One of the pleasures of sci-fi films is noting the speculation of the look of future societies, always a reflection of the time at production. If you were watching sci-fi in the 1960s, you learned that people of our time were to be decked out in bubble hats, mini-dresses and jumpsuits while walking down pristine white corridors toward brightly lit chambers full of blinking room-sized computers. No one thought that technology might be getting smaller and smaller. Or that we'd all be emulating sloppy 70s wear. Well, except for Woody Allen in "Sleeper," who envisioned an autodidactic U.S. full of junk-food-eating consciousness-raising lay-abouts.
Today we will explore fashion predictors of the distant past and their vision for our present look of today. Brought to you by Exit to Tomorrow by Andrew Garn, Paola Antonelli, Udo Kultermann and Stephen Van Dyke--a collaborative effort on Universe Press that covers the architecture, design and fashion of World's Fairs from 1933 to 2005. (I found this book at Half Price Books--a full-color futuristic steal!).
The first thing you need to know, is that in 1939, designer Walter Dorwin Teague saw ladies of 2000 wearing see-through clothes, due to "universal air conditioning and better bodies." Makes sense to me! Must have been an anomaly though--not everyone lives in a warm climate, Walter Dorwin Teague. And what about formal wear?
Look no further! Designer Henry Dreyfuss not only envisioned a see-through evening-gown future, but predicted that women would want to dress as dolls, complete with personal fan/compact at their disposal. I'm beginning to think the World's Fair was kind of an excuse for soft-porn wishful thinking. Prove me wrong!
Oh, OK. So menswear is not see-through. Not at all, despite central air and "better bodies." This guy has an antennae-snatching radio hat and his socks are disposable. I'm getting turned on all right.
Through the magic of YouTube and today's high-speed Internet connections, we can watch these future visions in action in the short film "Clothing of the Future, the Year 2000."
I hope you found that inspiring. Let's take a look at future outerwear of 1939's World's Fair. What's in store for us? Heat-generating coat-linings? Emergency shelter supplies in a secret pocket?
No, it's see-through! I imagine Harvey Gibson, chairman of the board of the New York World's Fair, was saying something along the lines of, "Your futuristic underpants are simply divine, Miss!" And so they are!
Montreal's '67 World's Fair would have us matching our clothing to nearby architecture. Ooh, I'd hate to be standing next to the former AAA building in San Francisco when this trend comes into play.
Jump ahead to the 1970 Osaka World's Fair. What's the fashion story? Looks like head-to-toe metallics are in! And buildings are laughing. Still waiting for these trends to fully kick in.
We've bypassed the year 2000. What are we going to wear? According to Japan's 2005 World's Fair, nobody cares because the future belongs to sexy mini-skirted, go-go boots-wearing robots in support pantyhose. Maybe there's still time to revive the see-through gown phenomenon before the robots completely take over.