It all began as a concept art for the first Star Wars movie, where Darth Vader was going to board a Republic ship by force. He was pictured in a complete space suit. Later on, he ended up with that space suit as his whole costume. What was most memorable about it was the Darth Vader Mask. It was intriguing and very mysterious at the same time.
It always gave a question while the people were watching the movie. Questions like “Who is the person behind the Darth Vader mask?” or “What does he look like?” and the most common question was “Why does his breathing and speech sound like that?” At the end of the trilogy, most of the lingering questions in the minds of the viewers were answered. Beneath the Darth Vader mask was a feeble old man who was only being kept alive by the machines built into his body and his respirator helmet.
The popular look of the Darth Vader mask started out with the concept of being a space helmet. It was supposed to be donned to keep the person wearing it safe from the harsh conditions of space. Later on it became part of his character. The Darth Vader Mask was originally designed to look like a German WW1 helmet. Until more designs were added. The Japanese samurai warrior design had been integrated to the overall menacing appearance of the Darth Vader costume. What adds more to the powerful look was that the Darth Vader mask was made to resemble a skull.
In the movie and other related Star Wars literature, the helmet was more than just Darth Vader’s look. It was made for a specific purpose, to keep him alive. The helmet and the Darth Vader mask had to monitor all the equipment maintaining his life support systems. It enabled him to monitor what was going on in his surroundings. Since his eyes were severely damaged, the eye pieces are heavily tinted. As an additional function it even allowed him to see in total darkness.
As the appearance of Dark Vader became very popular, more people wanted to portray him during costume events or conventions. So, some manufacturers even made special edition Darth Vader masks and helmets. It sometimes even has bonus features such as the trademark respirator breathing and voice changers. The more complicated the features are, of course, the more expensive the item is.