SPACING OUT: The Science Museum in London has collaborated with the European Space Agency to host “Couture in Orbit,” a catwalk show that took place this week at the museum.
The event marked the European Space Agency’s five missions to the International Space Station made over the last two years.
Fashion schools from Milan, London, Paris, Berlin and Copenhagen — the five home cities of the European Space Agency’s astronauts — were asked to create outfits inspired by space flight.
Rosita Suenson, communication manager of the ESA, said the idea for the project emerged out of a conversation with Roger Highnfield, director of external affairs at The Science Museum, and a desire to engage a different audience.
“The students we normally engage are usually involved in the fields of science and technology, but this year we wanted to do something different, so I came up with the idea of a catwalk show.”
Suenson approached fashion schools from each astronaut’s home country, which included the Ecole Supérieure des Arts et Téchniques de la Mode in Paris and Berlin; Ravensbourne College in London; Milan’s Politecnico, and Copenhagen’s Fashion Design Akademiet.
“We got a very positive response, and I wanted to leave it up to the schools to decide how the project was added to the curriculum, and at what level, which meant that we had a wide variety of student ages participating,” added Suenson.
Students were asked to work with the theme of space flight, and as a further challenge they were asked to work alongside technology startups associated with the European Space Agency in order to incorporate elements of technology into their garments.
Among the highlights were a variety of puffer jackets with internal heating mechanisms, and tailored jackets with bulbous clear sleeves that resembled astronauts’ helmets.
Although the show, which was open to the public, was a one-off occasion, Suenson said the team is exploring an opportunity to stage it again during Milan Fashion Week in September, and turn “Couture in Orbit” into a traveling exhibition.
The project also highlighted the relevance of technology within fashion. As a result, some of the participating schools, including the Politecnico di Milano, are now looking into the possibilities of adding courses about space and technology to design students’ curriculum.