By  on September 19, 2005

Diehard "Star Wars" fans were in the fashion flock that swarmed George Lucas Thursday night for autographs and photographs before Thursday's "Designing the Galaxy" fashion show at the Ziegfeld Theater, and he happily obliged — anything to ensure they'd give a good gander to Trisha Biggar's costumes on the runway.

Before the lights went down and John Williams' Academy Award-winning score kicked up, Lucas said, "The world of fashion design is an art form, but opera, movies and theater [costumes] are sort of a nonfocused end of that. I hope people will see there is this other end of fashion that shouldn't be ignored."

Even when the movie screen backdrop showed static instead of "Star Wars" clips, Lucas was unfazed. "They'll get it," he whispered to former Jedi Hayden Christensen, who sat beside him. At times the film's creator seemed as delighted by the show as his fervent fans, applauding with them and occasionally explaining design techniques to Christensen.

"It's a kimono type thing. The queen had to walk a certain way," he said of an elaborate fur-trimmed gown for Natalie Portman's character Queen Amidala.

With his ghoulish mask and his textured jersey and felted wool outfit, "Nute Gunray" was a crowd pleaser, as was the "Wookie" with its dreadlocks and the "Neimoidian Gunner" with its ribbed bodywear and an armor breastplate with 40 interconnecting pieces. Often the closer the models got to the end of the runway, the more the crowd marveled at the costumes.

For the final film in the prequel trilogy, "Episode III, Revenge of the Sith," $800,000 was spent on costumes for about 1,000 outfits, but the cost of labor made up the bulk of that figure, Lucas said. He praised Biggar repeatedly for ferreting out "real craftsmen" to handle the embroidery, beading and other waning trades.

Before the show, Frank Oz, the voice of Yoda as well as such roles in "The Muppets" as Miss Piggy and The Swedish Chef, said he was eager to see the "glorious" costumes in person, especially the ones he never saw while shooting. "I didn't wear a costume but Yoda did," Oz said. "It had a wonderful, monkish feel. It was a Zen-master feeling."As for what intrigues all those fans, Lucas said, "'Star Wars' strikes a chord they relate to. The films are based on mythological motifs and things that have worked psychologically for years and years. I think the ultimate underlying psychology is that we haven't changed emotionally at all. We have changed a little bit intellectually, but not emotionally."

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