We've gotten our hands on the genuinely cool book for the Costume Institute's upcoming "Superheroes" exhibit, and, for all the jokes one can make about the gala's red carpet being graced with celebrities awkwardly decked out in Catwoman leather or Captain America capes (per hostess Anna Wintour's request that attendees take the theme seriously), a look at what's actually being shown at the exhibit is rather illuminating. Just to get all heady on you, we'll quote the book's preface:
Fashion mirrors the superhero's obsessive preoccupation with the ideal body, signaling changes, both subtle and obvious, in prevailing standards of perfection. [...] Fashion, like the superhero, celebrates metamorphosis, providing unlimited opportunities to remake and reshape the flesh and the self.
The looks in the exhibit are organized by various superhero "bodies," such as the graphic (think Superman or Spider-Man; those that incorporate iconography), patriotic (like Wonder Woman and Captain America), or armored (Batman), amongst others. Above, Bernhard Willhelm and Jean Paul Gaultier's looks are inspired by graphic bodies; Dior's, the patriotic body.
After the jump, a sampler of the exhibit's looks from Thierry Mugler, Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, and more, plus a brief explanation of the superhero inspirations behind them — just in case you need to impress a random dude (or your little brother). —Jessica Coen
For those of you keeping track, McQueen's and Mugler's designs are considered inspired by the mutant body (superheroes like the X-Men), while Giorgio Armani's is another graphic-body-inspired look.
Superhero translation: The Mugler at left is a paradoxical body, which is inspired by Catwoman — a superhero who was both a "good" and a "bad" girl. Dolce is an armored body. At right, Mugler is a postmodern body, inspired by superheroes more typical of graphic novels than of traditional comic books.
And your final superhero scorecard: Both Mugler's and Gareth Pugh's looks are considered armored bodies, while Van Beirendonck's is a virile body, inspired by a superhero who was the "embodiment of hegemonic masculinity" — the Hulk.