Space Rags

Summer Glau in Firefly - this is the look we at Ouno Design call "Space Rags" Summer Glau in the (tragically) cancelled Firefly sci fi series by Joss Whedon. From gawker

Have you ever noticed that the further out you go in space and time—outer space and/or the far distant future—the more everyone is dressed like nomads, desert warriors, agrarian herders or medieval warriors… or Romans? Why this inversion of the time continuum? Is it because sci-fi is really more about mapping our historical struggles onto the present than about our future? The more things change, the more they seem… very, very old. For lack of a better term, “space rags” is my shorthand for the sci-fi fashion component of this phenomenon.

The Middle-Earth-Meets-Ancient Greece-Meets-Mongolian nomad-Meets-Outer-Space look includes one or more of the following:

• emphasis on handwoven and/or metallic textiles,
• hand-stitched clothing with couture-level detailing;
• hemp tunics, asymmetrical jackets in rough cotton;
• handmade/pre-20thC leather boots
• yokes reminiscent of breastplates
• utility straps and belts, and weapons holsters & other militia gear
• space cowboy, space Western (the “browncoats” in Firefly, Serenity)

I am not complaining here because is a fact that everyone looks good in back-to-the-land spacewear. It seems to come back into fashion at regular intervals, even if men don’t seem to really follow through with it (because fashion is frivolous and power’s not?). Space rags appeared in fashion in the 90s. Will the be back, or will we just return to default 1980s nostalgia forever?

Aeon Flux, with its many Jean-Paul Gaultier-style getups, is the quintessential Space Rags movie.

Aeon Flux look

Aeon Flux look

Space Rags from local Vancouver designer Hajnalka Mandula (see also previous post) though my boyfriend also referred to her look as “pirate chef”:

It goes for props, too. From Star Trek: the Brunali genetic resequencer. Wooden obviously, because what other material would you use for a genome resequencer:

Brunali genetic resequencer, Star Trek

More Star Trek lo-fi hi-tech:

Space Rags on Star Trek

Chani of the desert Fremen tribe, from Dune.

And finally, the Space Disco variant—the famous minidress from Logan’s Run, oddly reminiscent of a short toga:

Logan's Run, space disco

“The past is not dead. It’s not even past.” etc.

Are we projecting our pre-modern past onto future quasi-utopias because we recognize some failure of our own time? Is this some sort of “path not taken” or path abandoned option?

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2 Responses to “Space Rags”

  1. Ha, finally! The 90s are the new 80s. | Ouno Design Says:

    […] See also Aeon Flux. […]

  2. Mr. Ali Says:

    Great pictures and content in regards to the Sci-Fi Costume. Perfect images to communicate my ideas for my own production design.

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