THE FORCE IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE
Joanee Alina Honour, Fashion Design ’92, stewards Star Wars costumes and props at George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch

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Qui-Gon Jinn, Darth Maul, and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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An imperial officer.

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Handmaiden costumes from 1999’s The Phantom Menace.

Star Wars is huge in my life,” says Joanee Honour ’92. She and her colleagues take care of the Star Wars archive of original costumes, models, art, and props. “We’ve got R2D2, the Millennium Falcon, and the Death Star,” she says, though her job mostly involves the costumes. As the senior registrar for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in California, Honour styles them for exhibitions, stores and preserves them, and conducts research. Costumers for Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens, the latest sequel in the franchise, wanted continuity with the original movies, so they often contacted her from London while filming to verify specific details. For Lucasfilm Disney licensing, which creates Star Wars-related merchandise, she’ll take a costume’s measurements or assist researchers using 3D scanners to reproduce high-end costumes. Details matter, because the audience can be obsessive. “The fans know even more than me,” she says.

It took Honour and the archive team four years to assemble the exhibition, Star Wars and the Power of Costume. This collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution, tied to the release of The Force Awakens, is on view until September 2016 at Discovery Times Square. The show, featuring the actual costumes, has gotten rave reviews, and attests to the importance of the clothes—from Obi-Wan Kenobi’s robes to Princess Leia’s “slave bikini,” and a host of looks from the new movie.
“We wanted the costumes to speak for themselves,” Honour says, “so I found and helped design poses for faceless mannequins with beautiful cheekbones.”

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When Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the designers behind Rodarte, visited Skywalker Ranch, says Honour, “my two worlds—fashion and Star Wars—collided.” The pair came for a photo shoot featuring props from the museum and Star Wars-themed gowns they created in silk and silk chiffon for their fall ’14 collection.

Visitors used to seeing the garments onscreen may be surprised by the attention to detail—couture-level sewing in some fabrics, their wrinkles carefully steamed out by Honour, elaborate gowns affixed atop archival-friendly Mylar. Styling the Queen Amidala costume for display involved sewing discreet magnets into the lining of the headpiece to hold it in place. It took a year just to dress the mannequins. Being a registrar also means creating elaborate condition reports to ensure that objects are returned as immaculate as when they left the archive.
Honour travels worldwide to work on shows, but she loves returning to Skywalker Ranch. “It’s my dream job,” she says. “Everything I’ve ever wanted to do is here.”

All exhibition photos by Paul Martinka for Discovery Times Square, 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd.