John Mollo, Whose Costumes Made ‘Star Wars’ Seem Real, Dies at 86


Mr. Mollo’s costumes, intricate but appearing lived-in, were based on Mr. Lucas’s instructions and on his own sketches and those of a concept artist, Ralph McQuarrie, who drew some of the earliest renderings of many of the characters.

The results included the weather-beaten martial arts outfit of Luke Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill; the monkish robes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, played by Alec Guinness; the dusty cowboy look of Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford; and the pure white dress draped over Princess Leia, played by Carrie Fisher.

For the dark side, Mr. Mollo encased the imperial storm troopers in hard white carapaces and masks and hid Darth Vader, played by David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones, in a swooping black cloak and a helmet that brought to mind that of a samurai. The imperial outfits were designed to embody a fascist, dehumanizing order.

Mr. Mollo said he had never expected the film to be the blockbuster it became on its release in 1977.

Photo

Costume sketches by Mr. Mollo for Darth Vader, left, and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Credit
John Mollo/Lucasfilm Ltd.

“Most of the crew thought that the film was a bit odd while we were making it,” he told The Times of London in 2012. “We doubted that it would ever be shown. And I remember someone asking me what I was doing and I said, ‘It’s sort of a space western and one of the heroes is a dustbin.’ ”

“Star Wars,” the surprise hit of the year, won six Oscars, including the one for Mr. Mollo’s costumes. He accepted it at the award ceremonies flanked by actors dressed as Darth Vader and storm troopers.

“As you’ve seen, the costumes in ‘Star Wars’ are really not so much costumes as a bit of plumbing and general automobile engineering,” he said in his acceptance speech.