Kerri Valkova costumes and stuff

How I made & wore the Princess Leia Slave Girl costume

It's such a spin out how much worldwide attention the mention of my Leia bikini on this website has received - many people have emailed me, asking for my magic bikini-making formula. I'm more than happy to share my 'secrets' - I think that's what all costumers should do... myself, I'm currently searching for advice on constructing a pair of working Gargoyle wings.

Well, the 'secret' is not that magical or glamorous, I'm afraid... but feel free to use or adapt my techniques...

Some people who have contacted me have assumed I made the bikini from metal (which I certainly didn't) over the top of a plaster cast of my own figure (I don't even know how to make a plaster cast of my own body let alone own one!). I used my own 'idiot's guide' to making a metal bikini (papier mache!), trial and error and sheer guts and determination.

I put on my favourite perky bra, wrapped my chest and shoulders in clingwrap (being careful not to flatten my breasts) then used brown dry-gummed packing/picture-framing paper tape (you dip it in water which activates the glue on one side - can be bought in art/craft shops) torn into little pieces (like papier mache) and layered it up all over my chest from neck to lower ribcage. Actually, its best to get someone to help so you can stand still. It dries fairly quickly. Once hardened, you'll have a reasonable cast of your breasts and chest area.

I then used the cast to mark a texta outline and build the bra onto, using good old papier mache - powdered craft glue works best with torn up phone books. Use strips of strong cloth through the construction and across the narrow chest piece, otherwise it might tear when put under pressure. Once I had the base in the right shape, I used paper clay (buy in art shops - it's fine paper fibre that, when you add a little glue, goes like soft clay) to mould up the 'metal' patterns on the bra. Once it's all dry, lift it off the mould, seal it with PVA glue (paint it all over) then paint in metallic paint, matt paint for leather effect, etc. I did the bottom half the same way then finished with glued on fabric for skirt, leather thonging for the straps and a fake tan! The hair piece (which I couldn't find good reference on, so wasn't very accurate) and arm/wrist bands were made the same way.

In retrospect, I probably should have made the bikini entirely from cloth mache (with paper clay to mould details) - basically the same thing, but subsitute cotton cloth strips and watered down PVA. The paper base of mine has deleloped a few cracks at the stress points (the outfit is very tight!) and the cloth mache would have been more flexible and less likely to crack. Also, many jokes ensued... just add water to Kerri's costume and it will disolve! Anyway, you can see from the photos of myself in the costume that despite being made from paper, it looks pretty good, although certainly not like metal on really close inspection. I think the final finish is all in the painting.

Basically, I just made it up as I went along. I'm sure there is probably a better way of doing it - but I don't have the skills. I also belong to the Australian Costumers Guild - where I attended some paper mache workshops, which taught me a lot, and gave me access to lots of people with more costuming experience than me. I wore the bikini to their Annual Costumers' Ball in '98 and won a prize. I also received Best Costume for '97 from The Australian Star Wars Fan Club of Australia (Star Walking Inc). I've also worn the costume at several costumed promotional appearances (sanctioned by Lucasfilm) for the Special Edition video release, and other Star Wars promotions. So it's gotten quite a bit of exposure - so to speak! It's a very popular costume with the older boys (surprise, surprise) - the little kids always love the storm troopers and Darth Vadar better!

If you are interested, find the Guild at: home.vicnet.net.au/~costume/

I'm currently appearing (along with a lot of other talented slave bikini making women) on a great Slave Bikini Fan Site in the USA... check it out: www.leiasmetalbikini.com/

If you do make your own Leia Slave bikini, using or adapting any of my techniques, I'd love to see a photo of your final creation - perhaps you can iron out some of the bugs on the design. Let me know how you go.

Good luck. Regards, Kerri

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Last Updated: 14 September 2003
Copyright 2003 Kerri Valkova