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“The buns are tired now,” Carrie Fisher declared at Star Wars: Celebration this spring. She was speaking of her iconic Princess Leia hairstyle, which has been retired for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But the original Star Wars star promised fans “an alternate thing that I think you’ll be into.” On Sunday, that “alternate thing” was partially revealed on the official Force Awakens poster: a gravity-defying updo that takes Leia’s coiffure to a whole new level, literally. Here’s a look back at Princess Leia’s hair in all four movies, along with the story behind the styles.
Death Star Hair, A New Hope
“I was a little afraid of it,” Fisher told The Making of Star Wars author J.W. Rinzler about that side buns that became her most memorable Leia look. The product of lots of experimentation by hairdresser Pat McDermott (“I had at least 30 hairdos tried on me,” Fisher recalled), this one received instant approval from director and creator George Lucas. The unusual style was inspired by photographer Edward S. Curtis’s portraits of Native American women — this one and this one seem likely candidates — as well as pictures of Pancho Villa’s rebel women. Fisher remained uncertain about her hairdo throughout the shoot, particularly when it came time to swing across the Death Star chasm with Luke Skywalker. “I was… afraid my hair was going to fall off,” she admitted.
Medal Ceremony Hair, A New Hope
George Lucas and hairdresser McDermott collaborated on this last-minute ‘do for the final scene, which they dubbed the “hot plate special.” In addition to the braid coiled on top of Fisher’s head, there’s a longer braid hanging down her back.
Hoth Hair, The Empire Strikes Back
While she’s in the snowy rebel base, Leia’s hair is pulled back from her face and wrapped into two long braids, woven together to encircle her head like a halo. Guess there’s not much to do on Hoth except braid…
Bespin Hair, The Empire Strikes Back
Leia’s hair becomes softer and less severe over the course of the first three films. Her Cloud City look consists of looped braids on either side of her head, with a swept-up bun in the back.
Helmet Hair, Return of the Jedi
Disguised as an Ubese bounty hunter, Leia rescues Han Solo from his carbonite prison — and her hair is obviously the last thing on her mind. Underneath her helmet, Leia’s hair is tied back in a simple, utilitarian style.
Jabba’s Palace Hair, Return of the Jedi
Leia’s second most-imitated hairstyle is the one that she wears as Jabba’s slave: a braid wrapped into a bun at the top of her head and secured in an elaborate Tatooinian hair clip, with a long braid dangling to her waist.
Battle of Endor Hair, Return of the Jedi
A more organic-looking version of the hair Leia wore in the Battle of Hoth, this one is also two long braids wrapped around her head. The braids meet in a bun at the nape of her neck and are woven with what appears to be a thin strip of leather cord.
Ewok Village Hair, Return of the Jedi
When Leia stays at the Ewok village, she lets down her hair. One long braid, woven with leather cord, remains; the rest flows freely past her shoulders. For Fisher, this was too dramatic a change. “My hair was down and I’m wearing this hippie dress… I felt like a Barbie doll,” she said in The Making of Return of the Jedi. “And I got insecure. I felt really uncomfortable.”
The Force Awakens
We can’t get the full effect of Princess Leia’s new hair from the Force Awakens poster, since Fisher is shown only in three-quarter profile and is partially hidden by co-star Harrison Ford. However, we’ve seen enough to know that it is epic: a high knotted bun that brings to mind images of Mozart in Amadeus, Debbie Harry in Hairspray, the wicked stepmother in Cinderella, and the Martian girl from Mars Attacks.
Watch a video about the cast appearances at ‘Star Wars’ Celebration: