Superheroes Fashion and Fantasy Andrew Bolton, Michael Chabon

Publication date:
02 Jun 2008
Metropolitan Museum of Art
160 pages: 305 x 248mm
300 color illus.
Sales territories:

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.


Superheroes also explores superpowers and their manifestations––literal, symbolic, or metaphorical: Flash’s speed, Iron Man’s invulnerability, Hulk’s strength, and Spiderman’s agility are presented in their fantastical evocations. Featured designers include Pierre Cardin, John Galliano, Azzedine Alaia, Giorgio Armani, Hussein Chalayan, Alexander McQueen, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Jean Paul Gaultier, Comme des Garçons, and Walter van Beirendonck.

Harold Koda is Curator in Charge and Andrew Bolton is Curator, both at The Costume Institute , The Metropolitan Museum of Art. They are coauthors of Chanel (2005), Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century (2006), and Poiret (2007).

"This glossy volume makes a fine show of comic book superheroes' contribution to cultural and aesthetic history. . . . Bolton provides brief, thought-provoking text, concerned more with the superhero's cultural legacy as a whole than its connection to fashion. . . . While the scintillating fashion spreads are the book's best selling point, the text is smart and well-researched."?Publishers Weekly

"Lavishly illustrated."?SirReadaLot

"This catalog . . . explores the symbolic and metaphysical associations between fashion and fictional comic book characters. The catalog's design affirms the alliance between fantasy and fashion through the juxtaposition of fashion imagery, comic book details and film and TV stills in a comic book frame format."?Communication Arts

Winner of the prestigious American Institute of Graphic Arts design award, presented by the American Institute of Graphic Arts.