It’s widely known that George Lucas was a fan of Akira Kurosawa’s work and famously used inspiration from films like The Hidden Fortress, Seven Samurai for many of the film’s plot and characters as well as whole scenes.
The influence of Japanese culture on Star Wars is obvious once you start looking for it. Despite the spirit and storyline, you might already have noticed parallels with Japanese culture in the costumes of many of the characters.
Some inspiration for Jedi costume came from Japanese traditional kimono, the Jedi robe and Japanese samurai kimono share a lot of similarities. In fact, in the beginning of A New Hope, the costume design was difficult for hot days in morocco and was even inspired by military uniforms. George Lucas wanted especially non-science fiction clothing because of his love for costume design came from his childhood. While martial arts are pretty universal, there is definitely a Japanese influence on the Jedi look in general.
“He suggested that maybe Vader could be in a silk robe that always fluttered as he came in, and he might have his face covered with black silk and have some kind of big helmet like a Japanese warrior.”
What Lucas was describing was something like a feudal Japanese kabuto, a type of helmet worn by the samurai warriors that frequented the Akira Kurosawa films Lucas loved so much (as Lucas told Rolling Stone in 1977, “Star Wars is slightly designed for Japan”).
It's quite usual that samurai helmets display the personality of the wearer, Darth Vader’s personality is shown through the dark color of his suit and helmet.
Stormtrooper costume is also popular among the cosplayers. The entire conception of Stormtrooper was heavily influenced by the Nazi storm troopers. So the helmet design might have some similarities.
Ralph Macquarie’s concept art for stormtrooper might have drawn from their actual attire, but the resemblance is very abstracted. What we can make out is that the headgear, goggles and gas mask were all melded into a single futuristic-looking unit.
About the new helmets from The Force Awakens, the costume designer for the movie, Michael Kaplan says that the new designs were inspired by Apple. If you notice the new stormtrooper helmets are quite seamless.
Han Solo’s character was modeled partly after the lone, rogue gunslinger archetype of Western films. The Han Solo Costume is out of the old West. He uses a blaster like a gunslinger. His shirt style is called the Custer shirt–if you go to any western clothing store today, you’ll find a Han Solo-Esque cream-colored shirt. Even his vest has a sense of the old West to it. To update the look and make it seem original to the Star Wars universe, Mollo, who won an Oscar for his work on the films, added red and yellow striping down the side of Han Solo’s leggings.
In turn, current real-world fashion echoes Han Solo’s style, whether consciously or not. There’s a trend where a lot of women wear leggings, tall black boots, then T-shirts and puffy vests. They end up looking like Han Solo. There’s a subtle, pervasive way that Star Wars costumes influence fashion.”
The look of Kylo Ren Costume - which apparently was literally created with the intention of leaving an indelible stamp on the young audience's minds.
The black color is obviously reminiscent of Darth Vader (who seems to be a hero of Kylo Ren's), but the silver lines are also special in the film for aesthetic reasons. Basically, they're fantastic at picking up different light sources around it, and look awesome.
Some of the demons in Japanese culture or oni, tend to be on helmets and be symbols or figures to be feared. These demons tended to have horns/antlers and be all red and in body paint. Instead of displaying it on the helmets, George Lucas made a whole oni inspired character (Darth Maul) which had horns/antlers with red body paint in the Phantom Menace.
The Jedi lightsabers came from the idea of samurai swords. In the samurai culture, the sword was called the soul of the samurai and the same meaning and philosophy was given to the Jedi knights.
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