For the last hundred years, we have been constantly imagining – and reimagining – our destiny. Science fiction writers and directors have projected mankind into the future through new worlds, new cityscapes – and, of course, new fashions. The fashion industry has always looked to the future for inspiration, so it’s no surprise that designers have often been involved in creating these sci-fi visions. Jean-Paul Gaultier, Paco Rabanne and Pierre Cardin have all lent their visual style to the imagined societies we have seen on film. From Barbarella’s intergalactic beachwear to Katniss Everdeen’s combustible evening gown, fashion shapes the way we view mankind’s future.
As London Fashion Week brings the clothes of tomorrow to the catwalk, Litro #137 also puts science fiction’s Future Fashions in the spotlight. We celebrate some of the iconic designs of the last fifty years, and imagine where the fashion industry might end up in the near (or distant) future. We open with Imagining the Future by Claire Smith of the British Film Institute, examining the influence that costume design has had on science fiction films, from Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon (1902) to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Kubrick’s masterpiece will be re-released to cinemas in a new digital transfer this November, as part of the BFI’s epic science fiction season, Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder – don’t miss out on this transcendent slice of future design.
Ian Sales explores many of the same themes in his story The Spaceman and the Moon Girl, taking us back to a time when mankind looked to the stars for inspiration. The worlds of science and fashion collided during the 1969 moon landings, as that era’s designers took their inspiration from NASA’s ambitious space program. Ivor W. Hartmann beams us into the far future with Catwalk, examining the toll the fashion industry takes from its models; then Tosin Coker unveils a world in which clothes have become more than simple garments, in her novel extract The Path. Ryan van Winkle imagines a future in which nudity is the new haute couture, in his poem that was joy she said, a modern take on the Emperor’s new clothes. This is followed by a short travelogue from the future, From Sri Lanka… With Love, by fashion designer Walé Oyéjidé, before Efe Tokunbo explores similar territory in Baby Lon and Imp9000 go to Market. Tokunbo’s story is a hi-tech shopping trip in which individuality – and freedom – come with a price tag.
Finally, we chat with acclaimed biographer Ian Kelly about his latest project, working side-by-side with designer Vivienne Westwood on her much-anticipated biography. There are few fashion designers as iconic as Westwood, and Kelly was given unprecedented access to her friends, her family – and Vivienne herself – as he researched her remarkable life story. For anyone who has an interest in fashion, punk, or simply the British cultural icons of the last fifty years, this is a book you won’t want to miss.
As the world’s models take to London’s catwalks this September, wearing many of the designs and the fabrics that we will see around us for the next few years, I can’t help humming lines from Lady Gaga’s ‘Fashion’: “There’s a life on Mars / Where the couture is beyond, beyond / Fashion”. From space age fabrics to dazzling near-future designs, fashion has always had one foot planted at the furthest reaches of the human imagination. The Space Race may have stalled, but our designers continue to reach for the stars.