Books Received–May 22 (Superheroes and Fashion)

Jeff VanderMeer • May 22nd, 2008 @ 12:14 pm • Book Reviews

I can’t think of a more impressive yet useless book than Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy,pictured above, which came today from Yale University Press and includes an essay by Michael Chabon. I am, perversely, happy to have it and happy to feature it on Amazon, but I would never have bought it for myself. Description: “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.”

Some interior shots:

Oh, yes, and to counterbalance the camp qualities of that book, some serious stuff came in as well, including Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy, about seven extraordinary marriages…

3 Responses to “Books Received–May 22 (Superheroes and Fashion)”

  1. Ian Randal Strock says:

    Wow, nice review copy. I saw it when we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the exhibit (for which this book is the catalog). I wasn’t very impressed with the exhibit (there were a few costumes/artifacts, but the bulk of the exhibit were outfits created by a few designers that were reminscent of the costumes). Basically, eh. The book, however, seems to have far more content (or at least, more pictures) than is available in the exhibit.

    On the other hand, no one should take my “meh” as a reason to avoid the museum. In addition to the costumes, we saw two or three other temporary exhibits, hundreds of pieces from the permanent collection, and had a great time getting our culture fix. The Met is definitely worth the trip.

  2. Rick Klaw says:

    I to saw the exhibit on my recent NY trip and I concur on the “meh” assessment. While impressive looking, I left thinking “who cares?” As for the Met itself. YOWZA! Everyone should spend time there…

  3. Rick Klaw says:

    (Noticing the typos above…) I’ve got to stop posting things right before bed…

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