Spacesuits & Fashion as Architecture

The iconic Apollo spacesuit

BLDGBLOG has today an interesting interview with Nicholas de Monchaux, author of Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo, a book about the design history of the iconic spacesuit.  I certainly had never heard the story of how Playtex designed the suit, beating out competing designs from military contractors.  I’ve got to read this book!

When I was in college, and in love with clothes, I came up with some impressive-sounding bullshit to make a positive interest in fashion more acceptable to my hipster-feminist-Marxist classmates.  (Not really necessary except insofar as I was insecure.)  One of them was to say that “Fashion is like architecture: it’s about creating a space for a human to go into.”  Then I would explain how a dress like a building should ideally be both beautiful on the outside and comfortable/functional on the inside, etc.  As BLDGBLOG’s Geoff Manaugh points out, this is more true of a spacesuit: “Bridging the line between clothing and architecture, the spacesuit is a portable environment: a continuation of habitable space, safe for human beings, capable of radical detachment from the Earth.”

Even though I was mostly making up some nonsense to avoid being called a sexist capitalist stooge because I read Vogue, the interchangeability of clothes and buildings has always fascinated me.  I was kind of surprised as Manaugh’s question, “Is it no longer an avant-garde question to ask if clothing is the future of architecture?”  I mean, it’s 20 years since Tsumura Kosuke designed the FINAL HOME, a coat intended to be the last refuge of someone made homeless by disaster.  And three years since Grace DuVal posted her Tent Dress on Craftster!  I’d say the idea is thoroughly mainstream by now, even a bit passé.  But maybe moreso for fashion people than for architects.

The FINAL HOME, stuffed with paper for warmth.

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