The Space Race of the 1960s was inspiring to millions of people worldwide — including some of the decades hottest fashion designers. The moon landing of 1969 became the inspiration that rocket-launched a new wave of fashion. Futuristic fashion trends inspired by space exploration were now hitting the catwalks and clothing racks throughout the world.
This futuristic trend hasn’t gone away, either. Instead, it has remained popular with fashion designers even today. The more we learn about space, the more space becomes reflected in the clothes we wear.
1. Modern Headwear for Stewardesses
This plastic helmet was designed by Italian fashion designer Emilio Pucci for Braniff Airways in the 1960s. This plastic bubble was created to protect the hairdos of stewardesses on windy tarmacs, but it had a very futuristic feel to it.
2. Jane Fonda as Barbarella
The space race didn’t just infiltrate its way into fashion, but also virtually every single facet of American society.
The 1968 space film Barbarella starring Jane Fonda exemplified this new obsession with all things intergalactic and set the standard for futuristic fashion. Barbarella showcases different costumes made of chain mail, molded plastic, and feathers — all of which became staple looks on the runways.
3. Paco Rabanne
Paco Rabanne was one of the most notable futuristic fashion designers of the 1960s and 1970s. Paco Rabanne specialized in metal couture to give his clothing to futuristic look he was going for.
He was known for creating chain-mail mini shift dresses and matching headgear that made models look like fleets of armored aliens. Rabanne also helped design the futuristic costumes worn by Jane Fonda in Barbarella.
4. Thierry Mugler
Thierry Mugler is a fashion designer known for his otherworldly themes. From his 1979 futuristic collection (above) to his 1995 full-body robotic armor (below), Thierry Mugler is known for creating fashion out of this world.
Throughout the decades, his designs have been worn by celebrities, including Diana Ross, Lady Gaga, and most recently, Cardi B.
5. Andre Courreges
Andre Courreges is better known as the father of space-age fashion. He was the first design to bring the space race to the catwalk.
Courreges is largely credited with popularizing both mini-skirts and go-go boots in the 1960s — both a result of some of his original futuristic designs. Courreges demonstrated such an interest in the future and space travel that he actually received an invitation from NASA to visit Cape Canaveral in Florida.
6. Pierre Cardin
Pierre Cardin is another French fashion designer who took inspiration from the moon landings. In fact, his 1969 show titled “Space Age and Futurism” showcased clothes featured shiny capes and dresses with rocket-style flaring at the hem.
Cardin was also given a tour of NASA and supposedly became the first civilian in the world to try on Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit. Cardin went on to create his own rendition of a spacesuit for NASA and has been quoted saying he dreams of having a house on the moon one day.
7. Givenchy, 1999 collection
Givenchy’s autumn/winter 1999 collection featured Alexander McQueen’s take on an uncertain future on the eve of Y2K.
Models strutted down the runway wearing an array of clothing featuring elaborate, metallic circuit-board patterned designs. This collection really emphasized the “future” in “futuristic.”
8. Hussein Chalayan, 2007 Collection
Fashion designer Hussein Chalayan found himself preoccupied with futurism and technology while designing his 2007 line.
During his spring/summer show, he worked with the same technological team who worked on the special effects for the Harry Potter films to bring his clothing designs alive. These designs mimic the 1960s designs of Paco Rabanne (see above), but they also brought futuristic elements of technology into his clothing.
9. Moschino, 2018 Collection
Moschino’s 2018 Fall collection looked both to the past and to the future with its 1960s inspired line.
The line featured colorful matching skirt suits, similar to the ones popular in the 1960s. The kicker? Many of the models wearing these designs were painted different colors to look like out-of-this-world Martians.
This line was a nod to the space race of the past and a nod to the unknown.
10. Balmain, 2021–2022 Collection
One of the most recent fashion shows of this year also had a distinctly futuristic element to it. This year, the Balmain Fall-Winter 2021-2022 collection shown at Paris Fashion Week told its viewers a story of escape.
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Maybe the inspiration from this line was pulled from the COVID-19 pandemic and the idea of escaping to outer space to get away from everything here on Earth. It’s an appealing thought.
Nonetheless, the designs that appeared in this show featured iridescent clothing similar to astronauts’ spacesuits.