Some two decades before The Jetsons brought their animated vision of the future to the small screen, the cinemagazine Pathetone Weekly ran a featurette in which the “most famous" fashion designers in the U.S. predicted what the well-dressed woman would find herself wearing in the year 2000.
Cantilevered heels, multifunctional garments to go from office to evening wear in mere seconds, tech integrations, dresses made of aluminum and transparent net…
As one commenter on YouTube astutely observed, “Madonna wore most of these before we even reached 2000.”
As is to be expected, these futuristic fashions exhibited the flattering bias cut that we in 2019 associate with the period in which they were envisioned.
Gisele Bündchen, the top supermodel of 2000, could certainly hold her own against her glamorous 1939 counterparts, but the same cannot be said of the trucker hats, low slung jeans, velour track suits and denim everything that truly defined the look of the millennium.
The biggest loser of the year AD 2000, as envisioned by those famous designers of 1939, is the American male, whose drapey harem pants, Prince Valiant ‘do, and ill advised facial hair make George Jetson look like like Clark Gable.
The poor guy does deserve some cool points for wearing a phone, though. (It’s like they had a crystal ball!)
And his radio may well prefigure the iPod, which made its debut in 2001.
Because pockets were presumed to be going the way of the dodo (and skirts for women), a utility belt holds his keys, change, and “candy for cuties.”
This last item is surely an unnecessary burden, given the narrative emphasis on the female clothing designs' man-catching prowess.
(Imagine the 21st-century feminine disappointment when their electric headlights revealed what they’d reeled in.)
Perhaps the most useful innovation to come from this exercise is the “electric belt to adapt the body to climactic changes.”
Don’t tell 1939, but I think we’re gonna need a bigger belt.
As to the identities of the famous designers and the delightfully chatty (“Ooh, swish!”narrator), they seem to have been lost to the ages. Readers, if you have any intel, please advise.
Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Join her in New York City on April 15 for the next installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.