Essay on Passionate about Fashion

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Space Age fashion was first introduced in the mid-to-late 60s by a French couturier who was passionate about engineering and architecture. His name was André Courrèges and his vision of fashion redefined the beauty canons of Western society, evading those already established by designers like Cristobal Balenciaga or the house of Dior (and its wasp-shape figure). Courréges reinvented the model of femininity: functional and liberating; full of movement. “Clothes must be able to move too”, he once said, creating a direct connection between the never-ending social evolution and his garments. (This current was already present with the figure of Alexander Rodchenko (1920s) and his unisex Soviet uniforms based on utilitarian functionality. Jean Patou (1920s) who was influenced by sportswear and created fashionable wear also focused on producing garments that were elegant, wearable, and practical.) Soon, other designers such as Pierre Cardin with the cylinder suit jacket, Paco Rabanne and his dedicated- - --sci-fi attire or Mary Quant, with the use of plastics decided to follow Courrèges’ lead and divulge the trend by characterizing it with their attributes.

During this decade the United States, United Kingdom, and continental Europe suffered abnormal socio-political revolutions that encouraged artists to challenge their boundaries and explore beyond the already accepted tedious social norm. The space race between the United States and the Soviet Union marked a pivotal point for society and the longevity of the trend.

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Economic perspective

Although Space Age fashion focuses more on a cultural and technological scenario, it is crucial to analyze the importance of economic factors such as demand, sales, and production. These are of great interest to understand how ‘prominent’ the trend was.

These garments were originally produced for an exclusive and reserved sector, but soon, Courrèges revealed that: 'Working women have always interested me the most,' said Life Magazine in 1965. 'They belong to the present, the future'. During that same year, the visionary sold over 200.000 miniskirts. This meant his designs started popularising over a female-dominant sector eager to become a more ‘cosmic’ version of their selves. This figure exhibits the importance of mass production during that era: without modern machinery, sales wouldn’t have risen. Due to this vast production, Space-Age apparel was cheap and purchasable by many members of the population. In 1968, half of his company was acquired by L’Oréal, expanding his empire by opening 125 boutiques worldwide and introducing his first fragrance: Mr. Courrèges (diversifying his brand and attracting a male audience.)

However, it was Pierre Cardin who saw the potential of China as a source of attracting millions of new customers. In 1967 Cardin founded ‘Gruppo GFT’ with the fusion of Tianjin Jin Garment Company and ended up forming the Pierre Cardin label (This crucial movement could allude to Paul Poiret’s (1903) ‘Persian Rose collection’, where he was the first designer to commercialize his name. Poiret was the pioneer for it.) This led him to negotiate about 800 licensing deals in more than 100 countries. His fashion expanded at an over-accelerated worldwide level; people knew his name, his brand, and his products. Cardin didn’t only produce fashion at this stage: alarm clocks, pens, and cigarettes were also included in his collection. By the end of the century, he already produced $2.5 billion per year. Industrialisation is more than present at this stage: the supply and demand chain is purely active and Cardin became one of the world’s top business owners due to the vast capital produced. However, with the act of ongoing licensing and the subsequent use of a wide range of product strategies, the brand ended up being damaged, losing the prestige it originally had.

Cultural perspective

In a decade marked by political conflicts and social changes, the Cold War and the Vietnam War were still palpable, leaving the younger generations impacted by the atrocities committed. They needed a radical cultural change, some organisms embraced freedom, and diversity, while others remained obtuse to this idea.

The Chambre Syndicale (the French fashion industry’s governing body) didn’t accept the launch of Cardin’s Space Age ready-to-wear line (1959) and, as a consequence, the designer got expelled from it. This represents how thorough its members were when defending this institution’s values on haute couture. However, this wasn’t an impediment for him to expand and transform his trademark (as stated previously).

In terms of cultural perception, April’s issue of 1965 Harper’s Bazaar magazine was dedicated to Space Age fashion. Featuring a galactic cover photographed by the prestigious Richard Avedon, the microtrend couldn’t have been depicted any better: glamorous, seductive, and recent. Some of the models included for this issue were: Donyale Luna and Paul McCartney. People saw them as a reference, contemporary to the decade they were living in, and consequently, desired to have a more ‘up-to-date’, advanced outfit. Eloquent garments were portrayed such as the: “kinetic threads”, the striped dress, or the “OP Scene” (a symmetrical short attire with large circular monochromatic shapes printed on its surface.) However, this trend not only focused on the apparel; the messages fashion creators wanted to convey through their designs were so powerful that soon Space Age reinvented itself and transformed into a literary movement. For this April’s edition, Lane Dunlop forges a state of illusion and trance when describing a pictured scene: “Moon-driven, ungovernable as the sea in her moods Of sexual mayhem, or the maniacal calm of 3 a.m. She laughs to scorn the mind-forged manacles, and Gives up her dead to the depth charge of grief”. This “Note to the Heart” alludes to the aesthetic being created by the trend: abstract, exclusive, and utopic. Reserved for individuals who wanted to “dress for success”, following Emanuel Ungaro’s statement for Space Age. This designer wanted to disclose sex appeal without relating it to vulgarity. Just as Rudi Gernreich and his swimwear (forged following the trend) and very much appreciated by celebrities such as the late actress Sharon Tate (Roman Polanski’s first wife), pictured on multiple occasions wearing the aquatic costume. She became an icon of her time who portrayed the embodiment of Space Age fashion.

Technological perspective

As society was evolving, so did the interpretation of the suit following Pierre Cardin’s filter. One year before the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to reach outer space, Cardin introduced his Cylinder menswear collection. It consisted of a reinterpretation of the conventional men’s suit along with the sports coat. He removed the lapel, narrowed the shoulders, and sewed a five-button design on the blazer that reached up to the tie knot. This served him in 1968 as a source of inspiration for his Cosmo Corps collection (made exclusively for everyone: men, women, and children.) Some of the materials he conveyed had never been used for daily wear. These included: vinyl, plastic, leather, and his own three-dimensional “Cardine” fabric.

Another designer crucial to mention, who revolutionized the fashion industry regarding technological advances was Paco Rabanne. In 1966 he inaugurated his ‘breakout’ show: “Twelve Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials.” These garments were produced with sparkling paillettes and metal discs that were joined through split metal rings by hand. This process of craftsmanship mirrors how time-consuming some of these designs were: using innovative components wasn’t time-efficient but the final result left the audience mesmerized. Their shininess mirrored the one found in spacecraft and spacesuits; making the cosmos that surrounds humanity more tangible. At this point, Rabanne thought about comfort as a minor factor of concern (unlike his predecessors: André Courrèges or Pierre Cardin.) He believed in the uniqueness of his attire and conceived it as timeless. Such is his judgment that during the 2017 ready-to-wear Autumn collection, Rabanne made a huge comeback and brought Space Age fashion back to the runway: the shiny and iridescent metallic fabrics were seen again not only on the catwalk but on the streets. Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel also produced cost-worthy silver textiles that could be appreciated for their “Rocket Launch” collection during this same year. Rabanne initiated a passion for the use of unusual materials that relate to today’s context of sustainability and waste.


Without a doubt, this trend has left remarkable moments within Western society. It has shown a craving to go beyond any boundaries established, any shapes/silhouettes studied, and any ideas accepted. Space Age fashion was truly embraced by a community passionate about autonomy and citizenship, unity. Designers went from embracing a trend to creating a new one: ambition is what best characterized their spirit for renewal. They managed to thrive economically, to be accepted (even nowadays) by several nations, not only Western but Occidental, and introduced new materials we perceive as being ‘ordinary’ as a novelty for the time. They accomplished the popularisation and expansion of the 60’s zeitgeist remodelling it into a sempiternal trend. Space Age fashion is eternal.

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Essay on Passionate about Fashion. (2024, February 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 14, 2024, from
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