The Interstellar Style of Sun Ra

How the space jazz icon’s radical and regal garments projected a hopeful realm outside of the very troubled real world. –  Source: Pitchfork

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“The year is 1972, Oakland, California. Down a sunny street and inside the doors of a neighborhood teen center, things are popping. Everyone’s wearing black leotards, striped short shorts, flared blue jeans, tight, bright sweaters, floppy hats, Afros and Afropuffs, denim vests, crocheted shawls. They’re snapping bubblegum and petting dogs. Playing pool and Ping-Pong. Black Power posters line the walls. At one point the room spontaneously breaks into a beautiful acappella hymn: “That’s the way love is.”

And then, straight out of nowhere, smack in the middle of this scene appears a man in a voluminous black caftan draped in an iridescent silver overlay and a headdress of gold chainmail. He is a time traveler from another planet. He is flanked by a pair of resplendently costumed women, faces obscured by massive gilded animal masks; one dog, one eagle. They appear vaguely Egyptian, certainly not of this world. The camera centers on the curious visitor’s shoes: a pair of striped platform oxfords that conspire to send their wearer a few inches further into the atmosphere.”

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