To rephrase a wildly popular line from the Star Wars trilogy: we've got a good feeling about this.
River Oaks luxury jeweler Franco Valobra — owner of the esteemed Valobra Master Jewelers — has unearthed a treasure trove of Star Wars memorabilia and artifacts that may have every bounty hunter in the galaxy setting coordinates to his chic boutique.
Just in time for May the Fourth Day (which is somehow isn't a federal holiday), Valobra is unveiling a vast collection of what he calls “museum quality,” never-seen-by-the-public, original props, costumes, and artifacts.
Star Wars diehards wont' have to travel to a galaxy far, far away. The Star Wars showcase of trilogy-era (1977 to 1983 pieces) will be on view at his elegant store ((2150 Westheimer Rd.) from May 10 to May 13.
For artisan, curator, tastemaker Valobra, the exhibition is as much artistic as it is feel-good for lifelong fans. “My personal connection and commitment is through the artistry of fine jewelry and the experience it gives others,” he tells CultureMap. “George Lucas and other industry geniuses revolutionized the artistry of film. Lucas especially through the creation of the original Star Wars trilogy starting in 1977.”
Darth Vader and Leia's bikini in the house
Valobra's collection boasts what he says is one of the world’s greatest — outside of Star Wars creator George Lucas’ own collection. Viewers and fans can expect original costumes and props of the main characters in the original trilogy.
That means what he calls the oldest, original, surviving Darth Vader costume and the Princess Leia’s metal bikini “slave costume” — which caused a galactic gasp when star Carrie Fisher donned it in 1983's Return of the Jedi. (Many a young fan grew immediately upon seeing the princess in that revealing getup forced on her by big blob Jabba the Hutt.)
More must-view memorabilia includes a Luke Skywalker X-Wing helmet (worn by the star Mark Hamill), among many other rare and one-of-a-kind pieces. The unforgettable Mos Eisley cantina from the 1977 Star Wars film comes alive thanks to original alien masks made for especially for the scene.
Would-be rebel pilots can check out a rare X-Wing model used in the first movie, while Imperial types can gaze upon extremely rare Storm Troopers’ uniforms, armors, and even weapons.
“Movies are experienced by viewing, as jewelry is experienced by wearing,” Valobra says of the connection with film craft and jewelry. “I personally have great passion and admiration for movies showcasing great art and brilliance, as I do for handcrafted, custom jewelry, as well and antique and heirloom jewelry which create an emotion. A comparison of the two is jewelry is a wearable masterpiece, as Star Wars is a viewable masterpiece.”
Speaking of masterpieces, Valobra's show will also feature a total must-see for diehard fans: extremely rare and never-before-seen documents and artwork Lucas crafted and used to illustrate and pitch his groundbreaking concepts to 20th Century Fox executives and other film studios.
The art of Star Wars
A household name for serious fans, noted illustrator Ralph McQuarrie gets his own exhibition with his first character drawings and mockups. Aficionados can also see Carrier Fisher's original personal script that reveals handwritten notes showcasing the development and final selection of the film’s most iconic dialogues.
Adding a bit of immersive fun to the show, the original C-3PO and R2-D2 droids will greet visitors (no word if R2 will serve drinks, as he did in Return of the Jedi) via actors and animatronics. Resist the urge to take off down Westheimer — as Luke Skywalker's original land speeder — used to promote the 1977 Star Wars film — will be parked outside.
Dazzling and dark lord diamonds
Fittingly for a master jeweler, Valobra will present the Skywalker Diamond, what Valobra calls “exceptionally rare and flawless,” and the Sith-worthy Darth Vader Black Diamond.
“Jewelry is art. Art is culture. Culture is movies,” Valobra reflects of why he's bringing the show to Houston. “My history, family, and legacy values the importance and the appreciation for our culture and how we experience it.”
Clearly, The Force is strong with this one.
The Star Wars memorabilia showcase runs from Wednesday, May 10 through Saturday, May 13 at Valobra Master Jewelers (2150 Westheimer Rd.).