August 25, 2012


Spy Vibe is dedicated to a time when new technology, space-age vision, and a young generation with playful flair, independence (and pocket money), combined to ignite a revolution in the Arts. Although the space program, for some, became a symbol of the nationalistic and militaristic culture of the older generation- and an extension of the Cold War, I believe that there was a forward-reaching spirit of science and exploration at its heart. One of the fearless pioneers in that program, Neil Armstrong, has passed away at the age of 82. The first human being to set foot on the moon on July 20th, 1969, Armstrong was never at ease being in the public eye and chose to lead a private life. You can read his obituary in the Washington Post.

The development of space suits had a large impact on fashion in the 1960s. New synthetic fabrics designed to withstand the cosmos found their way into the hands of young artists and designers, who molded it into space-age dresses, boots, hats, and eyewear. The fashion, as embraced by youth, symbolized a futuristic attitude, and according to Jane Pavitt (Royal College of Art/V&A Museum), it also reflected the deeper anxieties that people had about the dangers of new technology and radioactive fallout.

Neil Armstrong's suit is in the collection of the Smithsonian. Manufactured by ILC Industries, it was made from beta cloth, rubber, nylon, plastic, aluminum, brass, and neoprene. From the Smithsonian: "The lunar spacesuits were designed to provide a life sustaining environment for the astronaut during periods of extra vehicular activity or during unpressurized spacecraft operation. They permitted maximum mobility and were designed to be worn with relative comfort for up to 115 hours in conjunction with the liquid cooling garment. If necessary, they were also capable of being worn for 14 days in an unpressurized mode. 

The spacesuit has the designation A-7L, and was constructed in the Extra-vehicular or EV configuration.

 NASA transferred the spacesuit to the National Air and Space Museum in 1971." I have not read any of the Armstrong biographies, but I wonder if such a private man might have found comfort in the singularity of one's task and in the isolation of the cockpit- or encased in the mobile environment below. Rest in peace. For more on space fashion, check out the many books in Spy Vibe's secure Amazon store.

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