Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy

Overview

From Wonder Woman’s satin stars and golden bracelets to Batman’s brooding cape and mask, the style of superheroes’ dress has influenced both street wear and high fashion. This richly illustrated book explores how radical couture, avant-garde sportswear, and state-of-the-art military garments—as seen through the lens of the superhero—can be metaphors for sex, power, and politics. Beginning with the origins of the superhero costume, this volume looks at how designers have been influenced by iconographic components ...

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Overview

From Wonder Woman’s satin stars and golden bracelets to Batman’s brooding cape and mask, the style of superheroes’ dress has influenced both street wear and high fashion. This richly illustrated book explores how radical couture, avant-garde sportswear, and state-of-the-art military garments—as seen through the lens of the superhero—can be metaphors for sex, power, and politics. Beginning with the origins of the superhero costume, this volume looks at how designers have been influenced by iconographic components such as the cape, mask, boots, and unitard. Costumes, such as those worn by Batman and Catwoman, are examined as reflections of sexual and physical prowess, while others, most notably those of Superman and Captain America, are analyzed as political propaganda.

Superheroes also explores superpowers and their manifestations––literal, symbolic, or metaphorical: Flash’s speed, Iron Man’s invulnerability, Hulk’s strength, and Spiderman’s agility are presented in their fantastical evocations. Featured designers include Pierre Cardin, John Galliano, Azzedine Alaia, Giorgio Armani, Hussein Chalayan, Alexander McQueen, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Jean Paul Gaultier, Comme des Garçons, and Walter van Beirendonck.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Superheroes rely on fashion to back them up-morphing from street clothes to extraordinary, body-clinging gear, wearing capes that allow them to fly, sporting masks that conceal their true identity. Fashion, in turn, relies on the promise of superheroes, that we will experience the same transformative, even erotic power when we put on an item of clothing. Fantasy , the key word in this catalog, sums up the book's playful metallic cover, its glossy and revealing runway pictures of comic book-inspired designer garb, and images of various superheroes (277 illus. total, most in color). Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon contributes an essay on "unitard theory," while Bolton, a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, which hosted the Superheroes show earlier this year, focuses on the pop corpus of superheroes. Chapters range from "The Patriotic Body" to "The Virile Body" to "The Postmodern Body." If all the cultural references and extreme outfits seem a bit of a stretch, isn't that what fantasy (and Superman's spandex) is for? Recommended for specialized fashion or comic art collections.-Prudence Peiffer, Washington, DC

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300136708
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Publication date: 6/28/2008
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Harold Koda is Curator in Charge and Andrew Bolton is Curator, both at The Costume Institute , The Metropolitan Museum of Art. They are coauthors of Chanel (2005), Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century (2006), and Poiret (2007).

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Table of Contents

Sponsor's Statement 6

Director's Foreword 7

Preface 9

Secret Skin: An Essay in Unitard Theory Michael Chabon Chabon, Michael 11

The Graphic Body 24

The Patriotic Body 46

The Agile Body 64

The Paradoxical Body 80

The Armored Body 94

The Aerodynamic Body 112

The Mutant Body 128

The Postmodern Body 140

Notes & Select Bibliography 155

Acknowledgments 156

Photograph Credits 158

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