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SOLO Costume Designers Talk Which Rock Icons Inspired Han and Lando’s Wardrobes

From Darth Vader’s iconic outfit to the elaborate gowns of Padmé Amidala, Star Wars is consistently one of the best-dressed franchises in the game. Putting their own sartorial stamp on the galaxy far, far away are costume designers Glyn Dillon and David Crossman, whose work on Solo and Rogue One have put them on the Star Wars spinoff beat. The two also worked on The Force Awakens, as a chief concept artist and a costume supervisor, respectively.

Both Dillon and Crossman are huge fans of the Original Trilogy, which makes Solo and Rogue One (both of which take place within a few years—in Rogue One‘s case within a few days—of A New Hopea perfect fit for them. In pre-A New Hope science-fiction films, Dillon told, “Nothing looked used, everything looked glossy. So when you saw the Millennium Falcon and it looked basically like a used tractor and, you know, it kind of felt so real, it felt part of the real world.” While the prequels are heavy on ornate costumes and the Sequel Trilogy leans more sleek and futuristic, the costumes in Original Trilogy—due to, one imagines, a combination of intentional design choices and budgetary limitations—often looked not too far distant from the sort of things people in our corner of the universe would actually wear. Hell, the pants Luke Skywalker wears on Tattooine are literally Levi’s

That lived-in feel is something that Dillon and Crossman brought to Solo, the most grimy ‘n’ gritty installment in the Star Wars universe yet. And, of course, there are capes. You can’t not have capes. We spoke to the duo about outfitting Solo in this exclusive interview.

With Solo, you’re working with some characters who are already very familiar to audiences. For Han and Lando, how do you stay true to their original spirit while still putting your own spin on them?

Crossman: Well, I think we stayed true because we know them so well. We grew up with them. We’ve known them for 40 years. And so, me and Glyn will sit there, talking about Han and Lando endlessly. They’re characters we’re so familiar with. How can we do something cool that’s going to slot into the existing universe without jarring, while still bringing something fresh?

Dillon: You want it to feel like Ralph McQuarrie and [A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back costume designer] John Mollo, and what those original guys would do, but updating it enough so that it’s still got something new.

Can you give me specifics of how you went about updating the looks of these characters?

Dillon: [For] the inspiration for a lot of the characters in this film, we looked to music, really. For Lando, we were looking at, like, Jimi Hendrix—just trying to imagine what these characters would be like when they were younger. James Brown and Marvin Gaye. It was a wealth of inspiration, really. We looked [to] The Clash for the young Han Solo: cut-off sleeves and biker boots. It’s trying to use inspiration that might even have been used at the time [of the Original Trilogy] by the designers. So that it would have felt of that time, as a part of that universe.

Did you pull from music to inspire you for Rogue One’s costume design as well?

Crossman: We used the Osmonds for Rogue One! [Laughs] No, we didn’t use musical inspiration. It was all about the Vietnam War on Rogue One. All the musical inspirations that we used on [Solo] fit the period anyway, so it brought you back into the proper time frame. It was either punk, New Wave, or soul from the late ‘60s through the ‘70s. It drew you into that period and gave you that musical exuberance, that display of some of those musical styles.

With Solo and Rogue One, they both take place not too long before A New Hope. I imagine you don’t want to stray too far from the aesthetics they established in 1977.

Crossman: Exactly. [Rogue One director] Gareth [Edwards] always said, “Do it as you remember, not literally how it was,” which is quite a good guide. You imagine a Fleet Trooper or a Snow Trooper a certain way, and you’ll look at them and obviously things are a bit more sophisticated now with cinema audiences. I think that’s a good way of approaching it: Looking at how you remember it, which is usually different to how it actually was. That’s what we try and achieve.

With Lando, that blue and gold cape in The Empire Strikes Back definitely looms large in the cultural perception of that character.

Dillon: The capes in The Empire Strikes Back, that’s Lando when he’s a working man [in charge of] Bespin. For us, we’re trying to get the youthful version of Lando, before he’s made it in the world. He’s trying to make his way. Everything goes into his clothing and the way he looks, to project that image.

How many capes did you make for Lando?

Dillon: It was around 35.

Thirty-five capes! That’s the dream.

Dillon: If you do 10 capes [for Lando’s walk-in cape armoire], it’s going to look half-empty. So we have to fill the room. Try to do an extensive palate. We tried to do some patterns.

Crossman: There’s shirts in there as well.

Dillon: We did a lot of shirts, as well—about 30 shirts. Then we tried to mix the textures, so you’ve got silks, wools, furs, leathers. The closet’s become a bigger thing since the film’s been released. [Our job is] more about getting Lando dressed and looking good onscreen. The room became more a thing as the film progressed, as to the marketing. We were just trying to portray that all his money’s gone into these elegant capes, shirts, shoes, scarves, accessories. Luxury.

For me, Lando’s wardrobe is so great, because the color palette of the film is quite subdued, and he pops.

Crossman: We always wanted it that way. We always felt that he should be the one that pops. [See exclusive concept art from one of Lando’s more popping outfits here.]

Dillon: The idea is the film is supposed to get more colorful as you go on.

This film goes to a lot of different places. What were some of the inspirations that you pulled from for the different groups, like Enfys Nest’s pirates?

Crossman: For Enfys Nest and her gang, we [drew] from a lot of different cultures, so that it didn’t feel like one thing in in particular. Japanese is in there, and there’s some First Nation stuff. Also stuff that’s made up, to get that feeling of the really eclectic mix of the gang.

You’ve worked now on three different Star Wars films—costume designers for Solo and Rogue One, and then on the costume team for The Force Awakens. how much does the process change from film to film, based on which director you’re working with?

Crossman: The director is the main driving force of the whole mood of the film. The spinoffs do differ from the main episodes. They’re definitely a different mood.

Dillon: So far, they’ve been in [roughly the same] time period [as the Original Trilogy]. It’s almost like doing a period piece. The [Sequel] Trilogy is 30 years in the future, so there’s a different feel in design terms.

Crossman: We’re big fans of the original films. Star Wars is this kind of ancient universe, broken down and [containing] relatable items that you can kind of recognize on the screen. That was part of the attraction of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

Dillon: We’ve both got very similar tastes. We like things that feel very real. We don’t like ‘costumey’ costumes.

Were you blown away by the bevy of capes and costumes Dillon and Crossman created for Solo? Let us know your thoughts on the film’s impressive threads!

Images: Lucasfilm

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