Woody Hochswender has a hilarious article about the new show of Comic-book inspired high fashion, "Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy," currently at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through Sept 1, 2008). This high-powered installation (designed by curator Andrew Bolton who was also inspired after reading Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay) combines large splashy backdrops of comic book art with haute couture designs from the high-powered fashion houses, with the likes of super-fashion-heroes Thierry Mugler and Jean-Paul Gaultier. And what a bizarre collection of clothing it is, "dark and edgy, with themes of fetishism, domination, virility, sexual identity, and 'hegemonic masculinity'." Happily, most of these cat walk fashions won't be appearing on the racks in the future as they sure look uncomfortable -- and maybe a bit difficult to get in and out of an elevator in.
Hochswender has so much fun in the article -- both admiring the avant garde experience and poking fun at the "fashion-academese" used to explain the works. "The world of fashion, we learn, like that of comics, is a world of 'signs,' and that 'logos serve to ensure the body's passage into the field of the symbolic and representational.' Holding the thought and passing into the field of the Spider-man exhibit, we learn that "just as Superman's costume proclaims him a superman, Spider-Man's costume proclaims him a spider man.'" His further observation is that these clothes for the most part are "strictly for indoor wear, perhaps to answer the door for your dominatrix."
Definitely stop by the Museum's website to see more images from the show and to read their short essays about the show. And here's another review from the Wall Street Journal, with an accompanying slide show.