A Brief History of Princess Leias Bikini

first_img Carrie Fisher remembers Princess Leia’s metal bikini all too well. Besides the fact she had to wear it, her face and body are almost always associated with it.“I remember that iron bikini I wore in Episode VI: what supermodels will eventually wear in the seventh ring of Hell,” she said in a 1999 Newsweek interview.The bikini itself, sometimes called the “Slave Leia” costume or the “Hutt Slayer,” is one of the most recognizable costumes in all of Hollywood history, up there with Dorothy’s red slippers from the Wizard of Oz or Darth Vader’s helmet. But for a costume that appears briefly in one movie, it does open a mixed bag of feelings for Fisher, the people who worked on Return of the Jedi set, and the fans who covet it.The costume itself was created mostly by designer Aggie Guerard Rodgers and Nilo Rodis-Jamero, who had some input from George Lucas himself. Lucas apparently wanted something “special” for the scene in Jabba the Hutt’s Palace.“His eyes started sparkling when we talked about it,” Rodgers said.The bikini was inspired in part by the work of Frank Frazetta, an artist who designed covers for comics such as the Buck Rogers series, along with movie posters. Rodgers said that his framing of the female form was done out of a love and respect for it. If you look at his works, you can see a distinct attention to detail when drawing all human bodies, especially when it came to naked or exposed muscles. His science fiction and fantasy artwork, along with his use of metal clothing, also has some clear inspirations on the costume. Specifically, the outfit resembles the one pictured on the cover of the 1970 version of the novel A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.Courtesy Starwars.comThe men on set, like Lucas, had a similar reaction to the costume.“Most of the crew are men, and they really enjoyed being on the set,” Rodgers added.There were multiple versions of the bikini that Fisher would wear for certain scenes. There was the aforementioned metal one, but there was also a rubber one that Fisher could comfortably perform stunts in. Each version was lined with leather to prevent chafing, but that didn’t make it easy to wear. Fisher said that she had to lose weight and tone up to even put the bikini on and sit in front of Jabba. It was unwieldy, didn’t cooperate with the rest of her body, and made her the subject of some weird attention.“This was no bikini. It was metal,” Fisher said in an interview. “It didn’t go where you went. After the shots, the prop man would have to check me. He’d say, ‘Okay tits are fine. Let’s go.’ So I started checking for any bounce or slip after takes. Then it was, ‘Cut. Hey, how they doin’, hooters in place? Tits all right?’ I was embarrassed at first with a hundred guys going crazy over my revealed self. Dignity was out of the question.”And it wasn’t just the crew. In certain scenes, Fisher said that other actors could see…a little more than they were supposed to.“I was lying next to Jabba the Hutt…The actor who played Boba Fett stood behind me while I was wearing the bikini, and he could see all the way to Florida.”A lot of work went into the bikini, which was only around for a few minutes of screentime, but it’s had a long-lasting impact, specifically in the minds of the fans and in the merchandise that made Lucas into a billionaire. Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford received a small percentage of merchandising sales (which nobody thought would amount to anything), and that included in the figures that would bear their likenesses.Of course, back then, it wasn’t clear as to what would happen when Fisher signed that away. In hindsight, it strikes her as strange.“In those days, there was no such thing as a ‘likeness,’ which is a funny thing to say coming from the family that I came from. There was no merchandising tied to movies. No one could have known the extent of the franchise. Not that I don’t think I’m cute or anything, but when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t think I was signing away anything of value,” she wrote.Seeing your face on a plastic figure would be weird for a lot of people, but it has to be disassociating to see your face on a figurine many deem exotic or as a male fantasy.“George sent me [a figure] for my birthday. So I sent him a message saying like, I know he owns my likeness but did [his ownership] go that far?” Fisher said in the 2008 television series Bring Back Star WarsCourtesy Starwars.comThe debate on whether the bikini is a sex fantasy, an empowering outfit for women, or something else entirely has followed the bikini in the following decades. It’s a convention cosplay mainstay, an easy shorthand in media for a nerd’s teenage dream, and a constant bane in Fisher’s side. On one hand, the outfit itself is a fetish piece, put on Leia to make her subservient to Jabba. On the other, Leia manages to break out of her chains and help to shut down Jabba’s operation, all while in the bikini. Throughout the scenes, she’s never exactly a victim, even though Jabba thinks she is. She’s just waiting for the right moment to strike. The bikini can serve as a sexual fantasy for the viewers, but they have to realize that they’re sharing that same fantasy with a gross blob monster. The context of the scene and Fisher’s performance is what gives it a positive, empowering spin, not the outfit itself. It’s why so many people (not just women) wear it to conventions. Star Wars x Adidas Ultraboost Photos Have Leaked’Star Wars Pinball’ Has Your Favorite Brand in Ball Form Stay on targetcenter_img That chain only”enslaved”me until I could use the frabjous thing to KILL THAT DROOLING SWOLLEN SUPERTONGUED SLUG&whirl him off into infinity— Carrie Fisher (@carrieffisher) July 15, 2015Critical analysis of the scene and the outfit is also reflected in the merchandise. In 2015, at the height of marketing for The Force Awakens, many inside sources reported that Disney was discontinuing the outfit in comics and on toys. Seeing a half-naked woman with a chain around her neck arguably isn’t the best image for children (especially if her moniker includes “slave”), but considering the cultural definition of the outfit, it’s not pure fantasy.There was a petition going around at the time to change the name from “Slave Leia” to “Hutt Slayer.” In the 2016 Star Wars novel Star Wars: Bloodline it made the name change official and a part of the canon. Writer Claudia Gray said that she made the change to associate the outfit with this more empowering, positive interpretation.“Not only did I like recasting that outfit as a memory of Leia being really strong and kick-ass, but think about it—for a human being to kill a Hutt with her bare hands? That’s unbelievable,” Gray said. “Anybody who would be able to pull that off would be remembered for it. That would be legend.”So we’ve gone from Slave Leia to Leia the Hutt Slayer, but the bikini is still the same. It’s had a long half-life, has gone through multiple interpretations, and caused people either discomfort or joy. For such a small piece of metal, it’s large and polarizing in our cultural minds.But what became of the bikini itself? One version was sold in an online auction for $96,000. Gus Lopez, a Star Wars collector, revealed following the auction that he is the proud owner of the costume. Now you know where to direct your jealousy.More on Geek.com:‘Star Wars Always’ Trailer Is Topher Grace’s Moving Montage10 Cool Gifts for Every Star Wars JunkieLuke Skywalker’s Original Light Saber Can Be Yourslast_img read more