Michael Kaplan, the costume designer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, has also worked with director J.J. Abrams on other projects, including 2009’s Star Trek and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. During a recent conversation with Lev Grossman for TIME’s recent cover story, Kaplan offered his take on how the worlds of the two cult franchises differ.
TIME: I wonder if you could compare and contrast the feel of the costumes in the Star Trek universe with the feel of them in the Star Wars universe because those two worlds feel very different to me and I’m wondering if the clothes are part of it.
Kaplan: They’re very different. Star Wars is a fantasy and Star Trek is science fiction, and each has a very strong iconography and I think they’re very separate. On both films I had to discard really good ideas because they seemed as though they had come from the other world. We’d look at something and say, “no, that’s much too Star Wars,” when I was on Star Trek or vice versa. I think Star Trek has bit of a cool, mod pop sensibility, probably because of the time it was created, and Star Wars is much more gritty and earthier, and definitely epic.
It’s funny, Star Wars is so much its own world and its own universe, and yet it’s also a period piece; it came out of the 1970s. Fashion has changed so much since the first Star Wars movie was made. Did fashions in the real world influence the kind of clothes, the way you dressed the characters in the Star Wars world? I mean, we come into the theater with different expectations of what we’ll see. Did you have to sort of fit it into the 2015 kind of universe?
Not really because it is a fantasy. It doesn’t have to fit into any universe except the universe we now know as the Star Wars universe. That wasn’t the case when the original movies were being made, but now it’s become so iconic. I think the underlying 1970s style is so integral in the original three movies that I tried to inject that feeling into this new film. So in a strange way I’ve kind of taken that as part of the iconography, and in 2015 I’m kind of taking that fantasy 70s feeling and trying to hold onto that.