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Moment 28: Space Age

Five years before astronauts reached the moon, designers were getting into the Space Age groove by creating cheeky interpretations of outer-space chic.

Paco Rabanne and Julie Harris discuss a Casino Royale costume in 1966
Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD 100 issue 11/01/2010

Five years before Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, designers were getting into the Space Age groove, fueled by the energy and excitement of the U.S.–Soviet race to rocket out of the ozone. Fashion's take? Minimalist, often cheeky variations on the spacesuit and in some cases, interpretations of imaginary outer-space chic. In 1964, André Courrèges, a former protégé of Balenciaga, stunned the industry with a collection of boxy silhouettes, some accented with plastic, and streamlined, geometric prints; he topped off the looks with goggles and saucy above-the-knee go-go boots. The vibe was racy, like his hemlines—supershort and swingy—and part of fashion's burgeoning Mod inclination. One of that movement's foremost champions, British designer Mary Quant, dubbed her thigh-high skirts after her favorite car, the Mini, and the name stuck. A few years later, the Spanish designer Paco Rabanne crafted clothes from industrial materials aluminum, plastic and chain mail, cleverly channeling futuristic notions for the earthbound.