Photos courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Anna Marie Kellen
By Margarita Vaisman
The Graphic Body
Galliano and Armani
A super hero needs several things to be a true icon. Special powers or abilities, an appetite for justice, a memorable name (Guy-Who-Can-Climb-Buildings-and-Shoot-Webs isn't quite as catchy as Spider-Man), and a great costume. The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrates this essential element in its latest exhibition, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy.
The Armored Body
with Iron Man
What a super hero wears matters. In Marvel's hit film "Iron Man," Tony Stark takes a moment to contemplate the style and color of his armor, finding inspiration from a classic car to decide on a flashy red and gold color scheme. Spider-Man's costume originated from a wrestling uniform, but later on even the Webbed One discovers the power of a sleek black suit. The identical ensembles the X-Men wear unifies them as a team. And how many of us haven't wondered just how many shirts and purple pants Bruce Banner must go through every time he Hulks out and rips them to shreds?
Fashion legends like Giorgio Armani, John Galliano, Dolce and Gabbana, Thierry Mugler, and others have taken the idea of what a super hero stands for, how they look, and how their identity is transformed to create some show-stopping ensembles. Spidey provides fodder for some sexy gothic webbed dresses and streamlined sportswear. Iron Man is displayed with an array of metallic creations of wearable armor. Mystique serves as inspiration for wild designs involving leather, rubber, sequins, and feathers that both mutants and non-mutants will admire. Even Ghost Rider and the Punisher are used as a springboard for some post-modern, biker chic, skulls 'n' flames couture.
The Graphic Body
While it's great to see the popularity of super heroes has become so widespread it's influencing today's fashions, there's more to this exhibit than showing off a collection of awesome, imaginative designs. Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy
explores the cultural significance of these characters, the metamorphosis that occurs when a costume is worn, how that costume changes not only the body but the very identity of the wearer, and the resulting duality that occurs. Wandering through the futuristic, mirrored halls of this exhibition, one can't help but believe that the right costume could empower and transform anybody into a super hero. Also, let's face it; these clothes are just plain cool!
Running from May 7 - September 1 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy
, made possible by Giorgio Armani with additional support from Condé Nast, includes original costumes from "Iron Man," "Spider-Man," and "X-Men." If you are in town, it's worth checking out!