From Metropolis to Matrix: the influence of science fiction on fashion

27 August 2019 | Posted by Zackary

Last winter, MOSCHINO surfs on the aesthetics of the 60's. True to the style of this decade, the wardrobe is mainly composed of coordinated outfits, candy pink coats, sleeveless dresses with gloves and hats... Each model looks like a modern reincarnation of Jackie Kennedy, apart from one detail: the clones have their bodies covered in orange, blue, green or fuchsia paint.

Called Alien Nation, the collection invites Roswell to Milan. According to some theories, Marilyn Monroe was murdered by the FBI after JFK confided on the pillow about an alien life. With this show, the brand feeds the conspiracy: what if it was the First Lady, a polished icon worshipped by the bourgeoisie, who actually came from another planet...?

Two months ago, it is Rick Owens' turn. In a post-apocalyptic show, which the designer himself defines as " grim and glamorous ", he lends the models facial prostheses, somewhere between Stargate and Doctor Who. Meanwhile, the designer-couple Fecal Matter visits VOGUE, and guest-stars in the A$AP Rocky and FKA Twigs video. The price of their « skin heels » boots? $10,000.

If science fiction sometimes predicts the future of society, can it do the same for our wardrobes?

Metropolis à la mode

(From top to bottom: Metropolis movie poster; Thierry Mugler FW95; Givenchy FW99; Versace outfits at the 2016 MET Gala.)

Everything begins with Metropolis: in a tyrannical oligarchy of the 21st century, an inventor imagines a fembot who will free the people. Released in 1927, the dystopic masterpiece is considered to be the very first feature film of its kind. An ode to Art Deco, its aesthetics will inspire both directors and designers. Laying the foundations for an extension between man and machine, his vision still shapes our approach to the transhumanist style... 

At the dawn of millennium bug, Alexander McQueen, then at Givenchy, opts for a transparent version enhanced with printed circuits. Karl Lagerfeld pays tribute to the film during a shooting for VOGUE Germany. For Thierry Mugler, the android is a recurring figure, increasingly sensual, more naked, when Donatella Versace adorns tuxedos with metal inserts.

Yet it takes a lot of confidence — and a wallet to match it — to pull out a street cyborg look. So, are there more conventional trends that we owe to sci-fi?

Ruined by Blade Runner

(Top to bottom: Blade Runner; Givenchy FW98; Blade Runner; Raf Simons SS18.)

Misunderstood at first, Blade Runner develops a real cult over time, and even gets a sequel with Ryan Gosling thirty-five years later.

His approach to wardrobe marks a turning point with other films in this vein: one doesn't wear an iron dress, nor a immaculate white vinyl jumpsuit. The outfits design is entrusted to Michael Kaplan, who will later work on Fight Club and Star Wars. His prowess? Without giving in to clichés, he conceives a futuristic style based on past influences, combined with punk, contemporary to the shooting. Its heroines reintroduce the ultra-padded shoulder skirt suit of the 1940s, contributing to the image of the working girl and her power dressing. We can also spot a transparent PVC trench coat, long before Valentino makes it one of his classics. Meanwhile, Raf Simons replicates the illuminated handle umbrella in his SS18 collection, to shine in the storm... 

Multi-pass the torch

(Top to bottom: The Fifth Element; Jeremy Scott FW18; The Fifth Element; Hood by Air SS16.)

In our humble opinion, The Fifth Element is the best collaboration between a director and a major house. As in Blade Runner, the costumes integrate contemporary elements to build a unique look, which evolves here towards a both futuristic and sportswear style.

Drawn by Jean-Paul Gaultier, the designer's imprint is felt on each piece. Crop tops are worn by men, giving themselves a punk flair. Obviously revealing less skin, the white bandage dress becomes a standard. Long live bleached and colored hair, mesh T-shirts, transparent shirts for men, and the life-jacket shade of orange so dear to streetwear.

Welcome to the Matrix

(From top to bottom: Matrix; Dior FW99 Couture; Alexander Wang FW18; Balenciaga FW19.)

Four months after the release of Matrix, Galliano debauches Dior for its haute couture show, with a great deal of vinyl jackets in the middle of the Château de Versailles.

Last March, just in time for the film's twentieth anniversary, it is hard not to notice Morpheus' influence on Balenciaga's FW19 collection, where long trench coats and leather trousers rub shoulders. Not to mention the famous sunglasses, with their extra-fine frames and black lenses. Well fixed on the noses of influencers obsessed with the 90s, they probably wouldn't have had the same popularity if Keenu Reeves hadn't managed to keep them while avoiding bullets in slow motion... 

Transformers at Philipp Plein, Stranger Things at Louis Vuitton... In and out of theaters, fashion perpetuates its obsession with the future. A novelty that she can already find in innovation, from smart clothes to 3D printing. Thanks to the fashion tech movement, sci-fi becomes very real. •

Hugh Hefner's and Donatella Versace's love child, I am the visible half of the duo behind ZACKARIUM. Addicted to fashion and to Lucky Strike, my mission is to guide you smoothly through the jungle of brands and catwalks.

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