Icons / September 2019

The Flair Up There: 20th Century Spaceman Style

Can you name a modern-day astronaut? It’s not a trick question. The Rake pilots a time machine to the mid 20th century – the glory days of space exploration – when the men with the right stuff became international celebrities and style icons.

Deke Slayton during the Appollo-Soyuz test project, 1975. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Buzz Aldrin may have been the second man to walk on the moon, but he was, at least, the first astronaut to walk the New York Fashion Week runway. Two years ago, the space exploration pioneer whose personal style is of a more bohemian bent, with gangsta levels of jewellery moved throughs Earth gravity at a steady enough pace for an 87-year-old dressed in (what else) a metallic silver jacket from designer Nick Grahams Life on Mars collection. And, yes, Aldrin still looked like a bit of a dude. 

Even if we barely know the names of spacemen and women today, we know that NASAs Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programmes set a high bar for style, not least because they made national celebrities of the individuals chosen to fly literally out of this world and of their families. The New York Times noted how the astronauts quickly came to embody great US of A values, the likes of duty, faith and country: Nobody went away from these young men scoffing at their courage and idealism, it noted. And such was the hype that even their children became famous. Teen magazine ran an exclusive on Carolyn Glenn: Astronaut John Glenns Daughter Reveals Why Shes Way Out in Orbit! 

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Josh Sims

Josh Sims is a writer on menswear, design and much else for the likes of Wallpaper, CNN, Robb Report and The Times. He's the author of several books on menswear, the latest 'The Details', published by Laurence King. He lives in London, has two small children and is permanently exhausted.