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>Costume Studies
>>Darth Vader in pop culture



















































SubjectDarth Vader
Culture: American sci-fi
Setting: Star Wars franchise












​ 
​ Context (Event Photos, Figures)

* Vader 2005 p5
"In the lexicon of film, Vader is an ominous presence that defines the word 'villain,' and he is without a doubt the poster boy of fear.  However, Vader is far more than just another bad guy -- he's an international phenomenon who is instantly recognizable, and his reach stretches far beyond the simple confines of film to permeate the very psyche of millions of people the world over.
    "After the summer of 1977, there wasn't a single person with a television or radio who didn't know the name or masked face of Darth Vader.  Even people who hadn't seen the film couldn't hide from him.  And it wasn't too long after Star Wars' release that Vader's visage began to pop up on everything from posters and buttons to t-shirts and shoes, not to mention the countless numbers of figures, banks, clocks, and notebooks -- he was everywhere."​

* Misiroglu & Eury eds. 2006 p87-88
"Arguably the most recognizable supervillain in the world, Darth Vader is the creation of film writer/director George Lucas for his sextet of Star Wars films.  And although Dracula and other monsters may lay claim to centuries of storylines, no single villainous visage has been merchandised as much as Vader's black bell-shaped helmet.
    "Introduced in the film Star Wars (1977), Darth Vader was first seen striding through the smoke-filled, battle-scarred hallways of a Rebel transport, his audible breath chilling, his deep voice commanding, and his prodigious strength evident as he lifted a Rebel soldier and crushed his neck with one hand.  Viewers soon learned that Vader was a Dark Lord of the Sith, and the companion to the Galactic Empire's Grand Moff Tarkin, who was planning to use a battle station known as the Death Star to wipe out the Rebel Alliance."

* Sunstein 2016 p78-79
"Who's the most memorable character in the series?  Vader is the most memorable character in the series.  No one else comes close.
    "[...]  In a brilliant essay, Lydia Millet writes that Vader 'was the most erotic figure in the Star Wars family, and the only tragic one, and because of this he had a terrible beauty.'  An aristocrat, 'he had poise, elegance and good manners.  He was also 'the only question Star Wars posed to its audience, the only mystery presented.'  Mastery, distance, and command are his defining features.  In Millet's view, he 'has an erotic charge because he gets what he wants.'  (True.)  He makes the Dark Side seem sexy.  (It is, isn't it?)"

​* Sunstein 2016 p76-77
​"Darth Vader is frightening because he is part person, part machine.  Obi-Wan to Luke in Return of the Jedi: 'When your father clawed his way out of that fiery pool, the change had been burned into him forever -- he was Darth Vader, without a trace of Anakin Skywalker.  Irredeemably dark.  Scarred.  Kept alive only by machinery and his own black will.'  That is a fact, but it is also a symbol: falling to the Dark Side, he loses much of his humanity -- a prescient warning for those who live in an age of machines."


Costume

​* Decker & Eberl 2005 p36
"Vader's helmet and armor are based on those used by the samurai ...."

​* Misiroglu & Eury eds. 2006 p89
"Darth Vader's initial design was by concept artist Ralph McQuarrie, who gave Vader the face-mask as a breathing apparatus to cross between ships in the opening scene of Star Wars.  Lucas had asked McQuarrie to give Vader a helmet like a medieval samurai and a fluttering cape.  Sound designer Ben Burtt created Vader's breathing after many attempts to synthesize eighteen types of human breathing; his solution was to use the sound from a scuba regulator.  One element many fans miss is that Vader's breathing is constant, like an iron lung, and is not in tempo with his speaking."


Saber

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