Ground Control to Major Tom

10 Things about the history of the spacesuit

7142952481_e3667b809b_o

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but there seems to be a lot of astronaut movies coming out right now. Maybe it’s because of the renewed interest in manned space missions since the success of the Mars Curiosity mission last year, I don’t know.It kind of feels like it’s 1998 again. But have you ever wondered how they designed the spacesuit? It’s become a pretty iconic look in its own right, in both science fiction and other cultural contexts. Thom Browne even closed his first Paris menswear show in 2010 with models walking down the runway in spacesuits.

1//Space Odyssey
The first spacesuit was designed for the Mercury missions (1958-1963). They were only meant to be worn inside the spacecraft in case of cabin pressure loss, so they are much less bulky than the spacesuits we know today. Made of aluminized nylon, which gives them a very distinct metallic sheen, the Mercury suits consisted of a helmet, lace up boots, and gloves. Stylistically speaking, they’re much more Lost in Space than Armageddon.

2//Space Chimps
The Mercury spacesuit prototypes were tested on a chimpanzee named Enos. Yes, that Space Chimps movie is entirely real.

5134454695_6d96606a68_o

3//Apollo, Apollo
The Apollo space missions (1963-1972) required a different type of spacesuit than those designed for previous missions. It needed to be able to protect the wearer from the hazards of space outside the ship, which include things like radiation and extreme heat and cold, and they needed a suit that had its own life support. The Gemini spacesuit, which came before Apollo’s, could withstand a space walk, but mobility was limited because the life support was through the ship via a hose. Not very practical, and done away with entirely for the Apollo missions.

4//Intergalactic Layers
The final design features about a million layers. The first is a water-cooled nylon undergarment to regulate your body temperature. Then you put on a multilayered pressure suit with three layers – lightweight nylon, neoprene coated nylon, and regular nylon. On top of that there are 5 layers of alumized Mylar interwoven with four layers of Dacron for heat protection, two more layers of Dacron for further heat protection, and then two layers of Teflon to protect the suit from rips. This process takes about 45 minutes. The boots of the Apollo suit differ from those of past missions, because they’re designed to be able to walk on rocky terrain.

7142970885_3b54ed6257_o

5//EVA Suits
These suits have come to be known as EVA (Extravehicular Activity) suits, and have been used on pretty much every manned mission since Apollo, and have been made by ILC Dover since the 60s. ILC also makes NASA’s shuttle suits.

6//Colour Me Orange
The bright orange “pumpkin suits,” or Advanced Crew Escape Suits, are only meant to be worn within the shuttle during takeoff and landing. These suits are orange because it makes it easier to spot the wearers in case a search and rescue needs to be done. Underneath these are usually a g-suit, a tight fitting dark green suit filled with inflatable bladders that are designed to keep the wearer’s blood from pooling in their legs while in periods of high acceleration. When astronauts are just chilling in the shuttle, they wear Air Force issue flight suits.

7//Why White?
In a similar fashion, EVA suits are white because it reflects heat and stands out in the blackness of space.

8//Sputnik Baby
Russia and China, the only other two nations with manned space programs, have their own custom spacesuits. In Russia cosmonauts wear the Sokol suit for launch and landing, and the Orlan suit for space walks. Both are white. NASA sometimes also uses these suits. Chinese astronauts wear Feitan suits, which are modeled after the Orlan suit, and a landing suit based on the Sokol.

9//The Future
NASA has recently been testing new prototypes for deep space and Mars missions. They recently contracted ILC to make them the T-2, a prototype that is meant for deep space missions, and is more flexible and comfortable than EVA suits.

10//A Spacesuit On Its Own
There is a spacesuit that has been made into a satellite. Called the SuitSat, it was an Orlan suit that was recommissioned as a cheap satellite. It was launched into space on February 3, 2006, but has since been pulled back into our atmosphere and burned up.

7142950875_22c904112d_o


//Extra Credit Reading List

“Why are Astronauts Spacesuits Orange?” by Clara Moskowitz (LiveScience). June 2, 2010.

“NASA’s Spacesuits Through the Years: Photos.” by Irene Klotz (Discovery News). May 3, 2013.

“History of U.S. Spacesuits.” by the Man-Vehicle Laboratory, MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (mit.edu). March 17, 1997.

“NASA – The History of Spacesuits.” by Unknown. (nasa.gov). September 16, 2008.

Lashing Out

Ten Things About the History of False Eyelashes

If the eyes are the window to the soul, then throughout history we’ve been obsessed with the curtains. From Ancient Egypt to worldwide use today, our eyelashes have consistently been subject to enhancement. Accenting the eye can protect from the elements, embolden our gaze, prove our social status, or be a part of makeup as play. If it includes gluing tiny pieces of hair to the tiniest hairs on our face, then so be it. Below, ten moments in time that mark significant advances in the falsifying of our lashes.

1 // Cleopatra Sets the Standard
Accentuating the eye and lashes were popular pastimes among Ancient Egyptians, using dark kohl liner to heavily line all around the eyes. Not just for show, the makeup technique was also necessary for protection against the harsh desert sun.

2 // Controversial Victorian Gal
In the mid-Victorian era, the French demimondaine, or “it girl” of the time, used paint to whiten her face, rouge her cheeks and lips, and line her eyes. She also was said to have worn false lashes. This look was bemoaned by the conservatives at the time, as it conflicted greatly with their feminine ideals of “natural” beauty. Plenty of “tsk-tsking” went on, such as in the Chambers’ Journal written by William and Robert Chambers. They specifically had a bone to pick with Madame Rachel, a woman who could be considered one of the first makeup artists, as she was said to have been paid well for “enamelling” a lady’s face. The Chambers brothers referred to layering colour on the face as “living lies” and “the instrument of deception”.

3 // Lashes Get Their Big Break
Lashes were made mainstream in 1919 when makeup artist Max Factor enhanced actress Phyllis Haver’s lashes by sewing real hair onto her own. He is still credited with creating the first false lashes, though director D.W. Griffith had requested false lashes for actress Seena Owen on the set of his 1916 movie Intolerance. (He’d hoped to create the effect of her lashes “sweeping onto her cheeks.”) Factor’s early experience as a wigmaker and that he was a famous movie makeup artist are likely what made it catch on three years later, giving him all the glory to this day.

4 // It’s the ’30s – Girls Go Wild!
Vogue both recommended blue mascara for grey-haired ladies and mentioned the availability of false eyelashes of “bewildering length” to its readership in the early ’30s. The magazine also suggested eyelash “irons,” the earlier term for eyelash curlers, so that one could curl her own.

5 // Did Grandma Have a Pair?
False lashes became very widely used in the early ’50s. Glamorous bombshells and film stars were said to wear them both day and night, often using a full set for night and then, the next morning, separating them into individuals for day use. The popularity of film stars and the growth of big beauty brands made the look more accessible to and popular among the masses.

6 //The Skinny on Twiggy
’60s supermodel Twiggy’s painted-on lower lashes and full top-set (often three pairs on top of each other) sparked a major trend which became her iconic look, still referenced in editorials today. Toward the end of the decade, Helena Rubinstein advertised a set of false lashes called “Shaggy” Minute Lashes which came with an applicator. Beauty brand Andrea, which still makes false lashes today, advertised 21 pairs of false lashes available in both black and brown, even including a glitter strip that could be applied to the top of any pair. As Andrea’s ad explained, “Because no two women are alike…”

7 // Minimalism Can’t Stop Us
In the ’90s, a minimal makeup look was popular. A natural beauty in a slip dress, butterfly hair clips, and combed through, lightly mascacra-ed lashes (we’re thinking of you, Drew Barrymore), was the look, but artist Kevyn AuCoin used  expertly applied false lashes to completely transform the faces of celebrities in his books, The Art of Makeup and Face Forward. In the latter, he used a “spiky set” of falsies in which the lashes were clumped together, turning supermodel Christy Turlington into Marisa Berenson’s twin, noting in the how-to section that individual lashes could be applied along the lower lash line as well. A full set was also used to transform Hilary Swank into a dead-ringer for Raquel Welch.

8 // Lashes Hit a Lo
In 2001, J-Lo’s Red Fox Fur lashes made by Shu Uemura at the Academy Awards were flown in for her, causing controversy due to the material and the expense. They also started a buzz for luxe lashes, and were a catalyst for Uemura opening Tokyo Lash Bar, a high-end counter with seasonal lash collections, in 2004.

9 // So Shu Me!
In 2009, Madonna wore a mink and diamond pair of lashes (once again by guru Shu Uemura) which cost $10 000. Some of us balked at the extravagance, while others didn’t bat an eyelash, snatching up the 1000 pairs produced until they were sold out. 2009 also saw models on the fall runways bedazzled on the lash front, in tulle and sequins at Chanel by makeup artist Peter Philips, to outrageous fluttering lengths at Dior by makeup artist Pat McGrath. Both Milan’s Dolce & Gabbana and Versace (also styled by Pat McGrath) featured enhanced versions that seemed more typically glamour girl compared to the former, but which still helped created high demand that season for falsies.

10 // Lash Blast
Today, embellished and extravagant pairs are as readily available as high heels, and are used by performers regularly. Editorials consistently feature lashes made of feathers and mixed materials, like Paperself’s paper versions. Lash Bars are now springing up in urban centers, providing lash-only services from dying, to application, to extensions. Lashes have peaked and are now available for anyone – whatever your fancy and budget.

text// Andrea Victory-LaCasse (AVL)
images // Larissa Haily Aguado

Our Lips Aren’t Sealed

10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Lipstick

A lot has happened in the 5000 years since the dawn of lip paint. Wars, corruption, harem pants—the list goes on, and somehow, lipstick has survived. But everyone seems to have an opinion on it—Sarah Palin calls it the distinguishing factor between hockey moms and pitbulls. Holly Golightly can’t read the paper without it. Yes, we have very intimate relationships with our rouges, and below, you’ll find our list of 10 facts that’ll blow your mind about this colourful cosmetic.

1 // Don’t Forget Your Lipstick, Mummy!
Cleopatra used henna and carmine to paint her lips, and in her time, women were encouraged to be buried with two pots of lip paint so they would look good on the other side.

2 // Red-Lip District
The Moulin Rouge may have been hoppin’ in the 19th century, but alcohol-, prostitute-, and lipstick-induced good times date back to the Ancient Greeks (and perhaps even earlier). For the Greeks, though, the cosmetic was popular amongst women of the night, coming to signify poor social standing and low morals.

3 // Lipstick for the Lawless
At one point, wearing lipstick was actually illegal. During the French Revolution, lopping the head off a king may have been acceptable, but lipstick was completely banned. Wearing it was considered to be sympathetic to the monarch, and anyone caught with it was condemned to the guillotine. To borrow a line: off with their heads!

4 // Hot off the Production Line
Women (and a fair amount of men) added the cosmetic to their daily beauty routines in 1880, when French company Guerlain produced the first commercially successful lipstick. It was composed of a mouth-watering mixture of grapefruit pomade and wax.

5 // Portable Beauty
Women’s handbags welcomed a new addition in 1915, when Maurice Levy designed the first sliding metal tube. Thanks to this innovation, applying lipstick in public became socially acceptable. Instead of lugging pots of lip paint around, women could bring the convenient little tube with them wherever they went.

6 // Ain’t no Stalin our Lipstick Production
Lipstick experienced a resurgence of popularity after World War I, when women wanted to maintain their femininity while taking on new roles in the workforce. Fast forward to the next World War, and lipstick is prioritized by good ol’ Churchill when he rations all makeup—except for the precious tubular commodity. He felt it boosted morale on the homefront.

7 // Lipstick Fit for a Queen
Lipstick became a coveted Crown gem in 1952, when Elizabeth II commissioned her own shade to match her coronation robes. The royal rouge was named Balmoral after her Scottish country home.

8 // Lady in Red
On her film sets, Elizabeth Taylor required that she be the only person wearing red lipstick. Everyone else would have to wear a different shade or none at all.

9 // A Moment on the Lips, Forever on the Hips
A whopping 92 per cent of women wear lipstick regularly and buy an average of four tubes a year. But this magical substance doesn’t just stay on your lips; the average woman consumes four to nine pounds of lipstick in her lifetime, making the inside just as pretty as the outside. Not.

10 // Read my Lips
According to Dior makeup artist Eliane Gouriou, different lipstick colours convey different messages. Beige means “I don’t want to be noticed for this aspect of my personality.” Red evokes the feeling that “I have sensual and luscious lips, which I accept and which I offer.” Dark brown or violet means “I provoke, I impose, but my mouth is not to be touched.” Our thoughts? Let your lips, not your lipstick, do the talking.

photography // Stephanie Chunoo & Tabitha Poeze

further reading // Lipstick: A Celebration of the World’s Favourite Cosmetic. Jessica Pallington, 1998

More is More

10 things about the Great Canadian Burlesque

Surrounded by suitcases bursting with incandescent crystal-laden braziers and fluttering ostrich-feather fans, trays of pasties, and women decked out in the best of pin-up vogue, it was like I had stepped into a different era. A warm era, with soft curls and hard eyeliner. I spoke with a handful of next-to-naked women of the Great Canadian Burlesque (GCB) troupe, getting ready to trade their bodies for applause and whistles that night at the Mod Club. I was dazzled by the flashy costumes, so delicate and intricate up close; and by the dancers themselves, who were stunning, with confidence and charisma any stage performer would aspire to have. I settled in to watch my first burlesque show, unsure of what was to come. By the end, I was cheering louder than anyone, completely caught up in the electrifying atmosphere and the sex that filled the air. However, I did manage to learn a thing (or 10) during my time with the talented ladies (and men) of the GCB.

1 // More is more
When it comes to burlesque costumes, you can never have too much of anything. Performers adhere to the three S’s like religion: sequins, shine, and shimmer. “The flashier the better,” says Fionna Flauntit, GCB performer, founder, and producer. Costumes are over the top, both in theme and application. There’s more Swarovski crystals at a burlesque show than a Michael Jackson impersonator convention (Miss Mitzy Cream’s Glamophone outfit has over 43,000 of them, trimmed with plenty of 18-ply ostrich feathers). “In any other application it would be cheesy as hell, but in the burlesque world, it’s perfect,” laughs Flauntit. But performers exaggerate the theme of their characters, too. Ms. Chaos Divine’s black widow costume, whose black nail polish was drying as we spoke, incorporates a spider web-cut leather corset and garter belt, a spider’s nest fascinator, complete with floralytes, a bouquet of roses I’m assuming for the funeral of her not-so-dearly departed (and digested) husband and a spider perched on top. Oh and spider-web pasties just for good measure.

2 // Face time
Makeup is an important part of every performer’s ensemble. It can contribute thematically to the character, like in Cherry Typhoon’s geisha routine, or simply enhance the drama of a performer’s look, like the seductive Sassy Ray. Performers sometimes paint themselves from head to… well, you can imagine… in which case makeup is one of the most prominent features of an act.

It gets heated onstage under the spotlights, so makeup needs to cover sheen, while amplifying facial features with fake eyelashes and gauche blush so even the audience at the back can see. Veteran Miss Mitzy does her own makeup meticulously in a little bathroom above the stage before the show (pantless, I might add), smudging foundation and powder onto her cheeks and forehead, and carefully applying dramatic eye makeup. Some performers like Miss Mitzy use their own products from home, while others have their makeup done professionally. Coco Framboise had her Cleopatra-inspired visage crafted by Stacey Laureyssens, a Toronto-based stage makeup artist and owner of theOriginalFace. The decision to use a makeup artist or DIY can depend on the complexity of the performer’s character, and how big a part the makeup plays during the performance. Hint: Flauntit’s Mystique costume is pretty heavy on the makeup.

3 // Size/age is just a number
Perhaps in response to the rail-thin young white models that grace most of our runways and fashion spreads today, burlesque has joined the ranks of counter-culture, frequently offering up a diverse array of performers that vary in size, ethnicity, and age. From size 2′s to 24′s, GCB succeeds in showcasing women from all walks of life that defy conventional beauty: black, white, Asian and Latin women, PYTs to impressive legends Tiffany Carter (Miss Nude Universe 1975) and Tempest Storm (one of the most iconic women in the industry). I think Forrest Gump once said that burlesque is like a box of chocolates. And he was right.

4 // A pastie party

Pasties are pieces of material that performers use to cover their nipples. The tradition of wearing pasties is about as old as burlesque itself; troupes in the 1920s used them as a way to get around moral laws of the time (no nip, no foul, right?). They come in countless forms—like the traditional conical shape, hearts, stars, X’s, alpha letters, or just plain glitter—and can encompass various features, from dangling tassels that spin rhythmically with any slight upper body movement, to the flaming ones that Tanya Cheex courageously dons. Dancers can buy them online, or locally from women like Cheex or Patte Rosebank, who make them by hand and sell them on platters at events. They are attached securely to the breast using double-sided adhesive tape, or wig-tape, which occasionally can be painful to remove. But it’s better than having them fly off during a particularly intense twirl.

5 // To prop or not to prop
A giant gramophone complete with rotating platform. A feathered crown composed of removable fans. A classic stripper pole. Depending on the performer, acts can incorporate varying degrees of accessories. Some performances keep it simple, involving only a chair or an umbrella filled with rose petals, a choice that puts more focus on the dancer’s choreography. Others lean toward the more sublime of sets, like Divine’s subterranean lair, a world rife with jars full of creepy crawlies, baroque furniture, and gloomy drapery. Coco Framoise included some “sex slaves” as props in her Cleopatra routine, and Sauci Calla Horra used her male volunteer’s (ahem) props to juice some lemons.

Choosing to use props can depend on the context of the routine: they can get in the way of choreography-heavy performances like those of troupes (the Harlettes, Glamourpuss Burlesque), but they can add to the laughs in more comedic acts. I’m certain old Will Shakespeare would approve of the glitter shower Akynos (the Incredible Edible) gave herself on stage, or Miss Mitzy’s baby that poops and vomits crystals.

6 // The show must go on
What happens if a performer steps on her hem and her whole outfit unravels, or a pastie flies into the crowd? “You just roll with it and make it look like it was meant to be,” says Flauntit. It helps that burlesque is rooted in comedy, but having to stop to wrench open a zipper mid-act sort of kills the mood. Not many women have the issue of unfastening a zipper (it’s generally the opposite we struggle with, trying to fit into too tight jeans). But Divine has experienced that one. “I think the mark of a seasoned performer is one who can manage a costume mishap, because it’s going to happen,” she says. And there’s always wig tape and safety pins for quick fixes. Worst case scenario, a performer pulls a Janet and the audience gets an eyeful. But something tells me they wouldn’t mind.

7 // Howling at the moon(s)
Wolfman, like his time-honoured shark fin suit(?) that he purchased at Winners for Girlesque 6, is a mainstay within the GCB organization, though he came into his role almost by fate. Playing off a nickname bestowed upon him by bullies in his adolescence, Wolfman had pitched a song to the fledgling company to use on stage. Back then, GCB was spookier (Miss Mitzy “Scream” was a vampire, and founder/producer Chris Mysterion, a local mentalist, hosted the shows), and the werewolf thing kind of fit. Before long, Wolfman started hosting due to a chance double-booking, and the rest is history. Like many others in the industry, though maybe more appropriately, he moonlights at the burlesque shows, and graces the stage of many other events locally, emceeing everything from rock shows and magazine launches to animal rescue events and fundraisers. Awoo!

8 // The stuff characters are made of
A sexy song, an entertaining figure in the media, an especially inspirational fabric: burlesque performers’ characters are born in many ways. Flauntit found a particularly hideous dress in a thrift shop (crushed velvet, lime green, over $300 of crystals sewn on). But with some alterations, it was perfect for her Green Lady performance. Divine is occasionally motivated by chakras and energy, or deep emotions like heartbreak, but more often by the costume itself as she pieces it together. “The character usually develops as I start creating the costume and start rehearsing,” she explains. “It’s funny how I can feel myself changing into something else, and embodying whatever I’m doing after I put the costume on.” Sometimes the performance is entirely about the costume, like Miss Mitzy’s self-described look at my pretty outfit routine. But each performer has an extensive rotation of characters they can embody on any given night. Miss Mitzy has over 65 different acts, each with its own costume. You can imagine her closet!

9 // Hand-made-ens
It’s rare that a performer can find exactly what she needs off the rack. There is a strong DIY culture in burlesque, as women often need to alter a fantastic thrift shop find to fit their measurements, or adorn it with crystals or bows. There are performers on a shoestring budget who you would never guess shopped at Dollarama, thanks to their darn-ed skills. Some performers are quite talented seamstresses, like Divine, who has been sewing and putting on fashion shows since she can remember. Most of her outfits have dual purposes, starting as one thing and then transforming into something else. “I like having versatility in the way I look,” she says, and like many performers, she would not wear something straight off the rack. Other performers may not have the skills themselves, and so employ others in the industry to create their costumes based on their direction. “I’m horrible at it, I’m hopeless at making costumes,” admits Miss Mitzy, whose glamaphone outfit was created by fellow performer and costume designer, Patte Rosebank. Alternatively, performers can shop at various specialty stores, like Danger Dame or Lip Service, and piece together an outfit like a puzzle.

10 // All the dance classes in the world…
When it comes down to it, a burlesque performance isn’t just about one thing. It’s about the way the costume, the makeup, the choreography, and the sex appeal all come together. “It’s the whole package, it’s about how you feel on stage and how you come off on stage to the audience,” says Flauntit. It takes guts to get up on stage in a room full of people and take your clothes off. It’s seemingly simple, but it’s hard to do well, in a way that makes the audience laugh, get turned on, and widen their eyes in awe at the same time. “You know, you have to have the charisma, and the audience loves to see when you’re enjoying yourself,” Flauntit emphasizes. “You could have the most elaborate costume, but if you don’t have stage presence and the personality… Personality is the one thing you can’t teach people.”

photography // Claire Ward-Beveridge