Star Wars Costume Designer John Mollo Passes Away

Star Wars' legendary costume designer John Mollo passed away earlier this week at the age of 86, according to the Times of London.

News of his passing should upset any Star Wars fan, but now is the time to celebrate his brilliant achievements in the franchise as the costume designer.

Though Ralph McQuarrie receives most of the credit for helping establish the visual aesthetic of the films, it was Mollo's interpretation (and use of a thrifty budget) that created the iconic costumes for the Star Wars franchise.

Mollo was a military historian who focused on uniforms, writing multiple books on the subject. He then began consulting on films such as Barry Lyndon by director Stanley Kubrick. When George Lucas began work on Star Wars, he offered the costume designing job to Milena Canonero, who already had another gig lined up. So she recommended Mollo, whom she worked with on Barry Lyndon.

Mollo then took to recreating McQuarrie's iconic designs with a budget of $90,000, which was less than the cost of the individual sets on the film according to the book How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise.

That means Darth Vader, the Stormtroopers, and the many aliens on Tatooine were all from Mollo's conjuring, using stock items instead of having the designs fabricated from scratch.

Mollo won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design in 1978 for his work, and accepted the statue flanked by his creations.

“As you see, the costumes from Star Wars are really not so much costumes as a bit of plumbing and general automobile engineering,” said Mollo in his acceptance speech.

He would go on to work on more iconic films like The Empire Strikes Back and Alien, eventually winning another Oscar for his work on Ghandi in 1983.

Mollo's work has become a permanent fixture in pop culture, and his influences continue on in films like Alien: Covenant and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

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