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Dunes stars loved (and hated) their iconic still suits

dune has given so much to pop culture: giant sandworms, the litany against fear, “spice” as a drug metaphor and the still suit. One of the ideas that Frank Herbert paid special attention to in his notes and his 1965 novel was the still suit, an outfit designed to retain and recycle the wearer’s body moisture. In his books, Stillsuits lets Herbert tell a story about survival in the most dangerous environment – a merciless, planet-wide desert that also gets people high. (Most importantly, you can put on a still suit instead of taking it off when nature calls.)

For the breathtaking film adaptation of Denis Villeneuve, the costume designers Jacqueline West and Bob Morgan had done their job. Unlike much of the wardrobe in the film – the Atreides House’s dark wool suits or the Harkonnen’s insect-inspired clothing – stillsuits are an important part of the lore, detailed in both the novels and Herbert’s notes. The still suit was, according to Morgan, the “centerpiece costume” of the film. It had to look good on all of the cast and possibly be functional enough that the cast wouldn’t hate wearing it during production in the real Jordanian desert.

West and Morgan did the former with flying colors: the stillsuits look great on screen. The latter, they said Polygon, got some mixed results.

“You know, I’ve heard different actors say different things,” says Morgan with a laugh. “I heard an interview with Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem. [Bardem] said ‘oh my god i’m so good I loved it. I loved wearing it. ‘ And Josh Brolin says to him: ‘I don’t know which one you have!’ “

Stilgar joins the Council of Duke Leto in Dune (2021)

Image: Warner Bros./HBO Max

Create according to West duneStillsuits was an incredibly elaborate process that began with long conversations with concept artist Keith Christensen and a prototype by sculptor Jose Fernandez. Teams of artists worked on every aspect of the final suit, which included 125 sample pieces.

“It’s not like a try-on for a contemporary film where Meryl Streep comes up and talks about the costume and what it could be, and is it awkward?” Says Morgan. “It had to suit everyone at Timothée [Chalamet] after Rebecca [Ferguson] to Jason Momoa. And so is the size range – you see it like a sliding scale, every shape and size has to look good and be comfortable and do stunts.

“When Timothée first put it on, he thought, ‘Oh my god, this is amazing!’ and it landed like a spider on the ground – because it moves very fluidly and very agile. And Rebecca had fights too, and she immediately did roundhouse kicks and spun around. It helped us. We learned with them. “

Both West and Morgan emphasize how much of their conception of dune‘s future wardrobe was inspired by the past – not just aesthetically, but in the way future people would adapt to life in the desert, as they always have. The designers looked at how people in Morocco and Jordan dress for the desert. You looked at the Bedouin culture and wardrobe, and it was a matter of life and death – a question that is likely to be relevant to more and more people, given the Earth’s changing climate.

“It was such a prophetic piece dune. ”West says. “With all the temperatures this summer and forest fires – you could imagine still suits going into production.”

Dune: part one is currently in theaters and on HBO Max.

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