Space Age Fashion
After the launch of Sputnik by Russia in 1957, America began to take the Space Race seriously. It took a few years to get off the ground,
but by the beginning of the 1960's, the nation's space program was a going concern, with unmanned craft going farther and farther than
we had ever reached previously. Starting in 1961, pioneering astronauts like Yuri Gegarin and Alan Shepard became national heroes as
their far-flung exploits became fodder for the imaginations of young people all over the world. The entire decade of the 1960's, in fact,
would be partially colored by the bright promise of uncharted worlds that NASA and similar organizations assured us lay just around the
corner for the human species.
This future-looking optimism was not lost on the world of fashion. Space-age silver was mixed with primary colored prints taken from
pop art, to create new, alien-looking pallettes. Novel fashion materials were introduced, which included shiny, wet-look PVC, easy-care
acrylics and polyesters.
In 1964, designer Andre Courreges formally launched the space-age look. Courreges's collections strongly featured silver and white
PVC with bonded seams, silver PVC 'moongirl' pants, white cat suits, and monochrome
striped mini skirts and dresses.
His success was followed by Paco Rabanne's 1966 interpretation of the futuristic theme. Rabanne created clothing using plastic,
metal, and even chain mail. This extreme look caught on commercially in the form of chain link belts, heavy metal necklaces, and
disk-like earrings. Pierre Cardin also created his version of the space age look in 1967 with stylised visored helmet hats and
shift dresses, space-age cat suits and body stockings.
1968 was the year the look really took off, following the success of the film Barbarella and the increasing hysteria over
the imminent moon landings.