But the resurgence of spacewear this season is especially forceful, and touching, as designers confront an uncertain future. In their most recent shows, self-styled seers of the catwalks combined robotic engineering with effusive draping and scavenged-looking elements that appeared to be inspired by the fantasy worlds of the “Mad Max” films.

Rick Owens, whose fall presentation this month had an otherworldly caste, calls the latest revival “an escape from banality.” Mr. Owens acknowledged that his designs owe a debt to Frank Frazetta’s illustrations for the John Carter book series, whose raven-haired protagonist sported a six-pack and scanty skins, and was “caveman and futuristic at the same time.” His own designs, with their fierce-looking layers, meandering zippers and winged lapels, suggest a similar hybrid, expressing, he said, “a sentimental longing for utopian happiness that is poignantly always out of reach.”

“What we need are first responders who don’t share our pain,” said Martin Kaplan, the associate dean. “If there’s one thing Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon never had to think about, it’s a pension.”

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