SpaceX and Virgin Galactic may be dominating the business pages, but space is just as influential in men’s fashion this fall
WHILE REAL-life Bond characters Elon Muskand Richard Branson are speeding toward the possibility of actual travel to the cosmos for civilians, menswear designers are embroiled in their own space race.
From New York fashion designer Heron Preston’s fall collection celebrating NASA to Japanese brand Undercover’s recent sampling of iconic images from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” runways are looking more and more like launchpads.
The promise of space travel first resonated through fashion in the 1960s and ’70s with designers like André Courrèges and Pierre Cardin serving up kooky Jetsons-style looks. But according to Patricia Mears, deputy director of the Museum at FIT and co-author of “Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme,” what we’re seeing now is more about time traveling. “There are so many seismic shifts going on in society today,” said Ms. Mears. “One of the solutions is to look back in time. The other is to look forward.”
Humberto Leon, co-creative director of Kenzo, sees one of those shifts in the “human rights that are being challenged day to day,” which he said helped make “the idea of escaping to a new planet more alluring than ever before” when he was designing the fall collection. Kenzo’s take on space falls in the backward-looking camp, with its nostalgic spaceman graphics referencing the sci-fi films of Mr. Leon’s youth, as well as the days when Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon.
Abdulwaheed Abasi, co-designer of New York label Abasi Rosborough, grew up dreaming of the promise of space travel, too. But these days the former missile technician, who makes modern suiting and futurist sportswear, looks ahead at the consequences that can come with those advancements. “The advent of technology is a gift. It could create a utopia, it could create a dystopia,” he said. Pieces from his brand’s fall collection include hoodies and T-shirts with an infrared graphic of an ominous rocket flying over a barren terrain.
Regardless of how you view space and the technology that will take us there, wearing clothes inspired by the final frontier is fairly straightforward. Stylist Dominick Barcelona recommends that you focus on one statement piece, like a top with rocket ship graphics or an astronaut-inspired quilted coat. “Work around that item, and tone down everything else,” he said, “to let the piece speak for itself.” If you overdo it, your style won’t go to infinity, let alone beyond.