2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
Stanley Kubrick’s epic 2001: A Space Odyssey changed the way we think about cinema, as well as the world around us. Stylistically sharp and light-years ahead of its time, it inspired a generation in the midst of rapid cultural and technological development to think beyond the confines of their own world. And it continues to do so today. But how did a film that critics ripped to shreds when it was first released go on to become the de facto Science Fiction movie, and influence countless pioneers in the world of fashion and music for years to come? We delve deep into the style legacy of 2001 to see how it captured the imagination of the world…
Illustrations by Rupert Smissen | Words by Goodhood Creative
DIRECTOR PROFILE: STANLEY KUBRICK
BORN - 26th July 1928, Manhattan, New York City
DIED - 7th March 1999, Hertfordshire, England
ROUTE INTO FILM - Apprentice photographer for Look magazine from 1964 followed by a photographic career into the early 1950s.
Produced short films (1951-1953), then early features (1953-1955) before breaking into Hollywood with The Killing (1956)
KNOWN FOR - 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Dr. Strangelove (1964), The Shining (1980)
FAMOUS QUOTE - If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed
No matter how sleek the latest iPhone may look, there’s a certain futurism to 2001 that will remain difficult to surpass. The film came to define the ‘aesthetic of tomorrow’, and shaped ideas of what the future beyond 1968 would actually look like. Let’s not forget, Kubrick was making 2001 right in the middle of the Space Race; a cultural, technological, and Cold war. A world of ‘60s futurism where magazine adverts for white goods seemed more like life on Mars than life in Anytown, USA was not at odds with a film that depicted an era when you could video call your family whilst en route to the moon.
But translating that onto the big screen was no mean feat. After all, it was an age when everything had to be made or physically manipulated, a time before digital technology could provide the sort of special effects witnessed in modern cinema. But Kubrick got it right, and the world he envisioned is scarily believable. In any case, the director’s fans would be quick to point out that he came up with the iPad and Siri long before Apple did. Try and imagine what the world will look like in 2050. Hard, isn’t it? It’s no wonder conspiracy theorists quickly came to allege that Kubrick had helped stage the Apollo 11 moon landing...
SHOP TOMORROW's APPAREL
Waterproof nylon taffeta fabric. Reflective sleeve patches. Multiple zipped pockets. Contrast orange and navy panelling.
2001's modernist outfits by Hardy Amies.
Whilst the film’s wardrobe had the air of modernist marvels Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges, costumes were actually designed by Hardy Amies, the Saville Row tailor who was dressmaker to the Queen from her ascension to the throne in 1952 until his retirement in 1989. Whilst Amies may be perceived as a traditionalist, the collaboration between him and Kubrick isn’t as surprising as it sounds. Kubrick, ever the perfectionist, wanted the best. And what’s better than the Royal Household’s tailor?
Block colour, square cuts, egg-shaped hats and stripped-back detailing were key to 2001’s wardrobe, but so was a well-tailored suit. A believer in the understated, Amies felt you should be able to wear the future’s clothes to the beach, to the opera, and to the moon in equal measure. What he produced, even compared to high fashion at the time, was totally new. And yet it blends in seamlessly. Amies’ inspiration, in part, came from watching the old 1930s Flash Gordon series, along with movies like Blowup, owing to his fascination with the Beatnik look of the time. His wider influences can be attributed to the model Peggy Moffitt and the photographer William Claxton, as well as Twiggy.
It’s undeniable that Kubrick has ended up inspiring a generation of cultural icons through his epic ideas, and his epic stylistic execution. Enigmatic Japanese designer Jun Takahashi, principally of UNDERCOVER fame, is one of them, and it’s not hard to see why when you connect the dots. Takahashi had always been a fan of Western culture. On 2001, he remarked that once he finally managed to watch the whole film, having made several previous attempts, he found it amazing.
In his latest collection, Takahashi exhibits some of the most visually-striking and chilling scenes from the film that feature the monolith, transplanting it onto various notable works of art across a range of graphic tees and hoodies.
One such take centres the monolith at the heart of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Takahashi also collaborated with Eastpak, placing ‘LOGIC MEMORY CENTRE’ type, a reference to HAL 9000, across the brand’s classic backpack. Debuting at Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy, the show adapted Kubrick’s distinct, futuristic aesthetic into his own vision.
Typography seen throughout the film and UNDERCOVER's AW18 presentation.
Jun Takahashi, UNDERCOVER founder and designer.
But Takahashi wasn’t the only Japanese designer to reference Kubrick. In 1990, Takahashi met Nigo, founder of BAPE, whilst studying at Tokyo’s Bunka fashion college. The pair quickly became friends through shared interests, mainly music and clothing, and their relationship soon turned professional when they opened cult Tokyo store NOWHERE in April 1993. It was the first store to stock UNDERCOVER, and it was around the time that A Bathing Ape was conceived...
When A Bathing Ape was looking to open its first store around 1998, Nigo enlisted the help of retail designer Masamichi Katayama, who was then fairly unknown. Nigo gave Katayama remarkable freedom in designing the space in Harajuku, which was called Busy Work Shop. Overthrowing conventional theory as to what a clothing store should be, Katayama integrated elements designed to entertain and intrigue customers, such as glass stairs, chrome floors, and an inability to tell what’s inside when you’re outside. Manipulation of perspective, hovering shelves, and cool-temperature lighting were at the forefront of creating a sense of stepping into another world. “Seeing the first shop completed was a thrill,” Nigo said in a monograph about Wonderwall, Katayama’s design practice. “It was like a virtual environment made real, a space as clean as an aseptic room. The world of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey lay before me as reality.” Unsurprisingly, the pair went on to collaborate on a total of 27 A Bathing Ape stores.
Converse teamed up with Undercover with colourful takes on the Chuck Taylor All Star 70 Ox featuring 'ORDER’ and ‘DISORDER’ toe box print.
A lot has been documented on the influence of Takahashi’s UNDERCOVER and Nigo’s A Bathing Ape over the years, and it’s certain that the pair had a shared appreciation of the world of Kubrick, something that’s barely covered when looking into the world of Japanese streetwear and the Ura-Harajuku movement.
Throughout the ‘90s, BAPE was pretty hard to find outside of Japan and elicited a sense of hyper-exclusivity in the west. Key cultural influences such as Notorious B.I.G. pushed the brand and brought it to a new, English-speaking audience. Amongst those influencers was Mo’Wax boss James Lavelle...
The cult Tokyo store, opened by Takahashi and Nigo in 1993 that was the first to stock both UNDERCOVER and BAPE. Part of the Urahara (short for ura-Harajuku) movement in Japanese streetwear culture centred around several square blocks hidden between Harajuku and Aoyama in western Tokyo's Minato ward. The store stocked mostly American items, and its name came from Beatles' song 'Nowhere Man'.
Design firm specialising in retail fit-outs, established by Masamichi Katayama in 2000. Founded after a successful commision for A Bathing Ape in 1998. Has designed flagship outlets for Marc Jacobs and Uniqlo. Known for innovative, modern design that changes consumers' perception of retail. Katayama has also designed furniture, lighting, bars, and offices, as well as collaborating on studio sets for the BBC.
Listen to music from the original 2001 soundtrack
In an exclusive interview with James Lavelle, we find out how Kubrick’s vision influenced generations.
2001’s soundtrack is made up of grand and celebrated classical pieces and is frequently described as striking. Isn’t it at odds with the film’s predominantly futuristic outlook?
I first saw 2001 probably when I was about 12 or 13. It was quite mind-blowing, I was an avid watcher of science fiction as a young kid. I was watching films like Blade Runner, Tron, Alien, stuff like that, discovering them through the video store. 2001 had a huge effect on me in quite a profound way and from that, I started engaging more with the work of Stanley Kubrick.
There was an alternative soundtrack, described by the film’s producer Jan Harlan as ‘modern, electronic space music’ that Kubrick decided not to use in the film. How do you think the film would have differed had this been the soundtrack?
You know what, I reckon it probably would have dated. I think that's what he may have been concerned with. And I think that at that time it would probably have been quite kitsch. Because really, the only soundtrack that captured science fiction in an electronic way, in a timeless manner, was Vangelis’ score for Blade Runner.
You’ve stated before that Kubrick has been a guiding influence throughout your career. How did Psyence Fiction, the album you made as UNKLE, try and reflect the whole idea of sci-fi?
There's always an element of looking at human emotion and imagination within song and how you can combine those elements to create something completely unique. I think Kubrick was gifted at doing that. For me, when you're doing a record like Psyence Fiction, at one level you're trying to make a record that emotionally connects and is rooted in something real, and those are quite basic emotions. But you're trying to create a universe around it that takes you somewhere else, which was what inspired me about Kubrick's work and is how I applied his influence.
Why do you think Kubrick managed to capture the imagination of so many people?
It’s the ultimate trip. Essentially, 2001 bombed when it first came out and was horrifically reviewed. But I think what it did was it engaged with a whole generation of people who were looking outwards rather than inwards. Up and until that point, everything had been so inward. We're talking about generations coming out of the second world war, and it was one of those first films that really made you think about something which wasn't so direct and allowed your mind to escape. And I think that legacy still surrounds it now.
2018: A SPACE ODYSSEY
Kubrick refused to offer a definitive explanation of the film, instead encouraging audiences to explore their own interpretations and theories. Undoubtedly, this is one of the film’s greatest assets. Infamously, in an interview for Rolling Stone magazine, Kubrick stated “On the deepest psychological level the film’s plot symbolises the search for God, and it finally postulates what is little less than a scientific definition of God… The film revolves around this metaphysical conception, and the realistic hardware and the documentary feelings about everything were necessary in order to undermine your built-in resistance to the poetical concept.” But Kubrick wasn’t religious.
It’s hard to imagine a world without 2001, and perhaps Kubrick’s vision is more relevant today than ever. The further we progress into the future, the further into the unknown we end up. Think for a moment about technology, artificial intelligence, the internet and social media, for example. Applying 2001’s ideas to the present day should, in some sense, serve as a warning about such a pursuit. But this is at odds with how we’re fundamentally programmed to follow the light. In that sense, perhaps more than anything, Kubrick uses 2001 to challenge us to explore what it means to be human. But, then again, in the words of the director himself, you should never try to explain things you don’t understand…