The Costume Institute’s Harold Koda is a Spider-Man guy. “I like him because he has a sense of humor,” said the curator. “All the other heroes are so earnest.” And why was he riffing on the likes of Superman, the Hulk, and Catwoman? As most people in the fashion industry know, Giorgio Armani is sponsoring the Costume Institute’s upcoming exhibition “Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy,” and so Koda joined the designer and Vogue’s Anna Wintour to hold a press conference this morning for journalists assembled in Milan for the Fall collections. In addition to highlighting several outfits featured in the show, including two takes on Batman—a Dior couture dress by John Galliano and a techno goth creation from Gareth Pugh—as well as a costume from the new Warner Bros. movie “Dark Knight” (high-performance sportswear is also part of the 60-piece show), Koda discussed the origins of the exhibit. There’s a renewal in the popularity of superheroes, he explained, pointing to the success of Michael Chabon’s “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,” to say nothing of the hundreds of millions made by Hollywood franchises like Spider-Man and Batman. “In this moment of resurgence, the Costume Institute wanted to explore the symbolic and metaphoric influence of these characters on fashion.” The exhibition itself seems already to be having an impact on the Fall season. Capes, which along with masks, bodysuits, tights, girdles, and boots constitute the superhero uniform, have been spotted on many runways, Armani’s included. Or maybe it’s just our agitated times. As Koda theorized, “The image of the superhero, like that of America or the McDonald’s logo, for instance, has become tarnished. But they also represent optimism.” For more of Koda’s thoughts on the subject, and those of Armani and Wintour, check back later today when a video of the press conference will be posted.
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