Russia, it is deceptively simple at first glance, revealing layers of detail as you look at a high rez photo.
Padme's wedding dress is gorgeous and has an almost 1920's look in it's beading and cut. Her veil is gorgeous and yet unique, making it memorable but in an enchanting way.
I love how the embellishment on the sleeve is set against a chiffon so sheer that it is nearly invisible. Padme is all delicate innocent, contrasted with the heavy, brooding blacks of Anakin's Jedi robes.
Check out my replica of Padme's Wedding Ensemble starting here!
Padme's battle uniform is a well-thought out piece of work. It is pretty practical (except for being made of velvet which is a nightmare to wash) and is cut on uniform lines without becoming unregal or unfeminine.
When Padme became pregnant in The Revenge of the Sith, she was clothed in heavy draping garments to disguise her condition, and the camera usually lingered around her face. So we see less detail in the bodices and waists of her clothing, but some very lovely touches around her neck. Take for example this high, severve collar, softened by the gathered velvet and embroidered cloak.
Believe it or not, I like this costume.. It's long, and flowing, and quite simple but with nice details in the belt and sleeve embroidery. It also displays her stomach very well - and if you're going do display your stomach, might I recommend this costume instead of Leia's slave girl get-up? It'd be much more unique!
In Attack of the Clones Padme goes incognito, leaving behind the heavy velvet uniform of the first film for a lighter ensemble allowing freer movement. It's a bit too skintight for my liking, but at least she's covered up. Oh wait...
But putting modesty issues aside, this is really a pretty practical uniform, and space-agey with it's incorporated wire bust support (no need for a bra, you can just throw this on!).
I'm always torn about this dress. On the one hand, I like the idea behind it and the graduated coloring. On the other hand, I feel that it and the hairstyle (see actual hairstyle here, above is photoshopped) make Natalie Portman look really different than normal, and that always pulls me out of the movie.
May I introduce you to another one of my favorite costumes? Padme wears this in her second appearance in Attack of the Clones, when she meets Anakin and Obi-Wan for the first time in ten years. It is regal, but alluring, with simple lines and intensely detailed fabric. It draws on Elizabethan styles, but incorporates a African styles with the reed choker and headpiece.
Here we have another of the pregnancy gowns. Like the others, it is very subdued and draping, with a nice touch in the delicate lace shawl and exquisite beaded waist. These details make an otherwise dowdy dress really quite beautiful and elegant.
When I first got into costume design, I loved drawing pictures of dresses with gradiated colors. Looking back at the timing of those drawings with the release of The Phantom Menace, I think I can safely say my obsession started here. The handmaid dress is a simple mix of medieval and middle eastern styles, with deceptively plain cut and draping made rich and deep by the warm color variations. Someday I would very much like to honor my early love of this style by dying my own pieces to recreate this dress or something similar.
I've always had a strong affection for the refugee dress from Attack of the Clones, although I like it better with the cape. I'm not sure if it's the strong Spanish/Moorish influence, the delicate lace veil, or the deep vivid colors and prints of Mediterranean culture that we rarely see on Padme.
here we see Padme's first nightgown, which is a sort of Greecean draped garment in blue satin. I've always liked the design, although the pearls on the arms would be a nightmare for any kind of mobility.
I like this nightgown a bit better, as it looks more comfortable, although the gloves strike me as a bit odd. Still, I at least can't refrain from drooling over the intricate embroidery on the cuffs and collar.
This dress is one of my top five favorite Padme dresses, and I am forever in love with it. The soft gray sleeves, caught up in delicate silver bands, the structured bodice of deep blue velvet fastened with an elaborate brocade panel, shimmery rough blue silk of the deeply gathered skirt... I could gush on for quite awhile about this one!
For some reason this dress makes me think 'peacock' although it really has more of a death bird look, with the distressed lace and dark black ridges.
I was unable to find a better picture of Padme's decoy costume, but I did want to give it a nod. At least in this picture you can see her awesome hairdo.
Ah yes, the proof that George Lucas should never be a costume designer. Let's be honest, it's a beautiful piece on it's own, but it doesn't suit Padme, it makes her look like a fetish piece.
Here we have a fascinating look into some of the concept art for Padme's wardrobe. Some of the pieces are pretty close to the final results, others went through some serious revisions!
Lastly we have Padme's Naboo nightgown, which is a beautiful simple white, covered with a gorgeous thick blue robe. I'd just love to snuggle up in that, wouldn't you?
I love Padme's costumes so much, that when I joined a Star Wars RPG group, of course I had to do some of my own designs in the Star Wars universe! You can view them here.