You probably know to look for Star Wars collections in your local toy store, but what about on the runway? For nearly four decades, Star Wars has launched creative sparks in the fashion world, as designers churn out shoes, jewelry, purses, and whole collections dedicated to capturing George Lucas‘s intergalactic fantasy.
Most people don’t think “high fashion” when they think of Star Wars; yet fashion design is one area where the high concepts of science fiction can come to life in our own world. To prove it, we offer up these 10 fashion shows—moments when Star Wars ruled the runway and proved that cool, futuristic fashion doesn’t have to live in a galaxy far, far away.
London-based menswear designer Bobby Abley is a big Disney fan whose designs have featured various iconic animated characters before. So it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see Star Wars appear during his first solo runway show at Men’s Fashion Week in June. Men and women walked the runway wearing tops featuring Darth Vader, C-3PO, and other characters, along with phrases like “Bobby Fett,” in a kind of slangy fusion with Star Wars.
Abley gets personal input from Disney on his designs. “They’re quite happy to let me do what I want creatively. Their people sometimes have suggestions and marketing ideas, but they trust me,” he said in an interview with the New York Times this summer.
If you like Abley’s interpretation of Star Wars, you’re in luck. It sounds like more might be on the way from the designer soon.
2) Rodarte Fall/Winter 2014
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If 2014 felt like a year when we kept seeing Star Wars high-fashion throughout the season, then we owe it all to sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy, the designers behind fashion house Rodarte. Rodarte’s 2014 New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter collection probably had the biggest impact of any Star Wars fashion show in recent years. The Mulleavys drew on their own childhood experiences with Star Wars as the theme for this dazzling show. These beautiful, elegant Star Wars dresses were still sparking conversations long after fashion week ended; celebrities sported them and Lucas’ famous Skywalker Ranch hosted them for a photoshoot—the first fashion shoot in the ranch’s history. Now that’s using the Force of fashion.
3) Alvarno Spring/Summer 2016
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Darth Vader appeared in Alvarno’s show at Madrid Fashion Week in September, thanks to the crystals that made up the villain’s mask on many of the designer’s Star Wars items. The results are stunning tops that draw your focus to the Sith Lord. Designers Álvaro Castejón and Arnaud Millard told Vogue that in 2014 they spoke with Disney “because they wanted to collaborate with a Spanish brand to make something trendy.” The entire capsule collection includes six pieces all featuring Vader.
4) Triton Fall/Winter 2015
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This line by Mara Hoffman is another perfect example of how clothes don’t have to show logos or characters to be inspired by a series. It’s the patterns and colors here that invoke Star Wars instead.
“When I was putting the palette together with all of these creams, whites, and camels, I thought, ‘This is completely Luke Skywalker,'” Hoffman told Vogue. “I fell in love with the landscapes on his planet, Tatooine, and I wanted to modernize and feminize the 1977 film.” She succeeded.
7) Preen Fall/Winter 2014
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Not long after Rodarte, Preen continued a year of Star Wars couture at London Fashion Week. Founders Thea Bregazzi and Justin Thornton created tops and dresses featuring Darth Vader, working with Disney to develop the line. These looks also continued to be talked about throughout the year and appeared in the wardrobes of celebrities.
It’s not just live-action Star Wars that inspires designers. In February 2010, Acne Studios’ creative director Jonny Johansson was inspired by The Clone Wars. It’s another collection that does not go the route of using imagery so much as cut and colors to express its inspiration. Johansson told Vogue at the time that his oldest sons were obsessed with the show.
“It’s not literal, of course, just a feeling, an inspiration—and many of the silhouettes continue from last season. But I liked the idea that movies with spacey subjects are supposed to look futuristic,” he said.
9) The Masterpiece Strikes Back: A Fashion Exploration inspired by Star Wars
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In December 2014, Disney and Lucasfilm worked with Indonesian luxury magazine HighEnd to present a whole fashion show centered on Star Wars called “The Masterpiece Strikes Back: A Fashion Exploration inspired by Star Wars.” More than 10 designers presented outfits inspired by everything from characters like Darth Maul to starships like the Millennium Falcon. The results are some of the most creative and breathtaking examples of Star Wars fashion to ever walk a runway.
Four designers presented collections during “The Galaxy Runway inspired by Star Wars” show at Malaysia Fashion Week in November. Each one focused on a particular aspect of the franchise, with stormtroopers, Jedi, Sith, and Queen Amidala inspiring the lines. Designers created multiple outfits around their theme for an impressive array of looks showing how even one piece of the saga can inspire a diverse range of fashion.
Photo via bobbyabley/Instagram, Rodarte/Facebook, Triton/Facebook (CC by 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman