After more than 40 years, the cumbersome 300-pound space suit worn by astronauts is getting an overhaul from a team led by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor.
More Spider-Man than John Glenn, the sleek, spandex and nylon BioSuit is designed for improved mobility and relies on mechanical counterpressure. For the past seven years, Dava Newman, a professor of aeronautics, astronautics and engineering systems at MIT, has been refining her creation with a colleague, lecturer Jeffrey Hoffman, a former space shuttle astronaut who walked in space, as well as students and the design firm Trotti & Associates. Their lightweight, skintight suit could be ready in time for a Mars expedition — possibly in 10 years.
Instead of using gas pressurization, which exerts a force on the astronaut to shield him or her from the vacuum of space, the BioSuit has mechanical counterpressure, which requires wrapping tight layers of material around the body. The challenge is to make the suit beyond snug without restricting movement. Over the past four decades, space suits have gotten progressively heavier because of multiple layers, a life support system and the gas pressurization.
About 70 to 80 percent of the energy that wearers expend is from trying to bend their suits, according to MIT researchers. While the Michelin Man-type version is manageable in a micro-gravity environment such as a space walk outside the International Space Station, a more mobile style is better-suited for journeys to the moon or Mars, Newman said. There is also the possibility of using a variation of the technology for athletic training or helping injured individuals to learn how to walk. Newman's designs is supposed to help astronauts maintain fitness levels during a six-month journey to Mars. As things are, space travelers typically lose up to 40 percent of their muscle strength.
In addition, if an existing space suit is punctured by a miniscule meteorite or another object, the wearer is faced with life-threatening decompression. One of BioSuit's advantages would be that a hole could be wrapped, similar to a bandage.
Newman is not alone in her pursuit of refining space-related fashion. Philippe Starck is designing space suits for travelers on Virgin Galactic, a company owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, which will undertake private suborbital space travel.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast