Designing costumes for the Star Wars franchise seems like a dream job, but Michael Kaplan is up for the challenge.
The costume designer has stepped into the large shoes of the late John Mollo, who won Academy Awards for his work on the original trilogy. Kaplan spoke about his work in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which continues a 'back-to-basics' approach to the look and feel of the characters.
"The old movies looked to Japan," Kaplan explained to the New York Times. "The original costume designers looked at a lot of ninja clothes. They looked at westerns. And they looked at [World War II] and a little bit at [World War I]. I went to the same sources they did. I didn’t want to reinvent Star Wars. I wanted to embrace it and update it."
When asked about his favorite design, Kaplan revealed he preferred Supreme Leader Snoke's crimson guards.
"Praetorian Guard. We looked at 1950s muscle cars. The costumes had to be on stuntmen who were fighting very hard," Kaplan said. "They use weapons and they need to have complete range of motion. And if these guys fall, you don’t want the armor cracking. And the helmets look like they have no way of seeing, but there’s actually tiny slits, and they can see out perfectly well. They’re very samurai, very Japanese, but very clean. Very Star Wars."
He also had the challenge of creating Leia Organa's newer appearance, which ended up being her final design in a Star Wars film after the passing of Carrie Fisher.
"She commented on everything. But whenever she was talking, there was laughter," Kaplan said. "She referred to her costume in [The Force Awakens] as her Sunoco gas station attendant costume. For The Last Jedi, the director Rian Johnson wanted her to look more regal. I got a really lovely letter from him, saying, 'You made her look so beautiful in these costumes for her final film.' It meant a lot."
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now playing in theaters everywhere.