This space fashion simply sends us into orbit

This space fashion simply sends us into orbitEntertainment

Fashion designers are taking their inspiration from outer space. The results are out of this world. Video by Suzy Fleming Leonard. Uploaded Aug. 3, 2017. Wochit

MELBOURNE, Fla. — The fashion industry is discovering what we in Florida have known for decades: Space is hot. Or should that be haute?

“Space is the new black,” said menswear designer Nick Graham, who introduced his “Life on Mars” collection during Men’s Fashion Week in January. Along with chiseled-jawed models in metallic sharkskin suits, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin and Bill Nye the Science Guy walked the runway during the New York show.

Graham’s not the only one to enter the fashion space race. The June/July 150th anniversary edition of Harper’s Bazaar features a “Gigi Hadid’s Space Odyssey” spread shot at Kennedy Space Center.

Coach has launched a line of NASA-inspired handbags, jackets, T-shirts and accessories. New York-based designer Vivienne Tam used the NASA logo in her spring/summer 2017 collection.

“Chanel did a space-themed show two weeks after mine,” Graham said via email, “so I guess Karl Lagerfeld is on the same wavelength.”

Even Target has a line of shirts sporting the NASA logo.

“I love the (Coach) bomber jacket,” said Darcia Jones Francey of Melbourne, who tried it on at a Coach store in Miami. “I will probably purchase one of the smaller bags just to have one. It’s part of our local history.”

Not a cheap part of our history, mind you.

Sure, you can opt for a kid’s T-shirt at Target, which will run you $8.99. Or you can get a T-shirt/ball cap combo at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex for $19.99.

But if you want haute couture, it’s going to cost you. Coach’s Space collection includes a $95 purse charm and a space varsity jacket for $895. A black leather space jacket sells for $1,450.

The silver bomber jacket Aldrin wore during Graham’s show recently went for $2,250 during a live auction at Aldrin’s Apollo II Anniversary Gala at Kennedy Space Center. The event raised money to further Aldrin’s mission of educating the next generation of space explorers.

“Space is great for fashion because of the different materials used that aren’t everyday fabrics,” Graham said. “Silvers, metallics, all make great statements. Plus, it’s super trendy right now.”

Mica Perry, who owns the Melbourne boutique Mica and Molly’s with her sister, Molly Perry Wilson, said space has never gone out of style along the Space Coast. But she was surprised while traveling out West recently to discover her friends in California are fascinated by the launches taking place at Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center.

The resort-wear lines carried at Mica and Molly’s aren’t spacing out yet, but Perry said she is seeing some intergalactic influence on accessories.

“Shiny silver metallic is really big,” she said. Among the brands her store carries, Jack Rogers has silver sandals. Southern Tide has a sliver/gray rain jacket for men. Kendra Scott is making jewelry with shiny, rugged stones that “kind of go with the theme.”

“I feel like it’s all trickle down,” Perry said. “The fancier stuff can have the crazier astronaut purses. By the time it gets down to our brands, it’s more the colors and the inspiration.”

Bobbi Whitmore, who own’s Bobbi’s at Parkside in Cocoa Village, agreed.

“Metalic is huge,” she said. “In the accessories, that was huge for summer, and it’s carrying over into the fall.”

Elan, a designer she carries, is using shiny, satin-finish denim. Purses, belts, leather bracelets: They’re all showing up in silver or bronze.

“At the resort show, they were putting a lot of blingy silver sequins on denim jackets and bomber jackets,” she said.

Robert Pearlman, founder and editor of the website collectSPACE.com, said a few things are driving the renewed interest in space. One is nostalgia.

“We’re approaching a milestone,” he said, “the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 (in 2019). For a generation of kids who grew up watching the moon landing, this is a reflection point.

“Those who grew up with the space shuttle are reaching their 40s and 50s, looking back at their childhoods as well.”

People remember where they were when man first landed on the moon or when the space shuttle Challenger was lost.

The emerging field of commercial space flight is also fueling interest, Pearlman said.

Entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla, Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Galactic are reaching back into their childhood interests in space, and they have the finances to make it happen, Pearlman said.

“They’re bringing an excitement surrounding their own activities to today’s generation,” he said. “Space flight is not just a spectator sport anymore, but something they can take part in.

“Apparel is something they can wear to show their support.”

Space has the unique ability to be, at once, futuristic and retro. And some designers are giving new life to a retired symbol of NASA history: the worm logo.

From 1975 until 1992, NASA switched from its original — and current — meatball logo to a sleek, modernist design. The curved letters in the single word, minus the crossbars in the A’s, earned the logo its worm nickname.

In the early 1990s, NASA switched back to the meatball, the round blue logo with red and white swirls.

“I’m a meatball guy,” said Bob Sieck, former NASA launch director and director of shuttle processing.

“I got on board with NASA when the meatball was our emblem,” he said. “It was our signature, our trademark when we went to the moon. It was a reminder of what we could do with government support.

“So when we transitioned to the worm, most of us old-timers, we didn’t like the change.”

He saw returning to the meatball as returning to NASA’s roots.

Sieck said he likes the renewed interest in space.

“It makes more people aware of the benefits of a robust space program,” he said.

Space is mysterious and huge, designer Graham said. It has a strong hold over our imagination.

And with Mars exploration on the horizon, it’s not too soon to start thinking about what the first Mars settlers should pack.

“Being the founder of Jo Boxer, I’d always recommend clean underwear, of course,” Graham said. “But I think a guy should take a nice suit, preferable metallic, in case he meets any Martian girls.

“Then again, if Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin team gets there first, you won’t have to bring a thing, because you’ll be able to use your Amazon Martian Prime account to get whatever you need.”

Follow Suzy Fleming Leonard on Twitter: @SuzyLeonard

usatoday.com