Trespassing Boundaries

Whatever is effectively stored in our wardrobes embodies the spirit of a certain time. We’ve worn it in the past and link it to already experienced memories. Thus, it might at first appear difficult to name a dress picturing our far future. Trespassing Boundaries was written to depict how abstract the idea of life in space still is to most of us albeit the suit describes a somewhat plausible future as we are certain that mankind won’t be able to inhabit earth forever.

Of course it has to be white, as white is the perfect contrast to the darkness surrounding you whilst being out there. Everything made for them is white. We not only abandon any form of normal life, we also neglect one of the most vibrant features of nature in space travel, as nothing is natural in space. Or at least, if we understand nature to be all the living creatures and plants on earth, the ecosystem we are living in. I always thought about nature in this nonchalant way, but maybe I should accept everything else floating around in the universe as nature, too.

This must be one of the questions I would be concerned about if I was an astronaut. All the meanings which seem more or less evident and generally agreed upon would lose their implicitness whilst being out there. Colours are definitely one of the many things abound on our planet. They enhance it with even more bustling energy than it is preserving anyway. Earth must be a peacock among all the other planets and it shows off even more of its chromatic beauty the closer you get. Imagine living on the moon or Mars – I would be quite jealous of the inhabitants on earth. Obviously, this is a human perspective and maybe extraterrestrial life forms would find colour rather disgusting – as I said, everything must be reconsidered when being an astronaut. As well, can you picture the moon in bright pink? All the space-films and comics would turn into a parade. It would also unravel all the mystery, all the meaningful black and white images we associate with space. A lot more people may dare to go to space if the suit was more colourful, perhaps being put off by the seriousness of white.  I wonder if there was anyone who has ever cared about the colour of the space suit really. I’m sure, in a few hundred years from now, there will be colorful spacesuits, some that even follow contemporary fashion maybe, or fashion made on Mars. Once we get more used to the idea of meeting extraterrestrial life, we might be concerned about looking somewhat friendlier and more natural – if I still may use this word – than we do right now whilst being in space. Just think of the end of the world and the fact that our only escape will possibly be to live in a space suit for quite some time. We might as well start to personify them instead of reducing them to their sheer functionality. A spacesuit turns even a mirror which normally serves the disdainfulness of our species into the most logical commodity – it is attached to their sleeves as they otherwise wouldn’t be able to see the displays and control module attached to the front of their torso. But vanity must probably be something uncommon among astronauts and the lordly white seems to keep up appearences anyhow.

Given that the fashion system focusses on the next season and therefore on days to come, I take this as proof for the assumption that fashion was and will always be fond of our future. Genuinely, many designers are being inspired by fiction in terms of space and there are most different approaches on futuristic fashion to be considered. The space age collection of Paco Rabanne to Hussein Chalayan’s Airborne Collection immediately cross one’s mind. But would we be tempted to list the spacesuit as a futuristic fashion-design approach? It certenly illustrates the human future to a more convincing degree. Whereas the given designers portray avantgarde fashion with a quintessentialy poetic message hidden between the lines, the spacesuit represents a garment which suits an uninhabitable environment as it supplies bodyily needs and lowers our weaknesses. The so enhanced body depicts an important alteration since it shifts the relationship of human and dress: once in space, we couldn’t survive without it. the subjectification of apparel seems to gain a surprisingly real aspect at this instance. In the conclusion of his book Spacesuit,de Moncheaux writes: “Unlike the rest of Apollo’s hardware, it is clear, Apollo astronauts regard the suits as an extension of their own selves, and not a vehicle or container for them.” Could we depict a future in which the spacesuit becomes our actual second skin which we have to wear once earth does not exist any longer?

Today, we have adapted technology and have become functional cyborgs– (so called fyborgs ²) and technologies have long invaded fashion. One could say, functionality has become fashionable. Linking present and future, the spacesuit has a strong plausible and grounded character and could therefore be well conceived as a speculative design approach for a possible prospective. I’m without doubt that new technologies and fyborgization are a first step away from certain characteristics of the fashion system and we hence are asked to think about the future of fashion itself.

¹Nicholas de Moncheaux, Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo (Cambridge: MIt Press, 2011), p 342

² Gregory Stock, Redesigning Humans: Choosing Our Genes, Changing Our Future (New York: Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003) p 24-25