Last week I got a random desire to watch Apollo 13 (1995), and it wasn’t until a day or so later that I realized it was because I subconsciously remembered it was the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Funny how that sometimes happens!
Anyway, I hadn’t watched Apollo 13 in years, so I decided it was a good time to revisit it with the distance of time and a more evolved sense of historical costuming for the late 1960s (yeah, yeah, the bulk of the action takes place in 1970, but just go with me here). One of the things I have always really appreciated about this film is that, steeped as it is in “HOORAY AMERICA” nostalgia, the story of the Apollo 13 mission is really one of success despite massive failure. Something about that always appealed to me. Also, the sets and costumes are fantastic, which is what we are really here to talk about.
Of course, one of the hardest things about this era of clothing is that, unless you’re dealing with fashion designers or rock stars, the menswear is pretty boring. Doubly so if you’re dealing with men in the military or government (check, and check), so the most interesting costumes in this movie ended up being worn by the female characters, such as Marilyn Lovell (played by Kathleen Quinlan), with a few other notable exceptions here and there.
While the costumes were designed by Rita Ryack (probably best known to historical film aficionados as the designer for the 2007 remake of Hairspray), the film utilizes a good number of vintage garments loaned by vintage clothing collector Doris Raymond, including Marilyn Lovell’s amazing pink dress that she wears for the Apollo 11 launch party she and her astronaut husband, Jim, are hosting. I am absolutely obsessed with this dress, btw.
Finally, I wanted to conclude this post with a few pictures of the real astronauts and their family members. I think it’s interesting to compare these photos with the costumes used in the film (which at that point was released only 25 years after the actual Apollo 13 mission, so the late-1960s/early-1970s aesthetic was still pretty fresh in many people’s minds).
What did you think of Apollo 13? Tell us about it in the comments!