The Future: What Does It Wear?

2017 | Wearing Time: Past, Present, Future, Dream

Each epoch dreams the one to follow. – Jules Michelet


This strand highlights cinema as an important platform for fast-forwarding us into design futures, and the different approaches costume designers especially have taken to envisioning these. To give a concrete form to one’s idea of the future involves taking an imaginative leap that crosses the limits of the familiar. But in design terms, this also requires great resourcefulness and creativity in re-using elements that already exist, giving them a new sensibility.

For the future to speak to us, we must be able to recognise ourselves in it; it has to show itself as a strange version of the present. ‘Futureness’ can be flamboyant or restrained but it has to be simultaneously convincing and ‘out of this world’. Since the future is yet to be realised, our vision of it, above all, reflects a view of our present: what it lacks, what might be possible and also our desire for something different.



Space is the Place

15:00, 12 March, Rio Cinema
Introduced by Roger K. Burton
Tickets here

Space is the Place is a rare, unmissable trash culture, science fiction classic. Starring the Afrofuturism jazz star Sun Ra, this loosely based biopic offers the uninitiated a tantalising glimpse into his fantastical world. More »

Ikarie XB-1

20:45, 14 March, Prince Charles Cinema
Introduced by the festival co-curator Marketa Uhlirova
Tickets here

Ikarie XB-1 is an ambitious science fiction space opera, possibly best known for prefiguring many visual and thematic motifs of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. This ‘Space Marienbad’, as one critic called it, perfectly epitomises an era defined by a raging space race and cultural competition between the East and the West. More »

Things to Come

20:45, 15 March, Prince Charles Cinema
Introduced by Sir Christopher Frayling
Tickets here

Although the streamline moderne style, which has come to define Things to Come in popular imagination, appears only in its final part set in 2036, it makes a profound visual impact. The ‘age of mechanical perfection’ (in H.G. Wells’ words) is overwhelmingly white in both architecture and clothing, cutting a serene image of a world cleansed of manual labour, disease and suffering. More »


20:00, 19 March, Curzon Bloomsbury
With an introduction and readings from Nelli Fomina: Costumes for the Films of Andrei Tarkovsky (2015) by Anastasija Nikitina
Tickets here

In contrast to the technotopian sci-fi productions of the 1950s and 60s, Tarkovsky’s Solaris offered to early-1970s audiences a completely fresh take on a future world of inter-stellar travel. Within the genre, the film is uncharacteristically sombre and understated in its preference for familiar, ‘human’ imagery of nature and 16th century Flemish painting over the exotically new. More »


14:00, 25 March, Barbican Centre
Introduced by Christopher Laverty
Tickets here

Barbarella testifies to a time in which a profound fascination with technological possibilities of the future had permeated mass culture. Based on Jean-Claude Forest’s racy comic serial, Vadim’s film details the adventures of a beautiful, kinky ‘cosmic queen’ in the distant future of the year 40,000. More »