I feel kind of awful discussing Satine Kryze after so many weeks of Maul but, well, when in Mandalore…
Duchess Satine Kryze is pacifist the ruler of Mandalore first introduced in The Clone Wars episode The Mandalore Plot. Her initial design was drawn from an unused McCaig concept for The Phantom Menace, but it has also been stated that Cate Blanchett was a key influence in her overall design. (given the appearance of Governor Pryce in Rebels season 3, it’s apparent that Blanchett is someone’s favourite over at LFL.) Blanchett’s role as Queen Elizabeth I was particularly drawn on, Satine’s key costuming borrowing many late Tudor/early Elizabethan elements, and certain parallels between the two women’s lives.
L: Elizabeth as portrayed by Cate Blanchett with Robert Dudley (Joseph Fiennes) in Elizabeth. Preparing to be escorted to her incarceration in the Tower of London at the order of her sister Queen Mary I (’Bloody Mary’). R: Satine Kryze being rescued from her imprisonment by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Lawless.
Satine, as a young woman, lived her early years constantly at threat during the Mandalorian Civil War, her pacifist ideology at odds with ‘true’ warrior-like Mandalorian ways. Eventually peace was brokered, and Satine ruled over the New Mandalore even as violence, danger and oppositional factions brewed. In a way this could be seen to draw from Queen Elizabeth I’s tumultuous childhood: first as a child out of favour with her father King Henry VIII, being the child of ‘treasonous’ Anne Boleyn, then as a protestant young woman in the reign of her Catholic half-sister Queen Mary I. In this time Elizabeth was raised as a figurehead for Protestant rebellion, which eventually led to her detainment in the tower of London despite her claim of innocence. Throughout her reign Elizabeth faced a number of incidents of opposition from catholics and the Roman Catholic Church, though her attitude was one of pragmatic compromise in many aspects of religion. These parallels are loose but notable in their broad brushstrokes.
Original Amidala sketch by Iain McCaig for The Phantom Menace
When designing Amidala for The Phantom Menace, McCaig was working through a ‘Space Nouveau’ aesthetic, borrowing elements from the works of Mucha, the Pre-Raphaelites and retro-futuristic romance of the first half of the twentieth century. Technology and nature in harmony. This design, when stripped back for animation to be practical, emphasised those now notably familiar Star Wars lines that borrow from Japanese fashions, whilst still retaining the Romantic aspects. the shapes of Satine’s headpiece echoes the increasingly elaborate ruffs and wired collarettes that grew exponentially throughout the fashions of the sixteenth century. The headpiece and gown are also heavy with symbolism: shell earrings and embellishments, the repeating petal shapes in her sleeves, skirts and tabbards as well as the literal lillies woven into her hair and headpiece loudly communicating her pacifism. She is visually placing herself within her own principles for all to see, decrying the past violence of her people, and the relative simplicity of this costume despite its ceremony (block colours and controlled embellishment - though the fabrics are clearly indicated to be silks) saves her message from being drowned out. These symbolic embellishments have been a popular aspect portraiture for centuries to communicate and sway power and impressions, in portraits of Elizabeth I the symbolic choices appear in their multitudes from props to tiny embellishements to the very styling of her hair. In the famed Rainbow Portrait (below) of Elizabeth I - a fantasy portrait painted late in her reign, but depicting a young newly crowned queen dressed for masque - embroidered eyes and ears show that she is a queen that Sees and Hears all. A queen in absolute control of her land.
L & C: McCaig’s design reworked and streamlined by Killian Plunkett to work both within The Clone Wars aesthetic and for the character. This is a great example of concept recycling and adaptation for character, as when this design was originally selected as a base design for Satine, it wasn’t known that she would be quite so active and ‘dynamic’ as she ended up in the episodes. [X] R:The Rainbow Portrait, 1600-02, attributed to Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger.
This organic silhouette at odds with the old is also visible in Satine’s landscape. Mandalore was designed drawing heavily from the Cubist movement in the most literal way. Their cities are built inside cubes within their destroyed environment. Sharp angles occur in everything from buildings, hair, food and ice cubes, floor texturing. Interspersed throughout are the diamond shapes and lines of Mandalorian armour, shifting into an Art Deco boundary between the Cubist harshness and Satine’s Nouveau romance. This mid-design point means that Satine is not entirely in opposition with her environment - her world and her people. These diamond shapes are present in the cut of her open oversleeves. She visually acknowledges Mandalore’s history whilst representing the new. (Equally, this could be seen in that her costume - despite it’s ceremony - holds little impediment to action and self-defence when necessary.)
The main plaza on Mandalore, clearly showing the Cubist influenced design, complete with detailed mural depicting the war with the jedi, and repeating diamond shapes.
Satine’s next notable costume looks a lot like she just walked out of an ‘80′s fantasy film and it is fantastic. The romance is heavy in this look with the long, soft lines and the muted pinks, particularly as she and Obi-Wan investigate the Death Watch on the industrial Concordia. She wears a shortened surcoat that mimics the cut of a man’s doublet, a fashion that was favoured throughout the sixteenth century, and appeared in both French and Italian fashions (Italian styles fell out of favour in much of Europe in the latter half of the century as Spain became increasingly influential.) This fashion has appeared, heavily embellished, in a number of portraits of Elizabeth I, reflective of her dichotomy as woman and sovereign, as expressed in her famous address at Tilbury,
I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king
Satine’s ‘80′s adventuring costume.
The harsh cutaway style of Satine’s surcoat also mimics late eighteenth century frock coats and equestrian fashions, clearly communicating to the audience that is Time For Adventure! even whilst calling back to the late Tudor fashion for skirts cut to reveal heavily embroidered petticoats. Again, echoes of those Mandalorian armour diamonds are introduced in this cut, whilst organic elements are retained in shell detailing and the floral line of her chemise. Satine, too, must address her dichotomy of being in her very appearance.
L: Portrait of Mary Stuart (aka Mary Queen of Scots), c. 1559, Francois Clouet. R:Portrait of a Noblewoman, c. 1580, Lavinia Fontana. Mary Stuart is shown in a French doublet-styled bodice, whilst Fontana’s portrait is in the Italian giuppone style. The possibility of a Mary Stuart influence in Satine feels particularly apt given their mutual martyrdom. Mary, a devout Catholic who also lived a tumultuous life at odds with her country, was executed by Elizabeth for her movements to depose the heretical English queen.
Satine’s final costume - in both its forms - is by far her most interesting and most historical. Its basic silhouette is a slimmed down take on the late Tudor/early Elizabethan bell shaped gown using the verdugle, or Spanish farthingale. As I mentioned above styles were influenced by politics, and the Spanish styles were favoured from the marriage of Katharine of Aragon to Henry VIII until late in Elizabeth I’s reign, when French fashions were favoured due to threatening war with Spain. (Anne Boleyn was known to have been bold in her favouring of French fashions as a couriter in the time of Katharine of Aragon, though styes were generally mixed.) Obviously Satine is not wearing a farthingale - it would be impractical, and her gown is later stripped away. But this is a politically influence shift in style: the symbolism in dress is stripped away, the flamboyance is gone. I have joked in private that maybe Satine borrowed the Naboo royal dressmaker, but there is little doubt that her ceremonial costume was designed with an eye to the wider galactic stage and what would be recognised as regal garb. This is a much stricter silhouette - upright, austere though still richly (but subtly) embellished. It is a design turned inward. Those Cubist elements are creeping into the lines of her skirt as she is taking a stand for her people and for New Mandalore.
L: Duchess Satine Kryze in Shades of Reason. C: Elizabeth I when a princess, c. 1546, attributed to William Scrots. This early fashion for oversleeves is also evident in Satine’s first ceremonial costume, as is the split skirt. R: A Young Lady Aged 21, Possibly Helena Snakenborg, Later Marchioness of Northampton, 1569, the British School (a personal favourite.) Here you can see shoulder rolls and the broad neckline with delicate open infill.
Again, we are seeing a dichotomy between the feminine and masculine, her sleeves and stand neck calling back to those borrowed from the pourpoint doublet, the sleeves studded and bracciali, shoulder rolls, taking on the look of armoured pauldrons. The broad neckline introducing that diamond shape yet again and placing it directly against petal shapes of the stiff stand collar mimicking the guimpe, typically soft infill, now strengthened and yet vulnerable and exposed. Satine is strong in her beliefs, but the ground beneath her feet is vanishing rapidly.
As this arc progresses, the costume is ripped, stripped away and softened. Embellishment - such as her jewels and belt - are removed, her hair is loose, her skirt shortened. It is here that those Cubist elements become even more apparent in the front tabbard-like section of her skirt, echoing the split-skirt Tudor fashion. Interestingly, these stylistic elements were favoured by Elizabeth when she was young, unstable in her position as princess and then, later, queen.
Satine Kryze, deposed, imprisoned and the worse for wear.
It is relevant to notice at this point Satine’s colour palette. Her main colour is blue - particularly this deep prussiany blue - feminine whilst also strong. The colour of Mandalore. She and her people are not part of the war, but at this point she is caught - personally - between the personal vendettas of Maul and Obi-Wan, both of whom are sliding into bloody reds and browns. She is the middle ground, trapped. Pinks and reds emerge in her costumes at various points when she is knowingly heading into danger, the pinks of her Adventuring costume, the red of Coruscant costume when she is on the run in The Duchess of Mandalore. Satine’s primary ceremonial gown has elements of purple and greens - she is in power, and in control. A ruler in her prime. But in this final arc she is blue and stripped of everything but her principles, and yet perhaps at her most Mandalorian? Considering Padme’s watery funeral gown, it appears that blue is the colour of martyrdom.
Next Time: The path unfollowed: the heroics of Padme & Leia
Eiko Ishioka: Celebrating the designer’s extraordinary costumes for Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the life of Japanese visual artist and designer Eiko Ishioka (1938-2012) on what would have been her 79th birthday.
Born in Tokyo, Ishioka trained in advertising before casting her unique eye for patterns and detail towards more creative avenues, designing sets, costumes and promotional materials for operas, album covers, music videos and movies, working with such cutting-edge artists as Miles Davis, Björk and Tarsem Singh.
Ishioka’s best-known and most enduring work remains the Oscar-winning costumes she created for Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1992, a spectacular restaging of the classic 1897 horror novel from Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Godfather trilogy (1972-90) and Apocalypse Now (1979). The pair met when Ishioka designed the Japanese poster for the latter film and struck up a friendship.
Given imaginative free-rein by Coppola, Ishioka’s costumes for star Gary Oldman brought the vampire count to life and freed him from the black cape and evening wear the character had become associated with through iconic Universal and Hammer portrayals by Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee.
Her vivid designs are crucial to Dracula’s arresting visual impact - a contribution rivalled only by Polish composer Wojciech Kilar’s stirring orchestral score - and do much to counteract the film’s somewhat questionable casting choices, with Keanu Reeves as wooden as a stake playing heroic lead Jonathan Harker.
Here are five of Ishioka’s most extraordinary creations from an under-appreciated movie packed with invention.
Blood red armour
Coppola’s film opens on the plains of Eastern Europe, where Oldman’s Vlad Tepes is leading an army of Christian knights into battle against invading hordes from Turkey. Victorious, he returns home to find his bride, Elisabeta (Winona Ryder), has killed herself - believing him dead - and forsakes god in despair.
Ishioka clads Vlad in an all-crimson suit of armour replicating the sinewy texture of flayed muscle, its helmet cast in the shape of a wolf’s head. Impractical, historically improbable but an utterly gorgeous flight of fancy.
Dragon’s tail kimono
When English estate agent Harker first arrives at Castle Dracula, he is greeted by the count wearing a flowing scarlet silk kimono that trails behind him, a gold phoenix embroidered on its breast.
Decrepit, ravaged by age and blood-starved, the robe gives the craven creature an Old World elegance and refinement at odds with the decay of his failing body. It’s the most clearly oriental design Ishioka brings to the film and one of cinema’s most unforgettable costumes.
The clothing the count wears in Transylvania nods to the character’s ancient lineage and provides a direct contrast to the Bond Street tailoring he favours in the West.
The billowing metallic gown above, rich in jewels and patchwork curlicues, resembles a bishop’s vestments and is entirely in keeping with the Satanic perversion of Christianity the demon represents.
Clothing as character
The 19th century gowns worn by Dracula’s female leads - Ryder and Sadie Frost - are largely true to the period but Ishioka nevertheless finds room to introduce unique character notes.
Frost’s Lucy Westenra, for instance, is introduced wearing a peppermint green party dress patterned with entwined snakes, a motif hinting at the character’s overt sexuality, which Dracula will duly exploit. Later bitten and laid to rest, Lucy rises from the grave in an Elizabethan burial gown whose lace ruff was inspired by an Australian frill-necked lizard - typical of Ishioka’s left-field approach.
The open-necked red gown worn by Ryder above leaves Mina Harker vulnerable to the monster’s fangs while simultaneously conveying the character’s latent passion and sensuality, its three-quarter length sleeves capturing the drama of the Romantic period.
Sunglasses after dark
Never afraid to play with chronology, Ishioka’s move to modernise Dracula culminates in the revolutionary, though entirely practical, decision to hand him a pair of sunglasses.
Rejuvenated by fresh transfusions upon his arrival in London, the younger count tours the West End in a fine charcoal top coat, waistcoat and matching hat, his dandyish shades shielding him from fatal sunlight and adding a steampunk flavour to the production, repeated in the striped straightjacket Tom Waits’s Renfield sports in the asylum.
The fourth in my series of reimagined wishing gown illustrations! I finished it yesterday, but it was rainy as all hell so I wanted for bright sunny weather to post it. Just ‘cuz.
I’m actually obnoxiously proud of how this came out, especially the detailing on the hat and the general design of the swimsuit. I ended up going for are more vintage looking style because it just felt like it would suit her and the pattern better.
Lupita Nyong’o: “We also have to ask ourselves what merits Oscar prestige. Often, they’re period stories. And for people of color, they end up being about slavery or civil rights. A blockbuster won’t do it. Do I have to be in a big Elizabethan gown?”
This is one of the points I was making earlier, it’s time to change what we consider “prestige,” and that mass appeal blockbusters and quality artistic film shouldn’t be considered mutually exclusive.
Or the yearly batch of “prestige” just needs to include people of color. Really either one would be nice.