George Lucas drew inspiration from various story shapes for Princess Leia Organa’s hair in Star Wars, making the character even more meaningful.
George Lucas’ inspiration for Princess Leia Organa’s hair in star wars makes it even better, because it is also linked to the real story. Leia’s history in the franchise has placed her among science fiction’s finest diplomats and revolutionaries, taking on many titles, from Senator Leia to General Leia. Just as famous as her spy and war skills are her distinct designs and braided hairstyles, which cemented Carrie Fisher as both a genre and fashion industry heroine. Although the original and definitive “cinnamon roll” hairstyle from 1977 A new hope evolves throughout the saga, its influence is still evident until the posthumous appearance of Carrie Fisher in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
The origin of Leia’s look is disputed. George Lucas said (via WEATHER) that in developing the princess look, he was “working very hard to create something different that wasn’t trendy, so [he] went with a kind of revolutionary southwestern woman look from Pancho Villa.” An image of a Mexican revolutionary who fought as a “soldadera” and guerrilla in the early 20th century, Clara de La Rocha, matches Leia’s hair and featured in a 2016 star wars exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. However, historians such as Tabea Linhard (via BBC) dispute that it was a common hairstyle of the Revolutionary era, suggesting that this image is the outlier rather than the trend. The “squash blossom” style of the Hopi people of Arizona has been suggested by researchers as another influence, which comes in the form of two locks of hair.
Whatever the exact origin of the inspiration, it does not contradict George Lucas’ intention in giving her this hairstyle, namely that Princess Leia is a powerful revolutionary, carrying the historic weight of women who fought against the ostracism and corruption. Whether it’s indigenous American culture defending its land against violent imperialism, or early 20th-century Mexican soldaderas battling dictatorship, through Leia’s hair, Lucas signals to the audience that this is not not the typical princess of the Kurosawa films that influenced him or the pulp sci-fi stories star wars pays homage to. From the moment Leia Organa appears in A new hopeblasting the Imperial Guards and fending off Darth Vader’s interrogations, she carries the spirit of these women both in her refusal to yield and in the echo of their attire, showing that she was no damsel in distress.
Carrie Fisher herself had noted (via BBC) how Lucas”wanted a fighter; he wanted someone independent.” By giving Leia such a distinct look in A new hope with the “cinnamon bun” hairstyle, George Lucas manages not only to evoke history, but to create an easily imitated feminist icon, transforming the hair into a symbol of all the characteristics to which Fisher refers and a reminder to the fighters of the past, any girl or woman, either by a wig or a few tricks with their hair, could become a rebel leader and a Jedi.
After A new hopethe buns are not seen again on Leia, though echoes of the Hopi style return in the prequel, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, where his mother Padmé Amidala sports double curls, resembling photos taken of the Hopi by Edward S. Curtis in the early 1900s. Similarly, Carrie Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, also wears the classic buns during her appearance as a lieutenant in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The hairstyle originally inspired by older generations of fighters has now transferred to multiple generations of fighters in the star wars universe.
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