Star Wars Day is the perfect time to celebrate all things related to the galaxy far, far away. On this special day, TWG takes a closer look at the creative and glamorous Star Wars inspired designs from Alston Stephanus Accessories, a luxurious brand of finely crafted jewelry. Plus, an interview with accessories designer Alson Stephanus himself regarding his past works, his thoughts on men’s geek fashion, his plans for San Diego Comic-Con 2016, and what to expect from him in the future.
A Gown Fit for Queen Amidala Herself
Both extravagant and ornate, Padmé Amidala’s wardrobe continues to fascinate and inspire. Take the Kinjeng Gown designed and custom made by Alston Stephanus, for example. Worn by his friend, Heather Garlan, the gown was one of 15 designs selected to compete in the Star Wars category at the Disney D23 Expo 2015 Costume Competition.
What goes through your mind when you design and create these luxurious garments?
To show you what goes through my mind, here is part of my costume statement from the Expo: “Titled The Kinjeng Gown: ‘Kinjeng’ means dragonfly in Javanese. The dragonfly’s nimble flight gives it the ability to maneuver in all six directions, which simultaneously exhibits a sense poise and power. Queen Amidala wears her stately gowns with the pride and representation of her subjects from the planet Naboo. I envision her wearing this gown to a royal banquet for the Senate. Alluring like the dragonfly, Queen Amidala is beautiful and able to achieve great effectiveness with grace.” I am inspired constantly by nature, so combining a Star Wars character and a bug seemed very natural to me.
High Fashion Vader: Dressed to Impress
Darth Vader was not the most fashion forward character in the saga, but he certainly carried the most presence as did the gorgeous vintage and burlesque-styled Darth Vader garment Alston Stephanus designed for “The Masterpiece Strikes Back: A Fashion Exploration inspired by Star Wars” in Jakarta, where he was one of 16 designers to present.
From coming up with the design to the presentation on the runway, how was that experience like?
I was thrilled to have been asked to work with Disney Southeast Asia. I had a fanboy moment when they reached out to me to participate. They had chosen me, an accessories designer, among other Indonesian designers because I am a total geek and a huge Star Wars fan! I initially wanted to do Queen Amidala, since her wardrobe collection is immaculate, but I thought many designers would be using her as a base line because she is so mainstream. I decided to go old school instead. Darth Vader and the two iconic droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO, were designed with a 1930s vintage vibe to them. After sketching up a concept for a vintage female Darth Vader, Disney Southeast Asia had to then approve my design before I could make it. Also, finding the right model and the makeup artist to convey my specific vision was really important. Once the designed was approved, I chose Dessy Mulasari to be the model and Hendro Revco to do the hair and makeup. Everything came together perfectly that day I made sure to take it all in. It was a definite highlight moment for me.
Slave to Perfection
In collaboration with London-based tattoo artist L’ain Freefall, Alston Stephanus Accessories created a Slave Leia inspired photoshoot that combined sci-fi/fantasy with hints of his Chinese heritage. The photoshoot not only featured his stunning work as a designer, but it also highlighted Freefall’s exquisite tattoos–both complementing each other.
“Tattoos are permanent,” Freefall said in a separate interview with PHOENIX Magazine. “The person has made a choice and is committing to it. When you see the extent of work a person has, you can see how much time and care has been put into it. In history, tattoos were seen as healing or to mark of time in your life. It’s just amazing.”
You’re a massive Star Wars fan, as evidenced by the themes in your stunning collection. How were you first introduced to the franchise? And what are some of your favorite aspects from that universe?
I have an older sister and brother who are 10 and 8 years older than me, respectively. They are both massive Star Wars fans! I recall seeing their action figures and toys lying around the house when I was younger. Iconic character names, like Lord Vader and Princess Leia, were household names for my family. I was too young to understand who they all were, but as I got older, I realized I was drawn to one character in particular, R2-D2! I guess you can say I was introduced to the Star Wars franchise at birth.
Growing up in Jakarta and studying in London, how did you come to love fashion? What inspired you to pursue that area and combine it with Star Wars?
Yes, I was raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. I received a master’s degree in London and I am due to finish my second master’s program at the end of this year in New York. My love for fashion came unintentionally really. I always liked styling my friends for special occasions. Then, in 2005, a designer asked me to make accessories for his fashion show, and I have been designing ever since! Recently, I have begun to combine my love for fandom and fashion. This is the truest expression of my passion for design and I am so thankful to have found it.
Mega-R2: A Cosplay Mash-Up
Whether it’s Star Wars ponies or lightsabers in Game of Thrones, you’ll find Star Wars fused with almost everything today! At San Diego Comic-Con 2015, Alston combined two fan favorites: Mega Man and R2-D2. Not only was it an ingenious design, but it was also his first attempt at using acrylics and robotics.
I remember seeing pictures of your cosplay mash-up of R2-D2 and Mega Man circulating throughout social media. It’s spectacular! Could you give us a hint as to what you are planning to cosplay as at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con?
I have made some upgrades to the “Mega-R2” cosplay, so you will definitely see me in that again this year. I am also cosplaying as Hiro Hamada in his fight suit from Big Hero 6. My friends and I have decided to do a group cosplay of Peter Pan, as well. I have been working on a Victorian version of Peter Pan‘s Tick-Tock Crocodile. The character will have a tailcoat and top hat among other elements. And last but not least, my friends and I will cosplay as Minions because what’s not to like about them? I like to do a steampunk version, though!
A Vintage Look with Her Universe
While at San Diego Comic-Con 2015, Alston purchased the Hoth Pin-up Dress and X-wing Cardigan from the Her Universe booth and returned to his home in Jakarta, Indonesia, to create a galactic and vintage photoshoot. The result captured the beauty of these everyday wear garments and how far women’s geek fashion clothing has come over the past five years.
Unlike women’s geek fashion, men’s geek fashion has remained stagnant over the years, so as a male fan of Star Wars, what would you like to see change in that area?
Let me first start by explaining that my personal style is very dapper and vintage. I like to incorporate elements of that style into my cosplays and into my work, like in the photoshoot featuring Her Universe fashions. It is true that men’s geek fashion has been rather stagnant. It has dominated the market for so long and I believe that it is time women’s geek fashion step fully into the spotlight. Glamorous female geek fashion is on the rise, though, with events like the Geek Couture Fashion Show at San Diego Comic-Con. I would like to see men’s geek fashion take note of this and shift away from the average t-shirt and sweatshirt and into more sophisticated styles.
Fashion on the Horizon
Without a doubt, Alston Stephanus has been consistently serving up designs that take our breaths away. With an eye for detail, quality, and innovation, one can’t help but wonder what he’ll be doing next.
What are some projects you are currently working on and what can we hope to see from you in the future?
I am excited to be working towards creating my first exhibition in the Los Angeles area. At this time, I am in the beginning stages of exploring story ideas about the traditional Keraton (Javanese Royalty) mythical era. I want to elevate and modernize this genre by potentially incorporating a steampunk element. It is still very early in the developmental stages, so we will have to see where the process takes me. I also just drew up some sketches of a Victorian Darth Vader, Yoda, and Princess Leia. You never know where those designs might pop up in the future!