Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith: Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala wearing a dark cloak and a black beaded dress. Her look is accented by heirloom earrings and an elaborate Naboo hairstyle.
After Padmé’s revealing, feminine costumes in Attack of the Clones, the design team for Revenge of the Sith returned to the The Phantom Menace’s idea of disguises for the final episode. Whereas the Episode I costumes were disguising Amidala’s youth and the use of a decoy, the Episode III costumes are disguising Padmé’s personal life. As Iain McCaig said, “As well as now hiding this marriage to a Jedi, which is not allowed, she has to hide the fact that she’s going to have babies. All of the costumes had to disguise these facts.” At the same time however, Padmé still needs to have an elaborate wardrobe befitting an outspoken member of the Senate. To balace these conflicting interests, the need for secrecy vs. the desire for attention, costume designer Trisha Biggar chose a navy blue panne velvet for this costume. “I wanted to use a dark color that would allow her to be in the shadows, but as soon as she stepped into the light, the light could catch the fabric,” Biggar explains. The lining of the cloak provided an additional lighting contrast, with a burned-out pattern on devore velvet. Whereas the fabric and the lining provided the flair needed for a senator, the shape of the cloak provided the secrecy needed to hide a very private pregnancy. Though the cloak’s drapery could be pushed aside to showcase Padmé’s pregnancy, while worn down, the fullness of the cloak prevents anyone from knowing she is expecting.
In addition to functioning as a disguise for Padmé, this costume also functions as a bridge for Star Wars fans. Concept art putting Padmé in buns first appeared for The Phantom Menace, but the design wasn’t utilized until Revenge of the Sith. By mimicking Princess Leia’s famous hairstyle from A New Hope, Padmé’s buns provide a necessary link between the final episode of the prequel trilogy and the first episode of the original trilogy. While Leia’s buns are more Scandinavian, Padmé’s are inspired by Native American, specifically Hopi, styles. After Hopi girls participated in a four-day puberty ceremony, their hair was wrapped around u-shaped bows to create the “squash-blossom” or “butterfly” hairdo. This style signified their maturity and readiness for marriage. It’s ironic that Padmé wears this hairdo, meant to announce one’s desire for a husband, when she’s desperately trying to the hide the fact that she’s already married.