An Out-of-This-World New
Bennaim: "When Ximena and I met as freshmen at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, we discovered we had two things in common. We're both native Spanish speakers—I was born in Venezuela; she's from Mexico City—and we each have a nerdy infatuation with space. As a kid, Ximena was obsessed with Carl Sagan's Contact, and I grew up visiting the Kennedy Space Center. Soon we were swapping books and planning science fair dates."
On Their Interstellar Inspiration
Chouza: "We eventually became roommates, and when we were searching the Web for wall art, we learned that anyone can download free images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope website. We created a living-room mural using a shot of a massive purple-blue gas cloud in the Milky Way—and it was so cool, we decided to have the photo digitally printed on silk fabric that we made into skirts. Whenever we wore them, people asked where they could buy one, so in 2011, we launched our Etsy shop, Shadowplaynyc."
On Their Planetary Process
Bennaim: "Now, twice a year, we pore over images from NASA. We load our favorites onto a hard drive to bring to a textile maker. Once we receive samples, we fixate on every detail: Does the purple Tarantula Nebula cloud look too brown? Is the Spiderweb Galaxy sharp enough? The final fabrics become aurora jersey dresses, stardust ombré tights, meteorite scarves, and moon tees."
Chouza: "While most fashion designers are looking forward to next season's trends, we're counting down until the 2018 launch of the Hubble's successor, which will see millions of miles farther. Until then, we're experimenting in our Brooklyn studio, surrounded by astronaut helmets, holographic space posters, and a few empty bottles of Astro Pinot Noir."