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June 4, 2009 6:54 PM

Fashion, Media, Men's

The Eagle Has Returned

It is not every day WWD has occasion to interview an astronaut. Buzz Aldrin, who, with Neil Armstrong, was one of the first men to walk on the moon 40 years ago come July 20, wasn't expecting to speak to...

It is not every day WWD has occasion to interview an astronaut. Buzz Aldrin, who, with Neil Armstrong, was one of the first men to walk on the moon 40 years ago come July 20, wasn't expecting to speak to us either.

"Women's where what?" he asked as we sat down at the Omega flagship on Fifth Avenue, where the watch brand had asked Aldrin to attend the launch of its special edition Speedmaster Professional. The timepiece has the distinction of being the watch Aldrin and Armstrong wore while floating around the moon.

The watch brand is turning that association into a new marketing campaign to break next month. And it is not alone -- Louis Vuitton tapped Aldrin and two other American astronauts to feature in a print ad shot by Annie Leibovitz, also hitting magazines next month. In the meantime, expect plenty of moon-inspired fashion spreads, editorials supporting (or decrying) the space program, and wistful profiles of the Apollo era. It's moon madness time. If Aldrin is relishing his return to the spotlight, he doesn't show it. When asked if he enjoyed being something of a fashion icon, he talked instead of his flower-print tie and how he used to have a moon rock tie that he loved.

At 79, Aldrin has a debonair way about him. Topped with a groomed head of white hair, he still has the athletic body of a pilot, as if he were still training to withstand the rigors of space travel.

And talking to him, you get the sense that in some ways he never left orbit.

uring the press conference, Aldrin was no more at home than when discussing alternatives to jet propulsion. Apparently, the future looks bright for gravity waves. When talking about more earthly matters -- NASA's troubles, the value of space travel in 21st century society -- Aldrin tended to drift, the conversation pulled away as if picked up in a comet's tail.

He has concrete ideas though.

A trip back to the moon? Waste of time. Already been there.

The reason for NASA's decline? The end of the Cold War. The Apollo era was fueled by competition with the Soviet Union.

The future of space travel? International cooperation and private sector tourism.

As second-in-command on Apollo 11, Aldrin may always be somewhat eclipsed by the mission's commander, Armstrong. But if he could do it differently, he'd still want to remain as the second man to have set foot on the moon.

"It was the right thing to do," he said. "The first mate can't push Columbus  aside and go walking down into the surf."
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