Fashion feels the force

‘Star Wars’ themes stormed the SS16 catwalks. As a new film opens, Grace Cook asks designers just why the Jedi still enthral?
Still from 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' which opens next week, and SS16 looks from Louis Vuitton, JW Anderson and Rick Owens

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JW Anderson

Northern Ireland-born Jonathan Anderson, 30, launched JW Anderson in 2008. In 2013, he was also appointed creative director of the luxury Spanish label Loewe.

Star Wars is significant for me because it’s about escapism. We all like the idea of having something that reflects the world we live in — but abstracted. Where we can see parallels, but altered — like a non-moment in time. I think Star Wars is good for that. You can’t categorise the costumes by one particular decade; the clothes are hyper-modern, but they have this organic oddness to them which is why they so often inspire my collections.

Puzzle bag, £3,325, and spaceship keyrings, £125, both loewe.com

‘For me, it’s all about juxtaposition — wrongs and rights, good taste, bad taste. I think my collections, for Loewe and my own label, need to feel quite sweet but fundamentally a bit screwed. You always need both good and evil.

‘As a kid I was obsessed by the movement of R2-D2, and how through all the films it just gets better and better. The stormtroopers — with their black and white costumes — are so striking, plus we all like a baddie.

‘I’ve always wanted to use Star Wars graphics, which is why I was so excited when Disney approached me to do a piece for the charity collection for Great Ormond Street Hospital. It’s not often you get approached by Star Wars, and I like collaborations that have a personal attachment. This one spoke to me because it was mega-fun to let go and become a child, and be obsessive about something.’

Preen

Husband and wife, Justin Thornton, 46, and Thea Bregazzi, 47, come from the Isle of Man. They launched Preen by Thornton Bregazzi in 1996.

Preen by Thornton Bregazzi SS16

‘There have always been slight sci-fi references in our designs but it wasn’t apparent to everyone until we decided to put Darth Vader on the front of a dress for AW14: it’s usually more of a feeling than a direct allusion — a graphic line or element that comes through. We love Darth Vader. You could show his picture to anyone in the world and they would know who he was.

‘The most creative people at the head of the most creative industries are sci-fi fans, and Star Wars fans, and they’re all about our age. That’s what’s so inspirational about Star Wars. We grew up with it; it was one of the first films that meant something to us.

‘We all carry Star Wars with us: the aesthetic, the visuals, the costumes, the robots, they all stand the test of time. And there are so many layers to the films’ design — the Samurai/Japanese references for the Jedis are quite rough and raw, contrasting with the pure white battleships. We love the juxtaposition. That’s why we can always use Star Wars as a reference, whether it’s a white minimal collection, or a natural, beigey, organic, wrapping collection. It all comes from the same source.’

Peter Pilotto

Austro-Italian Peter Pilotto, 38, and his Belgian/Austrian business partner Christopher de Vos, 35, met while studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Antwerp. They launched Peter Pilotto in 2007.

Peter Pilotto SS16

Growing up, Star Wars was on TV every year. We saw it so many times — the first three movies from the 1970s and 80s we really liked. The ones from 10 years ago, not so much.

‘There’s a certain Star Wars aesthetic that we were born with — something so familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. We don’t reference a single character in particular, it’s more the general visuals and the set that fascinate us. Those scenes from the first movie: the shiny robot, the spaceship in the desert, and these antique costumes in the mix with a futuristic environment — that tension is so inspiring.

‘There’s a moment in Star Wars where the Millennium Falcon accelerates to warp speed and the stars go into this perspective tunnel: we used that as a reference to create a galaxy print for AW08. Our show producer Alex Betak is a big Star Wars fan as well, so that’s one of the reasons we always have a sci-fi undertone to our sets.’

Claire Barrow

Stockton-on-Tees designer Claire Barrow, 25, launched her label in 2013. Since February 2014 she has been receiving Newgen sponsorship from the British Fashion Council and Topshop.

Claire Barrow sweatshirt, £110, Selfridges

‘I was seven years old when I first saw the Star Wars films. A cinema in Middlesbrough reissued the original three so I went to see them with my dad. They inspired and disturbed me: when Hans Solo gets frozen in the carbonite in the Empire Strikes Back and when Darth Vader’s mask comes off in Return of the Jedi; both [scenes] really frightened me.

It’s that element of fear without it being unwatchable that makes them so appealing. Sci-fi always influences my work. I once read that it is the purest form of creativity because it’s predicting a future that we don’t know, which helps to create stories that build the narrative of your collections.

‘The sweaters and T-shirts I’ve done refer to the films’ merchandise, with hand-drawn illustrations of C-3PO and R2-D2 as the best of friends — those characters make the films more fun.’

Designers featured participated in Disney and Lucasfilm’s ‘Star Wars: Fashion Finds the Force’ event, in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. Charity sweatshirts are available at Selfridges stores. ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ is in UK cinemas from December 17

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