Back to the Future Couture

Back to the Future 2015The day has arrived where the infamous Marty McFly appears from the past via the time-traveling DeLorean (from the 1989 film Back to the Future Part II for those not in the know). While posts online are all abuzz with the differences between what 2015 was supposed to look like versus the reality of now, I think there’s a lot to be said for how far we’ve come as a society for creativity. Sure, scientific advancements may not have us all on hoverboards, but there have been many advances in medicine and technology (hello smartphones!) that would still make Marty McFly ooo and aah.

The same, I believe, can be said of clothing design. While we don’t have self-tailoring jackets or immediate air dry, we are on the cusp of some very interesting 3D printed apparel. Not to mention more sophisticated design work than the um…’unique’ choices in the film of what 2015 clothing would look like.

Back to the Future 2015But I’d like to focus on the design aspect some more. Having studied a bit of fashion and costuming history, we have entered into an era where almost anything can be designed (and in most cases, made). With materials like worbla, neoprene, acrylic, etc. there’s more room for creative exploration by the average person. What was once relegated to Fashion Week-level couture designers, can now be made on a personal scale. How exciting!

One such exciting venue (near and dear to my heart, of course) is geek fashion design. Last year at the first annual Her Universe Geek Couture Fashion Show, geeks from all over the US creatively explored ideas of their favourite characters or fandoms in apparel form. But one such design (the winner, in fact) stood out as being perfectly appropriate for today.

Amy Beth Christenson designed and made the winning piece humorously titled, “Great Skirt, Marty!

great-skirt-marty-runwayI knew I really wanted to do a ‘Back to the Future’ outfit ’cause it was huge for me growing up. It made a big impact on me and what I wanted to do growing up,” Christenson told HitFix in an interview. (She now is a senior concept designer and visual development artist for Lucasfilm Animation.)

In lieu of doing my own interview with Christenson (I thought of the idea too late), I thought I’d showcase what I could find of the making-of this fun outfit. For the fantastic DeLorean jacket, Christenson used a very lightweight marine vinyl that had a brushed metal, stainless steel appearance and was easy to work with. To make the “exhaust vents” on the back of the jacket, she hand-quilted upholstery batting and black spandex. (My fingers hurt just thinking about it!)

GreatSkirtMartysketchThe belt features the DeLorean logo and grill on the front and tail lights on the back. Christenson 3D printed the front belt piece in plastic after digitally building it using the program, Maya.

great-skirt-marty-belt-coverOn the back of the belt, each tail light was created by layering reflective aluminum tape, clear ribbed shelf liner, and colored light gels. A frame was then 3D printed with a flexible rubber so the belt could bend easily and not break. (It’s amazing how far we’ve come to be able to custom-make accessories like this. I’m still wrapping my head around non-fabric materials, myself.)

great-skirt-marty-belt-lightsAs any Back to the Future fan knows, dramatic fire trails spit out from behind the DeLorean leaves when it revs up to travel through time. Bet you can’t guess which part of the outfit that shows up in! Christenson bought a pair of Hue black tights and airbrushed them yellow, orange and red with fabric dye. (I wish I had known about airbrushing a pair of tights rather than using actual paint and a paintbrush. Oh those tights looked horrible…)

great-skirt-martyAnd last but not least, Christenson commissioned Johnna Joy Murch to make a few matching pieces of jewelry to go with the outfit. Murch created a 4 piece set of radiation hazard earrings, a barcode choker necklace, cuff bracelet with the Mr. Fusion logo, and clutch purse which featured the DeLorean’s futuristic barcode license plate.


What fantastic times we live in to be able to create these type of things! Although I’m still waiting on my hoverboard… *stamps foot*

Photos:, Amy Beth Christenson