This Saturday marks Yuri’s Night, a little (but increasingly) known holiday commemorating the flight of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who on April 12th, 1961, became the first human in space. Clearly the dawn of the space age was a big moment for the nations of the world, but surely the world of fashion continued business as usual?
Not even remotely.
The space race saw countless rockets launched into orbit throughout the 50s and 60s, and it also saw a public love affair with all things outer-space, real or imagined. The automobile had only recently become a household item, and it was largely assumed that flying cars and personal rockets were right around the corner. The future had arrived, and fashion was ready to lead the charge.
Traditional materials were often pushed aside to make room for sleek, shiny synthetics. Clothing took on extreme, science-fictiony looks that are today reminiscent of Bond villains. Sometimes the bright whites and shiny silvers of space suits found their way into everyday clothing, while other times bright colors and crazy shapes took flight. Either way, many stylish women of the mid-20th century were no longer dressing for “today,” they were dressing for tomorrow.
We’re now well into the 21st century, and the fashionable legacy of the space age lives on. Ultra-modern and futuristic trends continue to be featured on runways, while the popularity of “retro” looks surface time and again. Even our beloved Barely Practical logo is in fact a picture of Robby the Robot from the 1956 film Forbidden Planet – pictured here, helping actress Anne Francis complete her fabulously futuristic outfit with the perfect shoes.
It’s rare to find a holiday which science fans and fashionistas can equally enjoy, but Yuri’s night seems a good candidate. In recent years celebrations have ranged from public libraries to fashionable New York clubs, and while most of these events focus on Yuri’s contributions to space exploration, we like to remember his fashion contributions as well.