10 details hidden in costumes that you might not have noticed

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With over 1,000 costumes made for her, Denis Villeneuve’s film Dune feels just as epic as the novel it’s based on. that of Frank Herbert Dune features a rich universe filled with aristocrats and freedom fighters, environments ranging from lush, water-centric Caladan to hot and inhospitable Arrakis, and sprawling structures, ensuring that whatever its characters wear must feel native of the saga and help tell its story.

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From the Desert Fremen’s jumpsuits to Lady Jessica’s beautiful yellow dress to the mysterious Bene Gesserit dresses and insectoid ensembles from the brutal Maison Harkonnen, there’s a lot to see – and details to miss – in the costumes designed by Jacqueline West and Bob Morgan.


The outfits reflect the houses

Oscar Isaac in Dune

In Herbert’s novel, the Atreides house is seen as a minor house of the Landsraad, so it makes sense that the clothes worn by the Duke and his son Paul reflect this; nothing ostentatious, opulent or eye-catching but functional for the cold of Caladan. As the Duke’s concubine, Lady Jessica would have the most eye-catching outfits, and as a wealthy house of colonizers, so would House Harkonnen.

In fact, House Harkonnen’s dark, utilitarian, and biotech appearance is in keeping with its status as a powerful family of industries, which has controlled spices (and therefore the power of interstellar travel) for generations.

Lady Jessica’s yellow outfit is of medieval origin

Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) in her formal dress to arrive on Arrakis in Dune (2021)

One of the most interesting outfits in the whole movie is Lady Jessica’s yellow dress, with a chain mail delicately draped over her head, shoulders, and arms that resembles something from a medieval fantasy movie. She truly puts on a breathtaking spectacle when House Atreides arrives on Arrakis.

In an interview with ImagineFX, Dune Costume designer West said the medieval-inspired dress took months to build by hand. Each link was handcrafted and then assembled by costumer Bryony Tyrrell. In Herbert’s book, AI and computers were abolished, and although the machines still exist, many items are still handcrafted, so the dress reflects the same craftsmanship.

Stillsuits are dark on purpose

dune paul lady jessica

The Fremen-made stills that allow them to move through the desert and distill their sweat and waste into the much-needed water are a dark color to scratch their heads. Wouldn’t it make more sense for them to be the color of the desert sands they are crossing? And what were the talismans on some of them?

There are several reasons why they are dark gray; in the universe, a dark color at extreme temperatures makes the wearer sweat more and therefore produce more water, while for practical reasons a darker color helps actors stand out among beige landscapes. In the same interview for ImagineFX, West explained that the actors selected talismans and balls to attach to their suits to help with their character’s story.

The beetle means more than you think

Glossu "The beast" Rabban Harkonnen (Dave Bautista) in his armor in Dune 2021

There is a scene in the film where Paul studies a black beetle crawling in the sand on Arrakis, and while seemingly random, it indicates the encroachment of the Harkonnens and their return to retrieve Arrakis.

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According to an interview in the Los Angeles Times with West, their house costumes were based on insects like beetles, ants, and spiders. The textures of these insects were used to inspire the hard shells of their robes and armor, making the Harkonnens look like colonizers ready to overtake another planet and exploit its resources. It also connects them to the constellation “scarab” that can be seen from Arrakis.

Reverend Mother’s facial veil would interfere with her Bene Gesserit training

Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam wearing an ornate black headdress in Dune (2021).

Overall, the Reverend Mother has one of the best outfits in the world. Dune, but the veil she wears to hide her face obstructs the tradition of the Bene Gesserit more than it brings mystery to the character. This completely hinders the Bene Gesserit method and the means by which fellowship remains above all in the universe.

In Herbert’s series, the Bene Gesserit are trained to carefully and cautiously study their surroundings, especially the people in them. They note any changes in body language, facial expression, or energy level to identify assassination attempts, betrayal plots, etc.

Bene Gesserit dresses were based on tarot, chess and nuns

dune trailer breakdown lady jessica rebecca ferguson

When the mysterious brotherhood known as Bene Gesserit makes their first appearance in the film, walking in the rain in solemn black robes in the dead of night, they create an incredibly visceral image that stays in viewers’ minds. With the style of their robes and wide hoods, they resemble medieval monks, which is by design.

From the book by Tanya Lapointe The art and soul of Dune, Bene Gesserit dresses were based on two things associated with the spiritual and the occult; tarot cards (especially the High Priestess and the Queen of Cups), chess pieces (the queen and the bishop) and images of medieval nuns. It makes sense that they resemble both objects used to predict the future (since that is part of what they do) and spiritual colonizers appointed to guide adepts to a higher understanding.

The baron’s outfit suggests feminine power

baron harkonnen stellan skarsgard dune trailer breakdown

Although he is easily one of the richest and smartest characters in Dune, Baron Harkonnen floats in the simplest of clothes, including basic dark colored clothing and a black robe, intending to let his physique emphasize what makes him so powerful, not his quirky clothes.

In the same article for the Los Angeles Times, Villeneuve explained that the only reason Baron Harkonnen wore a simple black robe was because he wanted “the baron to be very gentle in his movements and almost feminine.” The baron would not need ostentatious displays of opulence when he is so influential.

The aesthetic of the couture was on purpose

A striking element of any Villeneuve film is the streamlined minimalism. From Paul Atreides to Lady Jessica, their outfits could almost be considered interstellar couture – especially the coat Paul wears alongside his father Duke Leto I, and the dresses Lady Jessica wears both privately and during ceremonial occasions.

As also stated in Lapointe’s book, their wardrobes are inspired by vintage models from Balenciaga, Dior and Schiaparelli. In Lady Jessica’s case, despite being the Duke’s concubine, she doesn’t flaunt her sexuality and looks neat and sophisticated. His costumes were inspired by artist Francisco Goya, according to Squire.

There seems to be some influence from Star Wars

Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) in a hood from Dune (2021) and Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) in a hood from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Frank Herbert has stated very publicly that he believes George Lucas borrowed heavily from his books when creating his Star wars galaxy, so including some Star wars inspiration in Dune is kismet. From dresses and hooded dresses of Lady Jessica to the look of the uniforms worn by Duncan Idaho and others, there are pieces of this galaxy far, far away if fans know where to look.

Most of the dresses Lady Jessica wears would not be out of place in Padmé Amidala’s wardrobe in the Star wars prequel trilogy, specifically what Padmé chooses to wear when she visits the desert planet of Tatooine, which is itself lifted from Arrakis.

Sardaukar’s army infiltration operation

A group of Sardaukar marching with their weapons in Dune (2021).

House Harkonnen’s hostile takeover of Arrakeen was confusing and chaotic, made all the more so by Emperor Sardaukar’s army, as the armor of House Harkonnen’s two troops and the forces of House Atreides were so alike.

The only way for a member of House Atreides to distinguish a member of the Emperor’s troops was to assess his fighting style, which Duncan Idaho and Gurney Halleck were able to do being skilled warriors who had faced them. before, but that’s something fans can look for too.

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