Dressing the Weightless Body : Subjective verticality and the disoriented experience of dress in microgravity
Design practice has historically been constrained by the assumption that designed objects, including clothing, will be made and worn in Earth gravity. The notion that designed objects have an upright state has influenced common approaches to design, including the tendency towards depiction and presentation of designed objects in elevation view, which, for fashion, is frequently understood in terms of silhouette. However, those who have experienced weightlessness, either in space travel or on board reduced gravity aircraft, describe a post-gravity experience that prompts them to revisit these assumptions and consider the extent to which future commercial space travel will liberate creative practitioners to operate at all angles and orientations. As we enter the commercial space age, fashion will be increasingly worn in a variety of gravitational conditions, and the dressed body will therefore be encountered at a variety of orientations, showcasing views of garments that are not often encountered on Earth, and that are therefore often overlooked by fashion designers. This article responds to descriptions of the post-gravity experience by identifying the need to consider alternative views of the clothed body, and consequently to define garments without reference to the silhouette in fashion design for the new commercial space age.