- "It was like steel, not steel, but hard plastic, and if you stood behind me you could see straight to Florida. You'll have to ask Boba Fett about that."
- ―Carrie Fisher
The Slave Leia costume refers to the bikini-style outfit worn by Princess Leia Organa when she was captured by Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi. The costume was worn by actress Carrie Fisher and stuntwoman Tracy Eddon and was created by costume designers Aggie Guerard Rodgers and Nilo Rodis-Jamero, inspired by the works of fantasy artist Frank Frazetta's Egyptian Queen. Star Wars creator George Lucas requested the costume in part based on Fisher's complaints about the lack of interesting costumes in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
The costume has gained a huge fan following since the 1983 release of Return of the Jedi. Hundreds of female fans wear home-made and store-bought versions of the costume at science fiction conventions, many of whom post pictures of themselves on the popular fansite, Leia's Metal Bikini. Variations of the costume have been worn by characters in other Star Wars mediums, like Diva Shaliqua in The Phantom Menace, Zam Wesell in Star Wars: Jango Fett, and the Jedi Exile in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. The costume has also made several pop culture appearances outside of the Star Wars universe, such as when it was worn by Jennifer Aniston in the television sitcom Friends, by Yvonne Strahovski in the TV show Chuck, and Kristen Bell in Fanboys.
- "She's in robes all the time, and then it's just like, 'That's what's under those robes? Holy smokes.'"
- ―Jon Abrahams
The costume was worn in scenes at Jabba's Palace, aboard the Luxury sail barge Khetanna and during the skirmish at the Great Pit of Carkoon. Jabba Desilijic Tiure, the Hutt crime lord, forced Leia Organa to wear the costume after capturing her during her failed attempt to rescue the enslaved Han Solo. Like other scantily-clad dancers previously in his service, the imprisoned Leia was forced to lay before Jabba, kept in place by a chain held by the Hutt. Jabba kept her in this submissive position in front of all his subjects and henchmen as a means of humiliating the princess. After only one day of imprisonment, however, Organa used the same chain that imprisoned her to strangle Jabba the Hutt to death.
Conception and creation
Princess Leia Organa's slave costume was created partially in response to complaints by Carrie Fisher about the lack of interesting costumes her character wore in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Fisher felt one could not tell "she was a woman" from the wardrobe, and said of it years later, "I got one, sorry, two dresses, and the first one (looks) the same all the way around." Star Wars creator George Lucas gave the Return of the Jedi costume department only general instructions when it came to Princess Leia Organa's slave costume, but it was clear to them he wanted something special for the outfit; costume designer Aggie Guerard Rodgers recalled, "His eyes started sparkling when we talked about it."The costume was inspired by the works of Frank Frazetta, a fantasy artist who often concentrated on the female form. The outfit was first developed in sketches by Nilo Rodis-Jamero, the Jedi costume designer who previously served as assistant art director of visual effects for The Empire Strikes Back. Rodgers then built the costume as part of the Industrial Light & Magic visual effects company. Sculptor Richard Miller also helped with the costume; veteran ILM model-maker Lorne Peterson brought Miller aboard for Jedi after he viewed several of Peterson's private sculptures and realized they were very similar to the Leia slave costume they were developing.
The costume designers made a mold of Carrie Fisher's torso so it could be designed to a custom fit. Rodgers and the staff created multiple versions of the outfit to accommodate different scenes in the film, including a hard metal piece for scenes in which Fisher remained still, and a rubber outfit she and stuntwoman Tracy Eddon could wear comfortably while performing stunts; Eddon wore the latter costume when she swung from Jabba's sail barge with Mark Hamill's stunt double, Colin Skeaping. The outfit was lined with leather so it would not chafe Fisher's body. Rodgers originally wanted the costume's fabrics to be twenty-five yards long and flow throughout Jabba's palace, but the costume department could not make the concept work. Regarding fans who want to make their own slave Leia costume, Rodgers said, "There's a lot of stretchy fabric out there. I would use rubberized material from anywhere. And hand stitch it so there are no big explosions when you're walking about."
Carrie Fisher and crew reaction
- "I remember that iron bikini I wore in Episode VI: what supermodels will eventually wear in the seventh ring of hell."
- ―Carrie Fisher
Prior to the filming of Return of the Jedi, Lucas invited Fisher to San Francisco to show her a picture of the costume. Fisher said he showed her the picture "to frighten me into exercise, I think. He succeeded." Fisher was also asked to tone her body in such a way that she would have no lines or wrinkles around her waist for her scenes in which she sat up straight in front of Jabba.
In the 1990s, Carrie Fisher would show Return of the Jedi to her daughter, Billie Catherine Lourd, who fell asleep the first time she saw it. During her first scenes in the slave costume, Fisher said she thought, "Oh my God, there is me with the good body," and tried to wake her, saying, "You are going to get this body, so pay attention." Despite her daughter's indifference, Fisher later said in a Star Wars Insider interview, "but it's not a bad body to get, and of course I didn't know that at the time (of filming). We were all younger then."
One of the moldmakers became extremely excited to learn that he would be doing the body-casting of Carrie Fisher and talked about it every day. The production department became concerned about the situation and, at the last minute, gave the job to another moldmaker. Peterson recalled, "If he had just kept his mouth shut and not been so enthusiastic, they would have let him go through with it." Similarly, Rodgers said many of the Return of the Jedi crew were men who "really enjoyed being on the set" during Fisher's scenes with the costume.
Filming Return of the Jedi
- "Most of the crew are men, and they really enjoyed being on the set."
- ―Aggie Guerard Rodgers
Princess Leia wears the costume in Return of the Jedi for exactly 150 seconds of combined screen time, including facial closeups and shots of stunt doubles and visual effect images. Prior to the theatrical release of Return of the Jedi, artist Kazuhiko Sano was hired to create the "Style B" poster, the first Jedi poster to feature a collage of characters. Sano was given no specific art direction, and his original sketches were largely accepted by Lucasfilm with few changes. The only specific request officials made to Sano was to replace an existing image of Leia Organa with one of the princess wearing her slave costume.
Carrie Fisher also donned the suit on the cover of an August 1983 issue of Rolling Stone, to publicize the magazine's interview with George Lucas entitled "Star Wars Goes on Vacation." The cover photo, shot by photographer Aaron Rapoport, includes Leia Organa sitting on a towel at a beach, laughing and holding hands with an Ewok; standing behind them are Darth Vader holding a boombox and a Gamorrean guard holding a beach ball.
- "Jabba put her into the outfit to humiliate her, but Leia was such a strong character, her will made the costume empowering."
- ―Amira Sa'id
Leia's Metal Bikini, a fansite dedicated specifically to Leia's slave costume, was launched in May 2002. The site was created and is maintained by Jamin Fite, who said he was inspired after he saw a photo of a female fan dressed in the costume; prior to that, Fite said, "I didn't even know girls were into Star Wars." The site includes images, video clips, information about where to buy a costume, instructions on how to build one, and pictures of more than 280 female fans dressed in the costume. The site has been featured on such television channels as G4 and Spike and such magazines as Wired. During a broadcast from Celebration IV, Spike television personality Nicole Malgarini (wearing the Slave Leia costume herself) referred to Fite as the "slavemaster" and "the pimp of Star Wars.
The website of Maxim, an international men's magazine, ranked Leia Organa in the slave costume the #1 "hottest nerd crush" and referred to it as "the nerd-universe equivalent of Phoebe Cates doffing her top in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Organa outranked such fictional characters as Dana Scully from The X-Files, Trinity from The Matrix, Lara Croft from Tomb Raider and Sharon Valerii from Battlestar Galactica. Carrie Fisher donning the slave suit in Jedi ranked second in a 2008 World Entertainment News Network poll for the most inspirational bikini moment; first place went to Ursula Andress as Honey Rider emerging from the sea in the first film in the James Bond series, 1962's Dr. No. Fisher in the slave costume also ranked number three in a list of top ten jaw dropping moments in a September 2008 issue of Star Wars Insider.
E! Entertainment Television ranked Carrie Fisher's slave costume scenes in Return of the Jedi at number sixteen in its August 2007 television special, "25 Most Memorable Swimsuit Moments." Several celebrities commented on the outfit during the E! special. Swimsuit designer Lisa Curran said the popularity of Leia's slave costume demonstrates the allure and popularity of the bikini swimsuit, even in a science fiction setting. Joel Stein, a Los Angeles Times columnist, said the costume demonstrates how the power of clothing and circumstances can change a viewer's perception of a person who had not previously been considered attractive; Stein said, "It's like, 'We didn't think of Princess Leia sexually. Oh! Chain her up to a really disgusting creature? We've got a hard-on." Actor Jon Abrahams said, "She's in robes all the time, and then it's just like, 'That's what's under those robes? Holy smokes.'" Stand-up comedienne Chelsea Handler said, "Carrie Fisher had a great body back then, and she had to, because she was wearing cinnamon buns for ears throughout the entire shoot of Star Wars." Comedians Randy and Jason Sklar joked that Jabba, not Leia, looked attractive in that scene, and Sklar said, "He was Jared from Subway before Jared from Subway was Jared from Subway." Celebrity stylist Peter Ishkans joked that the costume probably sexually aroused Chewbacca.
Various celebrities have also been shown wearing the costume. One prominent example was Melissa Joan Hart, the star of the shows Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, who was photographed wearing the outfit during a costume party. Kerri Kasem, a radio and television host, has been photographed wearing the costume, and actress/model Phoebe Price wore it at the San Diego Comic-Con International in 2010. Adrianne Curry, the first winner of the reality series America's Next Top Model, wore the costume to a 2010 Star Wars convention in Orlando, Florida. A drunken man reached up her skirt and groped her as she wore the costume, and she reported the incident to the police.
Other Star Wars appearances
- "You do recognize me. I wasn't sure you would, given my state…of undress."
- ―Zam Wesell
A variation of the slave costume appeared in another Star Wars film sixteen years after the release of Return of the Jedi. Diva Shaliqua, a slave of Jabba the Hutt who appears briefly in the Boonta Eve Podrace scene of The Phantom Menace in 1999, wore an almost identical costume as that of Princess Leia.  References to the costume have also appeared frequently in the Expanded Universe. In the 2002 comic Star Wars: Jango Fett, written by Ron Marz, bounty hunter Zam Wesell wears a similar garment during the Infant of Shaa incident. Like Leia Organa and Diva Shaliqua, Wesell wears the costume in the presence of a Hutt. She wore the outfit in order to seduce Dreddon, a Hutt criminal with a bounty on his head; once the two were alone together, Wesell successfully killed him. 
The costume made a brief appearance in Kevin Rubio's 2006 comic The Return of Tag & Bink: Special Edition, a parody of Return of the Jedi, where Leia can be seen wearing it just prior to the Skirmish at Carkoon. It also appeared later that year on the cover of Tag & Bink Were Here, a collection of the combined works of Rubio and Lucas Marangon, which showed Leia wearing the costume while chasing after Tag Greenley and Bink Otauna. Lastly, it appeared in the prequel Tag & Bink: Revenge of the Clone Menace, with a female customer of Dex's Diner wearing it.
The costume is alluded to in Shield of Lies, the second novel in the Black Fleet Crisis trilogy. Nanaod Engh, the First Administrator of the New Republic's General Ministry, tries to encourage Chief of State Princess Leia to buff up her public image, to which Leia responds, "Now you want me to give interviews? What next? … Let myself be recorded dancing for Han in a Huttese slave-girl costume?" Earlier in that novel, Luke Skywalker visited a bar called Jabba's Throne Room, a faithful replica of the room in Jabba's palace. Luke notes many of the waitresses are scantily-clad, and upon hearing the name Leia, he fears the evening's entertainment would be "a dance by a slave-girl-Leia look-alike."
The outfit also appeared in a vision Leia Organa Solo experienced in Planet of Twilight, the third novel in what is often called the Callista trilogy. Leia Organa Solo, in her struggle to come to terms with her Force powers, experiences a vision of herself having followed two possible alternate fates. In one, she is the Empress of the Galactic Empire, having ascended the throne of Palpatine. In the other, she is huddled submissively at the foot of that throne wearing the slave costume she was forced to wear by Jabba. In that vision, she appears to have given up: she sobs, her eyes are downcast and she looks beaten and defeated. When the Empress Leia stands, her robe is drawn back and she is revealed to also be wearing the golden bikini costume, but it is instead worn as a symbol of strength and power, with shining gold and flashing jewels. The Empress Leia treats the Slave Leia roughly, as a symbol of the differences between the two possible alternatives.
Leia's slave costume has also made appearances in several Star Wars video games in the 21st century. It appears in Star Wars Galaxies, the 2003 massively multiplayer online role-playing game, as a craftable item that can be made in a range of colors and worn by female player-characters. The suit is also worn by the Jedi Exile in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords when she dances for Vogga the Hutt on Nar Shaddaa. The garment is called "dancer's outfit" in the 2004 game. The slave costume can also be unlocked for the Princess Leia character in LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, the 2006 Lego-themed Star Wars LucasArts game; in the Xbox version, if the player holds down the B button on the controller while playing as the slave-suited Leia, she will start to dance by swinging her hips and waving her arms in the air.
In George Lucas in Love, a 1999 student film portraying a young George Lucas conceiving Star Wars at film school, an attractive woman in a yellow bikini feeds a shirtless, obese man who laughs in a similar way to Jabba the Hutt; although the rest of the woman's outfit did not resemble Carrie Fisher's costume, the scene is portrayed as the inspiration for the slave outfit. In "Hunt for Ziro", the ninth episode of the third season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, several Twi'lek dancers wore outfits similar Leia's slave outfit. While some were golden like Leia's original, others were bronze and copper.
Appearances in pop culture
FriendsThe third season premiere of the hit sitcom Friends revolved largely around a sexual fantasy Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) harbors about Princess Leia in her slave costume. The episode, titled "The One with the Princess Leia Fantasy," was written by Michael Curtis and Gregory S. Malins, and first aired on September 19, 1996. Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) asked her boyfriend Ross whether he has any fantasies, and he reluctantly admits the "gold bikini thing" Leia wears in Return of the Jedi "was pretty cool." Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) later confirms to Rachel that she is familiar with the popular fantasy and has worn the costume herself; Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) also confirms to Ross that he, too, had the same fantasy. At the end of the episode, Rachel wears a replica of the Princess Leia slave uniform and tries to seduce Ross. His fantasy, however, is ruined when he unwittingly visualizes his mother dressed in the suit, due to a conversation earlier in the episode in which Chandler said sex is sometimes ruined for him when he pictures his mother at inopportune moments. George Lucas reportedly sent the Friends production team a letter complimenting and congratulating them on the episode.
The costume, as well as a parody of Jabba the Hutt, were featured briefly in an episode from the second season of Family Guy. The episode, titled "He's Too Sexy for His Fat," first aired on June 27, 2000, involves character Chris Griffin becoming self-conscious about his weight problem. Chris's father, Peter, assures Chris he is not fat, but that he comes from "a long line of husky Griffins" like his great-great uncle "Jabba the Griffin." The episode then cuts for a few seconds to a scene in what appears to be Jabba's Palace with a Hutt-like creature that looks like Jabba with Peter Griffin's hair, glasses, and chin. Jabba the Griffin is clutching a chain connected to a female slave wearing a variation of the slave Leia costume. The costume and veils, however, are silver rather than gold, and the costume bears little true resemblance to the actual outfit. In the ninth season episode "It's a Trap!", the role of Princess Leia is played by Lois Griffin, who dons the costume during the sequences as in the film. When Chris Griffin, portraying Luke, enters, he appears surprised, and she informs him "I wasn't raped, okay?". The costume itself is not referenced.
World of Warcraft
Princess Moira Bronzebeard, a level fifty-five elite dwarf character in the 2004 massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft, wears an outfit similar to Leia Organa's slave costume, and has a hairstyle identical to Leia's famous "cinnamon buns" hairdo. Like the slave costume, Bronzebeard's outfit includes a gold brassiere, steel armbands and a veils flowing from the front and back of the panty, although Bronzebeard's veils are larger than those of the Leia costume; it also includes steel designs between the brassiere and panty that are not part of the original costume. Within the game, Bronzebeard appears in the Blackrock Depths during a mission in which the player must kill her husband, Emperor Dagran Thaurissan. Bronzebeard assists Thaurissan by healing him during the battle. Killing Thaurissan and talking to Bronzebeard launches new quests for both of the game's major political factions, the Alliance and the Horde.
Two girls wear a costume identical to the slave Leia costume in the first season finale of the American Dad! cartoon. The episode, titled "Tears of a Clooney," first aired on May 14, 2006, and including a subplot in which Roger the Alien grows a vineyard in the back yard and adopts several foster children to tend to it like slaves. When Steve Smith complains about sharing a room with them, Roger assigns two attractive young ladies to serve as his personal assistants. At one point, Steve relaxes on a lawn chair while one of the girls fans him, and the other sits chained at his feet in a similar manner to Leia Organa in Return of the Jedi. When Child Protective Services comes to take the children away, the two girls briefly choke Steve with their chains in the same fashion in which Jabba the Hutt was killed. Steve says to them, "I let you kiss each other while I watched and this is how you repay me?"
Robot Chicken: Star Wars
The slave Leia costume makes a cameo during Robot Chicken: Star Wars, a Star Wars-themed special of the show Robot Chicken, which aired on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim on June 17, 2007. During one sketch, George Lucas attends a fan convention and is chased by an obsessive mob of fans dressed as various characters and aliens from the Star Wars films. One of the fans is an overweight woman wearing a replica of the Leia's slave bikini. Lucas is rescued from the mob by a nerd dressed as a Tauntaun. In its sequel, Leia takes off her outfit to reveal her slave outfit when lusting after Boba Fett in the opening scene, during a telling of the ultimate Star Wars fantasy from the nerd from episode 1.
Dancing with the Stars
During the fourth season of Dancing with the Stars, which aired in 2007, dancer Kym Johnson wore a slave Leia costume during her third week performance with singer Joey Fatone. They danced the tango to a remixed version of the "Star Wars Main Title"; Fatone was dressed in a Jedi Robe-style suit. The two performed a more polished version of the dance during the finals. The original performance can be seen on YouTube. People magazine called Johnson's costume one of thirteen most "outrageous getups" from the first six seasons of the show.
The sixth episode of Chuck, an action-comedy series about a nondescript computer-whiz-turned-spy, prominently features the slave Leia costume. The episode aired October 29, 2007. Sarah Walker, a Central Intelligence Agency spy played by Australian actress Yvonne Strahovski, gives protagonist Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) an engineered photo of the two of them dressed as Han Solo and Princess Leia in the slave costume, at a comic book convention. The photo serves as a cover story that the two are in a romantic relationship; Chuck likes the photo, but laments that the two had never been to a real convention together and are not a real couple. During a Halloween party at the end of the episode, Sarah appears wearing her own slave Leia costume, much to the delight of Chuck and the other male guests. Chuck and Sarah take another, genuine photo of each other together in the costumes. When Chuck asks Sarah where she got the costume, she replies, "Oh, the CIA can make anything."
Deal or No Deal
The Leia Organa slave costume was featured prominently in the Star Wars-themed episode of television game show Deal or No Deal on April 28, 2008. Contestants in the show choose monetary values from numbered suitcases in order to try to win the most money, and the suitcases are opened by supermodels wearing different outfits in each episode. In this episode, the models wore slave Leia costumes; the show also included appearances from Imperial stormtroopers, R2-D2, Chewbacca, George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, and the Banker being replaced by Darth Vader.
Bring Back…Star Wars
The slave Leia costume was featured in the opening seconds of the Star Wars episode of Bring Back…, a comedic British television series in which host Justin Lee Collins locates and interviews people from music, TV or film backgrounds and tries to reunite them for a performance or reinvent their previous works. The episode, which aired September 14, 2008, begins with Collins sitting on a couch in his underwear, pretending to be Jabba the Hutt. Famous Slave Leia model Christy Marie dressed in an exact replica of Leia's costume sits upright on the floor, attached to a chain held by Collins. After a brief introduction to the episode, Collins speaks in Huttese to Christy, then pretends to pull her closer and laughs like Jabba. Christy makes a disgusted reaction and noise similar to the one Carrie Fisher made when Jabba extends his tongue toward her in Return of the Jedi. Later in the episode, Collins interviewed Carrie Fisher, who talked about the lack of double-sided tape in wearing the bikini; Fisher also joked that George Lucas currently has the bikini and "he wears it all the time, and he just won't let anybody else have it." Collins also joked to Fisher, "That bikini, I'm blind in my left eye, and that's because of you."
FanboysActress Kristen Bell donned the slave Leia costume in the 2009 film Fanboys, a comedy film about a group of friends who decide to break into Skywalker Ranch to steal an early print of The Phantom Menace. Photos released of Bell in the costume were met with great admiration from male fans in the blogosphere. Mike Sampson of JoBlo.com wrote of the Kristen Bell pictures, "Nerds, I hope you are sitting down. I also hope you're wearing clean underwear. The following will blow your Mountain Dew soaked brain," and Egotastic! bloggers wrote, "Princess Leia's Gold Bikini is arguably the hottest moment in all of Geekdom, and to have a girl like Kristen Bell filling out those gold chains is making my head explode."
- "Star Wars is based on nothing on Earth. It's all in outer space (but the costume) is showing no matter where you are, it's a bathing suit and men find it very attractive."
- ―Lisa Curran, swimsuit designer
Although the Kenner toy company released action figures of Princess Leia in various outfits after the theatrical release of Return of the Jedi, her slave costume was deemed too risque to warrant its own toy. The first slave Leia toy, which was called "Jabba's Prisoner," was not released until 1997 in Hasbro's "Power of the Force" collection. A deluxe version was released a few years later, packaged with a sail barge cannon and a fabric loincloth. A 6 3/4-inches tall and 11-inches wide statue was released by Gentle Giant Ltd. after a sneak peek at the 2006 Comic-Con International in San Diego, California. The Rubies Costumes company released a Princess Leia slave costume in 2008 as part of their "Secret Wishes" line of alluring women's costumes.
Artist David Johnson created a statuette of Princess Leia trapped in carbonite while wearing her slave costume. Only one version of the eight-inch tall polymer clay sculpture was made; it sold on eBay for $70.99 plus $10 shipping on June 3, 2008.Comic book artist Adam Hughes created a lithograph of Leia in the slave costume, sitting on Jabba's sail barge on Tatooine clutching a vibro-axe and surrounded by bowls of fruit. The image is a fake poster of a show hosted by "Jabba Cruises" called "Last Daughter of Alderaan," also starring "Sarlacc the Magnificent." Exactly 250 editions were created specifically for Celebration IV and sold for $349 each.
Craftster Sammi Resendes of the blog Geek Central Station created several amigurumi—crocheted small stuffed animals—inspired by Star Wars characters, including Han Solo, Chewbacca, Yoda, and Admiral Gial Ackbar. Among the amigurumi figures was a Princess Leia wearing a slave costume made from Sculpey polymer clay. Resendes said her boyfriend made the costume pieces, and that the Leia figure was particularly difficult to make. Savoir Hair, a website dedicated to creating hairstyles and outfits for the Internet-based virtual world Second Life, created an exact replica of Leia's slave costume, which can be purchased and worn within the massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Leia slave costumes have even been designed for pet dogs and previously sold on Amazon.com.
Notes and references
- Leia's Metal Bikini
- Official site of Amira Sa'id, Slave Leia bellydancer
- Wired News article: The Cult of Leia's Metal Bikini