Today in History: Man and the Moon

Original Caption: “An Apollo 12 astronaut stands beside the United States flag on the surface of the moon. November 19, 1969” (Corbis).

39 years ago today, man landed on the moon for the second time. Apollo 12 followed the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had become the first humans to land on the Moon. According to the Smithsonian’s online exhibition, the Apollo mission spacesuits were well-researched, and made with a mix of new and old materials. Some might consider these early techno-textiles:

“Many textiles used in space suits were invented prior to the space program. The Du Pont Company developed neoprene synthetic rubber in 1932, almost thirty years before the first manned spaceflight. Nylon and Teflon were invented in 1938. Following World War II, Du Pont introduced Mylar, in 1959, Lycra spandex fiber, and in 1963, Nomex. All of these materials were used in the Apollo space suit. Following the tragic Apollo 1 fire, researchers sought materials more resistant to very high temperatures. In 1962, the Dow-Corning Company produced Beta silica fiber, a material like fiberglass, except that it would not irritate the skin of the wearer. For the outer covering of the Apollo space suit, Beta silica fiber was coated with Teflon to create Beta Cloth”


The exploration of space led to a new interest in the future, and in a new design aesthetic: Space-Age Fashion. Movies had long been obsessed with the ‘last frontier,’ but the late 1960s and early 1970s produced a wealth of new designs based on this idea.

“1968 film Barbarella, with Jane Fonda in tights, bodysuit (with “exposed” right breast plate), cape, boots and holding a plastic helmet.” (Costume Design by Jacques Fonteray and Fashion Designer Paco Rabanne).

While often more interested in the aesthetic, that in the new textiles,designers such as Paco Rabanne, André Courrèges, Pierre Cardin and Rudi Gernreich created the epitome of space-age couture. Search for these and other designers, at the Met Costume Institute Collection, here.

André Courrèges

Dec. 1, 1967

Pierre Cardin, 1970 (Met, C.I.

Until next time,


Heather is a contributor to the newly released Greenwood Encyclopedia Clothing through American History, 1900 to the Present.

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