It may have been one small step for a man, but the lunar outfits worn by the first astronauts had a touch of the feminine about them too as a Kingston University fashion student discovered when she researched her final year fashion collection.
While strolling around the Science Museum in the heart of London’s cultural quarter, student Anna Collinson’s eye was caught by the iconic design of the puffy airtight space suits with their mirrored helmets. She was even more intrigued, however, to find out that the first astronauts’ outfits of the 1960s had been designed by a subsidiary of a company more famous for a very different kind of gravity-defying garment – lingerie and well-known bra maker Playtex.
“I was attracted by this clash of ideas,” Anna, from Salford, said. “Although women have been into space, I think of the idea of being an astronaut as very masculine. Yet here was a company renowned for making ladies’ girdles right at the heart of the whole lunar story. I just had to explore that further to make a fashion collection that brought these two worlds together.”
The six looks in Anna’s menswear collection combine the bulbous padding of the space suit with more subtle nods to the lace, trim and feminine detail of Playtex’s more famous lingerie. Straps reminiscent of suspender belts hang from two laser-cut lace-like shirts. Meanwhile, a chunky puffed-up scarf surrounds the collar of another more astronomical-themed white jacket. “Imagining the air trapped inside a real space suit, I wanted to create something that had a lot of volume too,” the 22 year old explained. “I took shapes from girdles and several of the garments include zips and panels – even a detachable mask that envelops the lower part of the face.”
Anna sourced a lot of the materials for her collection from Italy including cashmere and viscose jersey. “I’m really interested in the technology behind the fabrics and the functions of particular garments,” Anna added. “Now that I’ve finished my own collection, I’d really like to design for a sportswear company.”