The surprising origins of Princess Leia's buns

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Appearing in Star Wars: A New Hop back in 1977, Princess Leia’s buns only made one movie appearance throughout the entire Star Wars saga—and yet, they continue to live on as an icon in cinematic wardrobe.  But where did George Lucas find his inspiration?

In a 2002 interview, George Lucas revealed that he was on the hunt for a revolutionary look.  He said, “I went with a kind of Southwestern Pancho Villa woman… The buns are basically from turn-of-the-century Mexico.” 

It is likely that George Lucas was referencing Mexican Revolution colonel Clara de la Rocha.  She is known for leading a key 1911 battle in northern Mexico where she crossed a river on horseback and took out a power station in order to allow rebel forces to attack at night without being seen! 

While De la Rocha is photographed wearing this hairstyle despite its potential inconvenience, it’s likely that the true inspiration for Leia’s locks was the Native American Hopi Tribe.

A few years ago, a traveling exhibition called, “Star Wars and the Power of Costume” clarified Lucas’s inspiration using one of the director’s vision boards.  A visual representation of de la Rocha was, in fact, represented, along with the words “Mexican – Revolution – Hairstyles – Women,” accompanied by images of the Hopi women. Known as a “squash blossom,” the hairstyle worn by many women of the Hopi Tribe.

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