How does a film title become an adjective? As in, “Oh, that’s very Marie Antoinette.’ in reference not to the historical figure but Sofia Coppola’s film, to denote anything pastel, frilly and vaguely 18th century rococo in feel. Or “That jacket is so Blade Runner!” meaning it has 1940s shoulder pads that segue into the 80s. Certain films and their associated aesthetics, have become part of our mainstream descriptive lexicon and it’s why even without reading the not-so-subtle title of this post, it’s not difficult to see from the line-up of models above, that the theme is… *Lucasfilm intro*… Star Wars!
Despite the array of British designers that were invited to take part in Selfridges’ Star Wars extravaganza last night, somehow it created a collective tableaux that couldn’t have been inspired by anything but the most anticipated film happening of the year. J.W. Anderson, Peter Pilotto, Thomas Tait, Agi & Sam, Bobby Abley, Claire Barrow, Christopher Raeburn, Phoebe English and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi were all in this stellar line-up and the results were impressive. Especially when preceded in a show that had R2-D2 and C-3PO come out for a brief cameo as well as a marching mass of Stormtroopers, accompanied by the famously rousing soundtrack. Unlike the scores of brand tie-ups and sponsorship deals that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has incurred, the pieces that the designers have created have creative merit to them, precisely because the theme is genuinely potent for the designers.
“I love that the world of Star Wars always manages to encapsulate an environment with an aesthetic that balances between the future and the past,” explained Thomas Tait as to the appeal of Star Wars. His black cut-out floor length cape and space age dress with patent boots had a hint of retrosuperture that is evident in the original Star Wars films. Other designers also went down an abstracted route to create their outfits. For Agi & Sam, the intensity flash of colours of battling light sabers translated into layered plastics in various hues seen in the refraction of light. For Phoebe English, it was the strength of the Stormtroopers and the movement of space travel that inspired her textural black and white looks with a controlled fringe detailing. Moments like the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive powering it into light speed gave Peter Pilot the linear motif on their dress.
Many of the designers looked directly at the attire of characters like Rey from the forthcoming film, who inspired Nasir Mazhar’s womenswear look. Or the kimono silhouette of a Jedi knight influencing Preen’s black and red graphic dresses. “When we think of Star Wars it’s always the light and the dark,” explained Justin Thorton and Thea Bregazzi. Christopher Raeburn too also played with the film’s central theme by using light reflective panels in his Jedi-esque outfits.
Bobby Abley’s childhood memories of Star Wars led to his graphic-heavy sportswear looks featuring the classic Stars Wars logo as well as an ode to Captain Phasma from The Force Awakens. Rather than going for direct representation of the film’s characters or themes, J.W. Anderson pays homage to the obsessive cult-like adulation of the film, using transfer stickers, cotton patches and Star Wars-esque illustrated imagery to adorn quilted crop tops with padded tops. It’s the spirit of intense fandom, which fascinated Anderson and the result is a pseudo sci-fi aesthetic that hints at Star Wars rather than referencing it literally.
Perhaps one of the most meaningful pieces belonged to Claire Barrow. Her signature paintings depict beings listening to Captain Phasma on a sleek silver satin dress. To go with Barrow’s black body suit covered with Swarovski® crystals is a bionic arm created by progressive prosthetics company Open Bionics, modelled by amputee model and vlogger Grace Mandeville. They’re paving the way in affordable bionic hands that are 3D printed to reduce the costs. Their black lit-up design created for this Star Wars show, blended seamlessly with the catsuit and more importantly, is more than functional for Mandeville (who doesn’t wear a prosthetic in her day to day life). Star Wars might deal with sci-fi fiction but companies like Open Bionics are bringing us closer to bionic reality, which made this particular ensemble memorable in more ways than one.