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“Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy”

Superhero Fashion

A new exhibit opening at the Met today, entitled “Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy,” is dedicated to exploring the “symbolic and metaphorical associations between fashion and the superhero”:

Featuring movie costumes, avant-garde haute couture, and high-performance sportswear, it reveals how the superhero serves as the ultimate metaphor for fashion and its ability to empower and transform the human body. Objects are organized thematically around particular superheroes, whose movie costumes and superpowers are catalysts for the discussion of key concepts of superheroism and their expression in fashion.

The exhibit is accompanied by a visually striking catalog designed by Abbott Miller. The Pentagram blog offers a preview of the book.

It’s been interesting to watch the convergence of fashion and comics over the past few years. While fashion designers are looking towards superhero comics for inspiration, comic artists and illustrators are jumping boldly into the world of fashion design, with notable examples including Paul Pope’s recent work for DKNY and James Jean’s designs for Prada.

  • Tom Pope

    What is it with people and Superheroes these days? For the last several years there has been so much of it, including the fascination with Harry Potter. Do people need the idea of them more than usual because of the issues in the world, or is this a cyclical thing? Obviously they’ve never gone totally out of style, but now they’re everywhere you look.
    I like a good Superhero flick, but quality over quantity, please.

  • I find it funny that to the people of “our” generation….there is only “one” Superman (Mr. Reeves), and to the rest of the generation….Mr. Reeve!

  • Sorry, Uncle Wayne: I’m old enough to remember George Reeves as Superman. He was Superman to me before I ever saw the comic books. But Christopher Reeve is the One True Superman, so far as I’m concerned, Superman II through IV notwithstanding.

  • If they have Linda Carter’s original Wonder Woman costume on display–I’M GOING!!!

  • John A

    “…the symbolic and metaphorical associations between fashion and the superhero”–WTF?? Maybe they could explain the “symbolic and metaphorical associations” between fashion and wearing your underwear on the outside.

  • Interesting how the undies (overies?) have shrunk over the years. That’s some hefty pants back in the day, but todays super has itsy wee jockeys in comparison. Tomorrow’s superman will be wearing a thong. Superpants to Borat in three generations.

  • Chuck R.

    Comics, fashion, film and book design! Congrats Amid, on your most cross-disciplinary post ever! Please tell me that Pentagram has enough sense of humor to include at least one quote from Edna Mode.

  • Karl Wilcox

    I have to agree with Michael Burton. I also first learned of Superman through George Reeves’ portrayal (during the original run of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN). Then I found out there were Superman comic books.

    Up until 1978,George Reeves was the definitive screen Superman, to me–but all that changed when I saw “Superman: The Movie.” Christopher Reeve was the first actor who really LOOKED LIKE Superman. And (with apologies to Kirk Alyn, Dean Cain, Brandon Routh–and, yes, even Tom Welling) he still is.

  • Stephen

    John A. – yes, I’ve seen criticism about the jargon in the catalogue. Even for art-writing, which can get pretty thick, this is gobbledygook.

  • Hey, I liked Superman II!

  • Mild

    I just saw the show in NYC and I have to say that it’s brilliant! My fav was the Catwoman Costume from Batman Returns that made by, Meow!!!!!

  • Keith Paynter

    “No capes!” – Edna “E” Mode

  • Saw the show and I thought it was very inspiring. Although more often than not, the ‘original’ superhero costumes from the movies were a lot better than the high fashion inspired by superhero gear (with some exceptions of course).