'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Costume Designer Michael Kaplan on Creating Carrie Fisher's Final Looks (Exclusive)

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If you're anything like us, you're probably still obsessing over Star Wars: The Last Jedi!

And more specifically, all those amazing costumes.

ET spoke with the film's costume designer, Michael Kaplan, ahead of the Costume Designers Guild Awards, where he shared secrets about what went into creating Episode VIII's most iconic looks.

Kaplan explained that when he first signed on to The Last Jedi, director Rian Johnson told him he wanted Carrie Fisher's character, Leia Organa, to look more elegant.

"One of the biggest challenges was getting used to a new director and his style, and finding out what his priorities were," said Kaplan, who also designed the costumes for the J.J. Abrams-directed The Force Awakens. "The way Rian saw the episode, he was adding a lot more humor and color and a certain kind of liveliness that we haven't seen before in Star Wars."

"For Leia, Rian wanted a more regal character -- he wanted her to be more princess-like," he added. "So, we added jewelry. We kept one of her rings and the same earrings, just in a different finish, from Episode VII, and kind of continued to build on that. We gave her more rings and bracelets."

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And of course, those amazing capes! Kaplan said he loves to create costumes that can be worn in different ways, to not only make them more interesting, but to extend the amount of looks it can have during screen time. Which is exactly how Leia's iconic high-collar look came to be.

"I thought the capes were a good idea because they framed her so nicely. They said it all -- they just added that regal quality," he shared. "I thought that it would be nice if we could use the cape in different ways. When I showed Rian what it looked like with the collar up, he said, 'I have just the scene for that.'"

If you've seen The Last Jedi, then you know exactly what scene Kaplan is talking about:

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Kaplan also opened up to ET about what it's like knowing now that he's the one who created Fisher's final looks for the franchise. He said he and Fisher, who died in December 2016, developed a close friendship over the years, and he knew she was "very happy" and "very comfortable" with his costume choices.

"Carrie and I had become close friends. I knew her before the film, but we became close friends because we worked together on two episodes," he said. "We knew each other back in Los Angeles, so we'd hang out, we'd go to dinner, I'd visit her in her hotel, go to the theater together. I was pretty close with her, as well as her daughter, Billie [Lourd], and the whole family for quite some time."

"When she passed away it was pretty devastating," he continued. "Shortly afterward, I got an email from Rian saying that he was editing the film, and he said, 'I know you haven't seen Carrie on film yet, I'm still editing it,' but he said, 'I'm so happy you were her costume designer, you made her look so wonderful for her last film.' That made me feel very proud and it was a nice sentiment from him."

Later in our interview, Kaplan revealed interesting details about another prominent female character's look: Vice Admiral Holdo, portrayed by Laura Dern. He told us her hair was originally not supposed to be purple!

"Personally, I didn't think purple hair was very Star Wars," he admitted. "I wanted her to have kind of silver hair, which I thought would be really, really beautiful and elegant. But she thought it would look kind of like gray hair, and she wasn't really thrilled with the idea. I think it was Rian who said, 'Well, why don't we have the hair match the dress.' So, that's how that came about."

Lucasfilm Ltd.

In addition to all the main actors and actresses he had to dress, Kaplan said designing costumes for the extras in the Canto Bight scene, as well as the caretaker creatures, was just as big of an undertaking.

Speaking specifically about the fish-like anthropomorphic amphibians, he said, "The creatures are made in a different department, with animatronics and they're molded -- there's a lot of things that go into the creatures."

"They're painted, their flesh tones are done, but they do come to me naked and I have to dress them as well," he said, laughing. "Neil [Scanlan] does this wonderful job creating these creatures, but then I have to figure out a way to dress them all in their very strange shapes and sizes."

Although it's been two months since Last Jedi was released in theaters, fans are still picking up on secret cameos. Obviously, we had to ask Kaplan if he's hidden anywhere in the movie.

"No. I am not," he revealed. "But I am hidden in the pages of Vanity Fair. When Annie Leibovitz came to do her shoot, she insisted I get into the shot in the large Canto Bight set. I'm hiding among the folds, so it's kind of like a 'Where's Waldo?' moment."

Vanity Fair

But could Kaplan, who is already working on the costume designs for Episode IX, ever make a cameo?

"Perhaps," he said. "I chose a career behind the cameras, pretty shy, not much for putting myself out there as an actor, so I don't know. It would have to be discussed."

Hear more from our exclusive interview -- including Episode IX teasers, the inspiration behind Snoke's stylish gold robe, Kaplan's thoughts on shirtless Kylo Ren and so much more! -- in ET's latest episode of Behind the Screens, below:


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