Fashion Friday – Fantasy of Fashion

“Wearing this kind of costume is not something I fantasize about. It’s not natural, it’s not comfortable. I don’t see myself as this. But it gives you dramatic license to do almost anything when you’re dressed as a bug.” –Joan Severance


No. This post is not what you think it is about from the title or the quote. This is not fetish or sexual at all. What it is, is a commentary on the fine line be art, ordinary fashion, and fantasy of comic books and comic books transformed into film.

Last year, my husband and I visited New York City for a long weekend to take in a Broadway show. While there, I convinced, said husband, to go to one of my favourite places in The City—The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I love it there. It is one of my comfortable places—where I feel at home—where I can sit and ponder the detail of the Albrecht Durer, the fluidity of the Titian figure, and feel the broodiness of El Greco‘s Toledo sky.

I was surprised when we arrived and discovered an exhibit that I did not expect to see—The Costume Institute’s Superheroes Fashion and Fantasy. I scoffed, thinking how utterly ridiculous it was to have this type of exhibit there at The Met. I expecting to see the transition from Batman to Batman to Batman and straight forward movie costuming worn by this celebrity and that celebrity. Curiosity made me drag my husband into the exhibit and I found that some of the concepts that I had taken for granted on the runway were influenced and inspired partly by the superhero costume and that those costumes have influenced the designs in the houses of Moschino to Giorgio Armani.

When we first entered there stood a display of Superman, introducing the branding portion of the exhibit, where Rosella Jardini from the House of Moschino plays off the “S” and the pentagon by substituting an “M” and a heart, which Moschino uses within many of their designs. The model rips open his shirt to reveal the iconography much in the vein of Clark Kent transforming into Superman. While interesting and unexpected for a moment the gesture appears trite.

The web design has been layered into many lines of designer fashions in the past, a la Spider man but in the exhibit Spyder, a ski wear company is represented with the spider logo on the calf of the garment and an overall spidey feel with web patterns consuming portions of the garment. These web designs work primarily because of the company name. Also represented were numerous dresses designed by Armani, Gaultier, and Thierry Mugler, with the web theme, which appeared to be too literal in their translation.


The exhibit then devoted a section to propulsion, speed, and agility as represented by The Flash. Included here was Nike’s Swift Suit and Speedo’s Fast Skin, both which have real life applications for swimmers and are in direct contrast designer Huessien Chalayan’s Aeroplane dress. This dress is “built” of fiberglass, metal, cotton, and other synthetic material resembling panels and wings on an airplane.


My favourite portion of the exhibit was where, yes, the costume of Batman was located. This area represented armour and the protected body. Here we saw the imposing Batman costume along with futuristic garments, one of which looked like a S.W.A.T. member wearing a Kevlar vest along with the obligatory aviation shades (government issued no doubt). Interesting were the clothing pieces with the vest, mini-skirts, and leggings in metallic shades of bronze, silver, and black. Both of these outfits could easily transition into city life and I could picture women walking down Fifth Avenue in these two ensembles. The highlight of this section and the entire exhibit, was the piece designed by Gareth Pugh. Part stealth fighter, part deflection device, this dress included protection on the arms that one could imagine tilting and rotating for the purpose of defending against lasers or the like.



Looking back I remember leaving this exhibit baffled and skeptical of its importance in the museum, but now seven months later and well into my own transformation to geek, I can much more appreciate the correlation between fantasy and fashion. I go back and think how some of these designer pieces might even work into City of Heroes and giggle about how I have changed in so short a time.

2 Responses to “Fashion Friday – Fantasy of Fashion”

  1. Woman of the House Says:

    Wow. Now it’s my turn to be the fish out of water. I had to click links and google my way through that entry. I’m still learning to speak geek, but fashion lingo/designers/brands/etc, is still lightyears away for me.

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