Dedicated Followers of Intergalactic Fashion

By Spaced Angel

'Redemption' -- an interesting episode demanding discussion in its own right. But let's put aside for a moment the fulfilment of Orac's prediction and the pitfalls and perils of allowing technology to run amuck, and concentrate on the really burning issue -- clothes.

The problem stems from the episode, 'Cygnus Alpha'. From the moment Jenna comes dancing out in her new togs and tells Avon, "I found a room full of them down there", the question naturally arises to whom do they belong? Either someone very thoughtful or an individual with gender/weight issues. The range of styles and sizes is incredible. Big shirts, floaty tops, tight fits, loose fits, silk, satin, velvets, red leather, black leather, chamois leather… whatever the inclination, the Liberator's wardrobe has it all. Not surprisingly, it isn't very long before everyone is dipping into this treasure trove. By 'The Web', there are new outfits all round and Vila is pleased enough with his selection to ask Cally what she thinks of it (although the clout round the head he receives for his trouble should not necessarily be read as a personal criticism per se).

Who then was responsible for this embarrassment of riches? In reality, we know that the BBC wardrobe department was supplying all these natty outfits. However, if we search for our answer in the series, we must inevitably come back to 'Redemption'. If the Altas et al were "taking back what's theirs" as Blake puts it, we have to assume that to include the contents of the ship. So, the clothes were theirs too? Then who was wearing the stuff?

Certainly not the inhabitants of Spaceworld. The slave workforce was decked out in regulation tatters, while the Altas favoured fetching blue lycra outfits with plastic accessories. The unseen people of the three worlds run by the System might be possible candidates, although it is difficult to see a computer-based control network worrying too much about the material needs of its subjects, especially in light of what Blake is told about how the people are used. Luxury items for expendable labour? Not likely.

Clearly then, the answer to the clothing problem does not lie here. It is a minor niggle, but an annoying one at that. However, several solutions spring to mind.

1) Someone on the Liberator was a dab hand with a needle and cotton.

This fails to answer how Jenna was able to slip into a ready-made outfit in 'Cygnus Alpha', although it may account for the sudden appearance of a zip in Avon's red leather top in 'Dawn of the Gods'. Someone had to be responsible for the alteration, but who was it?

Gan, Blake and Jenna can be ruled out, given that the costumes continue into greater heights of fantastical design with the arrival of Tarrant and Dayna. Cally? Since some new outfits were already appearing before her arrival, it can be argued not. Avon? Definitely not. Even if he could, is it at all likely that he would have been altruistic enough to share his talents? Vila? Given that he went on a reconnaissance mission to the Forbidden Zone with a bright orange band strapped across his shoulders, his fashion sense (not to mention common sense) seems to be in question. There again, he does exhibit the sort of pride reserved for self-made items when asking Cally's opinion in 'The Web' as mentioned above. Viewed like this, his headaches were probably due to eyestrain from the number of needles he had to thread. No wonder he turned to drink. However, his lazy streak and aversion to work of any kind would tend to rule him out, especially with the sheer quantity of items involved.

Are individuals then responsible for their own dressmaking? They have plenty of time on their hands, given the number of hours spent travelling to and from various planets. Navel-gazing and playing board games can occupy a person for only so long, and perhaps design and creation is a welcome outlet in an otherwise static routine lightened by the occasional foray into Federation bashing.

Too mundane, I hear you argue. But then, like making beds or going to the toilet, these things do happen, so I'm told. Because we don't see it (thankfully) doesn't mean it isn't going on. The Liberator is always suspiciously tidy, suggesting that either someone has an obsession with cleaning (my bet is Avon -- see how neat he keeps his tools) or that they have a daily woman who comes to 'do' for them. Either way, someone is doing the housework. Why not the tailoring too?

2) The 'one size fits all' approach.

Perhaps what we have here is that fashion designer's nightmare of the future -- 'mood' clothes. What starts out as shapeless garb turns into something delectable depending on the wearer's taste, thus solving the age-old dilemma of "what shall I wear today?" and freeing up time for more important things, like running a rebellion.

Ridiculous? Maybe not. Zen demonstrated an ability to read Jenna's mind to come up with name of the ship. It isn't too far a stretch of the imagination to believe that something similar was created to meet clothing needs, especially as there seems to be a dearth of animals to supply the materials. The amount of leather that appears on the inhabitants of the Liberator has to be coming from somewhere. Apart from the horses seen in 'Aftermath', the appearance of leather-producing livestock is noticeable by its absence. If so, if the cows have mutated like many creatures of the future seem to have done, and escaped to some out of the way planet, then 'mood' clothes would solve the problem perfectly. This is science fiction, after all.

3) The previous inhabitants of the ship were travelling fashion reps, waging a war on indifferent clothes across the galaxy with neutron blasters and catalogues of their latest range.

This would neatly account for the treasure room on the Liberator, which seems to consist of outsized gems and costume jewellery, if the sample Avon brings to show Jenna is anything to go by. Bling bling, it seems, has a long fashion life.

The prison ship London arrives just in time to witness the reps being attacked by a rival fashion house intent on galactic domination. They lose miserably and are forced into slavery in the underwear department of a major retail outlet, leaving the Liberator adrift in space and ripe for picking by Blake and co. Forget the rebellion, there's a fashion war out there. No wonder Servalan was so keen to get her hands on the Liberator.

Implausible? Not necessarily. Thinking about the series in general, the number of very well dressed people is exceptional. Escape bids are naturally conducted in the most outrageous outfits available, with Coser just snatching the prize from Rashel for his high-collar, heavily-embroidered creation (and if that was the least ostentatious thing he had, the mind boggles as to what the rest of his wardrobe looked like). Elsewhere, grown men dressed as eighteenth-century dandies are accepted as an everyday occurrence. Even the people on an out of the way planet like Horizon can rustle up full-length sky-blue numbers complete with all the trimmings when the occasion demands. And this is before we have even considered Servalan's numerous changes of attire. No self-respecting Supreme Commander and would-be President it seems would wear anything less to work than full evening dress. The more dirty the situation, the more impractical the outfit. How Kasabi's forces managed to miss her standing in plain view in a white long jacket and sparkly tights is frankly baffling. Consequently, they pay the price for daring to pursue their resistance activities in uninspired clothing and high fashion wins again.

With this level of demand, someone has to be supplying it. If not our travelling reps, then we can only suppose that on some as yet unknown planet, the luckless natives slave away to meet this insatiable lust for luxury clothing. If ever there were candidates for Blake's attention, it must have been these poor devils. What an episode that would have made! A daring attack leaves the Federation crippled when Servalan is unable to leave Space Command because she doesn't have a change of clothes. Blake sweeps to victory with messages of freedom and how to make clothes last more than one wearing. Then Avon skips with the Liberator and the last remaining supply of silver studs in the sector, and the ensuing outcry means the Federation is able to return on a wave of sartorial outrage.

Far fetched, yes, but then stranger things have happened.

Back up to Essay index

Back up to Blakes 7

Last changed on 01st of October 2005