Monday, May 05, 2008

Photos: Superhero Fashion at the Metropolitan Museum

I hit up a press preview of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's newest special exhibit, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy. The exhibit features a variety of, how do you say, costume pieces?Originally intended to show off existing and prototype clothing/bodywear that is designed to actually enhance one's physical abilities, the works became an exploration of the symbolism and metaphor inherent in superheroes, and experimentation with those symbols and iconography surrounding superheroes. To sum it up, a bunch of famous designers created works based in some part on existing superheros' costumes.

Some of them are very crazy-runway fashion-y, but there are also some really interesting costumes that play with the basics behind hero costumes. I took a bunch of pictures for you guys to preview before you drop by. They're more runway than they are utilitarian (designed by the likes of Dolce and Armani), but they do give an interesting insight into the way different kinds of hero costumes are designed.

Takes on Superman, Spider-Man, The Flash and more after the jump....


Sponsored by Armani, who was onhand to give a little speech all in Italian. I left those pictures out, since he was wearing a suit that didn't include emblems, armor, spandex, or a cape of any kind.

First on the list was of course, Superman. The designers did a bit more playing around with the iconography of Supe's than re-imagining his costume, but Alex Ross in the background is a nice touch. They also had the original Supes movie costumes on display with a ghosting effect that transformed the mannequin wearing the costumes from Superman back to Clark Kent. Unfortunately the way it was set up taking photos didn't really work very well.

Here's a little taste of the Spider-man area. Most of these outfits were various evening gowns with hints of webs in them. Personally I found them pretty boring in terms of exploring Spidey's costume. Taking one of the most iconic costumes in comics and parsing it down to webs on a dress isn't really that interesting.


These lycra/spandex suits are actually speed suits, designed to help athletes move faster, specifically speed skaters or runners. As you can see by the backdrop, they are Flash inspired. This was the stuff I found pretty cool, as they were designing costumes that had real life applications and were still a throwback to comics.

A couple of flying suits, including a glider suit (back) and glider wings equipped with twin turbine engines capable of generating enough thrust to propel a person through the air. They can both actually be used and do work at what they do, which is let you move freely through the air (though I believe parachutes are required when one actually goes to land).

The original costume worn my Lynda Carter for the Wonder Woman series. They split the heroes up into archetypes, armored, mutant, speed, patriotic, etc. This is the centerpiece of the patriotic section.

I actually really enjoyed these two costumes in the Patriotic display. They remind of a lot of Sandman (obviously), and also of the sort of non-costume but still emblematic Starman.

The "mutant" heroes area, which focusing more on clothing that symbolized mutation rather than served any utilitarian purpose, was really gorgeous.

The exhibit touched upon the way that female characters are portrayed primarily as sexual creatures to be viewed by men. A variety of Catwoman inspired costumes played with fetish and revealing clothing. Surprisingly they weren't even that risque compared to a lot of comic book fodder. I'm not going to go into depth here, but their touch on sexism and misogyny in comics was greatly appreciated.


This lady was reporting for Marvel and making all sorts of cheesy jokes in her little snippets. Oh Marvel.com, you and your quirky pink haired reporters.

The "armored" heroes area, showing a variety of "armored costumes" touching on both Iron Man and Batman as examples. That's the actual Iron Man suit used in the movie. I'm pretty sure that costume in front of it was what Witchblade creators originally wanted, until they were told that it hurts to get punched in the boob. (kidding)


I couldn't for the life of me get a clear shot of this costume, but I really like the human bullet motif going on, with the entire top and helmet designed like shell casings and bullets. There was also a female version, and of course I couldn't help but think of the new Bulleteer.


This was one of my favorite designs. It looks like a costume straight out of Batman Beyond, and I really love it. The use of armor-like materials and the big bulky armored arms look really cool, I was really looking for more stuff like this, things that looked like they could almost make their way into the comics.
Also exciting, they had issues of characters first appearances on the wall, actual issues. I've never wanted to steal something from the Met as much as I did right then.

And lastly, maybe the BEST reason to come to this exhibit is the chance to see this:Ladies and Gentlemen, when else are you going to see huge statues of the Big Three in the atrium of the Metropolitan Museum of Art?

That's it for now. If you're interested take your behind over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where this exhibit will be showing until September 1st.

1 comment:

LibraryTypeGirl said...

I actually know that pink-hair, reporter... stay far, far away.