Sketchbooks of British artist who designed outfits of Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and the Star Wars Stormtroopers are to go up for auction for £300,000 following his death aged 86
- John Mollo created costumes for many of the most iconic characters in Star Wars including Darth Vader
- Mr Mollo died aged 86 last year and items from his career are being sold at London auctioneers Bonhams
- They include his sketchbook from April 1975 to July 1976 when the first Star Wars film was in production
Sketchbooks belonging to a British costume designer who created the famous outfits in the original Star Wars trilogy are being put up for auction for £300,000.
John Mollo, who died aged 86 last year, created costumes for many of the films most iconic characters such as Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Obi Wan Kenobi.
He also designed the iconic white and black uniforms worn by Stormtroopers as well as TIE Fighter and X-wing pilots.
A treasure trove of items from his career are being sold at London auctioneers Bonhams by his family including notes and his sketchbook.
John Mollo created the famous outfits in the original Star Wars trilogy. Two of his sketchbooks are being sold by his family for £300,000. Picture shows a double page of detailed sketches of ‘Imperial Death Star Gunner’ from Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope
Mollo used his sketchbook from April 1975 to July 1976 when the first Star Wars film was in production. The sketch shows John’s concept for the Stormtrooper costume
John Mollo pictured with Natalie Wood and Darth Vader at the 50th Academy Awards in 1978, holding his Oscar for Best Costume Design
An initial concept sketch for ‘Darth Vader’ from Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope
They include his sketchbook from April 1975 to July 1976 when the first Star Wars film was in production.
It contains the first hand-drawn costume designs for Harrison Ford’s Han Solo character and Chewbacca.
His sketch of Obi Wan Kenobi was drawn before Sir Alec Guinness was officially cast and so depicts the character as being much broader than in the film.
Darth Vader also differs from the final edition and had a much larger back to his helmet, which sloped down his neck.
Several of the drawings include handwritten annotations, including one in which he details what colour and material he envisaged the costumes of Stormtroopers should be.
The snippets included one label that reads ‘black webbing for straps’ and another that said ‘Laura Ashley black and white pattern’ when describing the helmet.
The book also served as Mr Mollo’s personal production and development diary, containing pages of costume budgets, production and meeting notes with director George Lucas.
A pen and ink sketch of ‘Chewbacca’ with side profile drawings of his head. The design was used in Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope
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Sketches of Rebel Officers from Star Wars Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
The fascinating sketchbooks contain costume designs for Chewbacca (left) and Princess Leia
Sketches of the Bounty Hunter Zuckuss from Star Wars Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Pre-production sketches showing Princess Leia in her white hooded gown. Mr Mollo died aged 86 last year
A second sketchbook from between 1978 to 1979 includes costume designs for second Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back.
Katherine Schofield, head of entertainment memorabilia, said: ‘John Mollo created costumes that elevated characters to cult cinematic status and this highly important archive of his notes and sketches demonstrates how brilliantly the designer merged fantasy and practicality.
‘These sketchbooks are a unique part of cinema history and in my experience I have seen nothing like this before.
‘They will have immense appeal to collectors and we’re expecting the sale to go very well.’
Mr Mollo was first commissioned by George Lucas to create outfits for Star Wars in 1975.
Lucas was keen to avoid the stereotypical space-age look of earlier science fiction and instead asked him to focus his designs on ‘the pivotal concept of light versus darkness’.
The director also tasked him with convincing the reluctant Sir Alex Guinness to play the part of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
These designs were used to create costumes for Star Wars Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Sketches detail the finalised Imperial AT-AT (‘Walker’) pilot costume for Star Wars Episode V
Darth Vader’s helmet was inspired by the helmets worn by Nazi soldiers during WWII
A full page black ink design for an ‘Imperial Sandtrooper’ from Star Wars Episde IV – A New Hope
The sketchbooks include the first hand-drawn costume designs for Harrison Ford’s Han Solo character
A list of costume styles for certain characters, including Luke, Darth Vader and Chewbacca from Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope
Two pages featuring six coloured pencil near-final designs for Rebel crew including; ‘X-Wing Pilots’, ‘Fleet Troopers’, ‘Ground Crew’ and ‘Ancillary Rebels’
A pre-production sketch of Princess Leia in her white hooded gown (left)
Mr Mollo recalled that it wasn’t until he showed the actor his designs of a monastic brown cloak that he managed to talk him round.
Tom Mollo, Mr Mollo’s son, said: ‘This collection is a very personal insight into my father’s creative process.
‘As these wonderful sketches demonstrate, he was a man of boundless imagination, but he never forgot the practical side of costume design – that actors had to be able to move and breathe and speak their lines.
‘We can see him wrestling with these issues in his designs and, of course, producing the wonderful solutions that gave life to the characters and have made them recognised and loved the world over.
‘My father once said with typical understatement, ‘I think on the whole I did a good job.’ History has surely proved him right.’
The sale takes place on December 11.
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