Space age fashion: A new interstellar era

Though it might have failed its lunar landing at the last second, for a while there SpaceIL’s Beresheet spacecraft had us all transfixed.

At the same time, a recent picture of a young Jewish scientist was going viral. Hands clasped over her mouth, eyes dancing in delight, Dr. Katie Bouman had snapped a photo at the moment her team captured the first-ever image of a black hole. Suddenly every young girl in the country wanted to be a scientist.

Could we be entering a new space age?

Jews in Space

If the tribe is going intergalactic, it’s actually a long and proud tradition.

Last year, an exhibition at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and the Center for Jewish History explored everything from rabbinical texts on astronomy to the Judaica that accompanied astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman on the space shuttle.

And popular culture is full of Jewish intergalactic explorers. There’s Carrie Fisher, of course, iconic as Princess Leia in the Star Wars trilogy.

And arguably the most classic double act of all are two actors from Orthodox Jewish families who boldly went where no man had gone before. In Star Trek, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy bonded over their shared Jewish heritage. In fact, Spock’s “Live long and prosper” Vulcan hand signal was inspired by the gesture made by the Kohanim when reciting the Priestly Blessing in temple.

The interstellar trend

Think of “space age fashion” and chances are, clean-lined minis and knee-high boots in silver and white will spring to mind. The sleek, futuristic looks epitomized by Paco Rabanne, Pierre Cardin and Courrèges in the 1960s are what automatically picture.

It’s an aesthetic that endures — Paco Rabanne is undergoing something of a renaissance right now. In fact, the Brooklyn Museum is planning an exhibition devoted to Pierre Cardin this summer.

If you’d like to embrace it without going full Raquel Welch, however, there are plenty of options this season. Louis Vuitton went intergalactic for Spring/Summer, with futuristic sequin dresses and sci-fi prints. On the more casual side, NASA remains one of fashion’s most intriguing logos, with graphic sweatshirts currently on offer at Asos and H&M, among other retailers.

Men, meanwhile, need not feel left out. For Fall/Winter 2019, Valentino, Louis Vuitton and Emporio Armani are all heeding the call of space-age futurism on the runway.

It’s in the world of footwear, though, that we really have blast-off this season. There’s something very futuristic about the current crop of chunky sneakers. Burberry went all in with heeled pumps in mirrored silver leather and Balenciaga revealed square-toed (and square-heeled) boots in white. These pumps or boots are just the shoes for striding across the deck of your spaceship.

Susannah Cohen
Susannah Cohen is a fashion journalist, e-commerce editor (specialist subjects: lingerie and diamonds) and Jewish mom. Recently relocated from London to the West Coast, she’s feeling a lot more spiritual these days.