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Superman: Codifying the Superhero Wardrobe

Barbara Brownie and Danny Graydon

Source: The Superhero Costume. Identity and disguise in fact and fiction 2016

Book chapter

Superman’s othernessotherness is firmly established in a costume that is identical from day to day. Wearing only one costume, Superman reduces his core values to a single, consistent message which is not compromised by daily adjustments to his wardrobe. This kind of “distinctive persistent dress,” finds Gregory Stone (1981, p. 144), is more commonly associated with professional responsibilities than with personal identity, and so through consistency of dress, Superman presents himself as acting i

Identity, role and the Mask

Barbara Brownie and Danny Graydon

Source: The Superhero Costume. Identity and disguise in fact and fiction 2016

Book chapter

The function of a costume or mask is to “disguisedisguise, protect or transform” (Wilsher, 2007, p. 12). For superheroes, the mask serves all three of these functions. It identity constructionreligiontransforms the wearer from ordinary civilian to superhero, disguising him in order to protect the identity of his alter ego, and those he cares about. The duality of the superhero’s identity is bound up in his costume. His public face, the mask, conceals his private face, hidden underneath.

Dressing up, dressing down: A spectacle of otherness, and the ordinariness of the civilian alter-ego

Barbara Brownie and Danny Graydon

Source: The Superhero Costume. Identity and disguise in fact and fiction 2016

Book chapter

™ and © DC Comics

Wearing the flag: Patriotism and Globalization

Barbara Brownie and Danny Graydon

Source: The Superhero Costume. Identity and disguise in fact and fiction 2016

Book chapter

Captain AmericaCaptain America was created as a defender of the values of the United States of America. His appearance resembles those of Olympians, for whom national allegiance becomes the defining factor in the design of their uniforms. When they inject Steve Rogers with a serum to give him super-powers, the American secret service intend that his supernatural athleticismathleticism will be used in combat, on behalf of the US Army. He is dressed in a flag-like costume, and introduced to the wor

Evolution and Adaptation: Form versus function

Barbara Brownie and Danny Graydon

Source: The Superhero Costume. Identity and disguise in fact and fiction 2016

Book chapter

Superheroes are immediately identified as extraordinary by their costumes. These costumes are, in contrast to the civilian clothing of their alter ego, colorful, bold, figure-hugging, and often seemingly impractical. At first glance, they may print (comics)accuracyappear ludicrous, but their origins reveal aspects of these costumes to be both necessary and plausible.

Real-life superheroes

Barbara Brownie and Danny Graydon

Source: The Superhero Costume. Identity and disguise in fact and fiction 2016

Book chapter

The appropriation of the superhero costume often comes in conjunction with the performance of a superhero lifestyle. Masked vigilantes patrol the streets of cities including Seattle, Atlanta, New York, Toronto, MexicoMexico City, and London, and congregate in cyberspace via the World Superhero RegistryWorld Superhero Registry. Though they are too numerous to list here, those real-life superheroes that have been the subject of academic study include Phoenix Jones, PhoenixJones, who patrols the str

Superhero cosplay

Barbara Brownie and Danny Graydon

Source: The Superhero Costume. Identity and disguise in fact and fiction 2016

Book chapter

re-enactmentThe notion of a fan has moved beyond “older ideas of media spectatorship” that involve little more than direct consumption of a cultural artifact (Flemming, 2007, p. 16). participatory fandomParticipatory fandom involves tangential activities which expand upon the fictional world and blur boundaries with reality. “Fans create a fan culture with its own systems of production and distribution that forms . . . a ‘shadow cultural economy’ that lies outside that of the cultural industries

Channeling the Beast

Barbara Brownie and Danny Graydon

Source: The Superhero Costume. Identity and disguise in fact and fiction 2016

Book chapter

physiognomyImages depicting animals with human characteristics, and hybrid animal-human beasts, were a staple of ancient religion and mythology. Sometimes, they were deities, like Bastet, the feline goddess of Ancient Egypt, and at other times they were the monstrous product of animal/human coupling, like ancient Crete’s Minotaur. These historical animal-human hybrids had a special power and allure. The duality of this fusion of “human and the non-human” can be frightening, or at least unsettling

Iron Man

Barbara Brownie and Danny Graydon

Source: The Superhero Costume. Identity and disguise in fact and fiction 2016

Book chapter

upgradestechnologyinsigniacivilian alter egoidentity constructionOnce a costume is established as a representation of a certain set of values and abilities, the superhero identity can become more attached to the costume than to its wearer. In the case of Iron Man, identityidentity is more bound up in the costume than with any other superhero. Indeed, Iron Man is not a man, but an augmentation.

Watchmen

Barbara Brownie and Danny Graydon

Source: The Superhero Costume. Identity and disguise in fact and fiction 2016

Book chapter

practicalitycapeappropriationAlan Moore, AlanMoore and Dave Gibbons, DaveGibbons’ WatchmenWatchmen (1986–1987) is a deconstruction of the superhero comic that poses the question “what if superheroes [and their costumes] were real?” (Thompson, 2005, p. 105). Such self-conscious responses to genre occur, writes Geoff Klock (2002, p. 3), when the “building density of tradition becomes anxiety.” The superhero genre has mushroomed to such proportions that it seems uncontrollable, providing audiences w

The X-Men

Barbara Brownie and Danny Graydon

Source: The Superhero Costume. Identity and disguise in fact and fiction 2016

Book chapter

identitycustomizationconformitycolorReynolds (1992, p. 26) observes that all superhero costumes function “as a uniform, binding together all super-beings.” The superhero uniformuniform asserts his readiness to perform acts of heroism, and aligns him with crime-fighting values. Costume “creates a community between its wearers” (ibid.), communicating to audiences that even the most isolated or rebellious superhero conforms to a core set of ideals that define the superhero genre. More so than other

Camouflage on the Catwalk

Ariel Beaujot

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

The camouflage pattern that is so ubiquitous in Western clothing styles was developed to hide machinery during World War I; it only became a pattern for clothing for troops in World War II. “Camo” is key for war because it helps items blend into the background and it disrupts the shape of forms. Largely because of Army Surplus Stores, camo became a pattern used in street fashion in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The meaning of camo in this period varied from antiwar protest to a reconnection with n

Men in Skirts

Fruzsina Bekefi

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

The male skirt has evolved throughout fashion history. From a traditional form of dress worn in Ancient Greece and Rome, non-bifurcated garments worn by men came to be perceived as a challenge to conventional gender norms in the West. Designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood have used male skirts to interpret masculinity through their designs in the latter half of the twentieth century. In the early twenty-first century, male skirts are gaining traction again.

Victor Victoria

Katy Conover

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Designer Biography

Dirk Bikkembergs

Elizabeth Kutesko

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Designer Biography

Aesthetics of The Jazz Dandy

Alphonso D. McClendon

Source: Fashion and Jazz. Dress, identity and subcultural improvisation 2015

Book chapter

Adding to his narrative, Michel Fontanes, a former executive, author and jazz musician, articulated the French impression of African American male instrumentalists that expatriated to the country. “They were considered in France as Gods. All black musicians not the white musicians.” Regarding his trip to Paris in 1949, Miles Davis offered consensus. “It was the freedom of being in France and being treated like a human being, like someone important. Even the band and the music we played sounded be

Reel to Real Life: Re-Fashioning India from Bollywood to Street

Arti Sandhu

Source: Indian Fashion. Tradition, Innovation, Style 2015

Book chapter

Cinema in India is an extremely influential cultural medium. India has the world’s largest film industry with over 1,000 films produced every year in more than 20 languagesIbid. and over 14 million Indians go to the movies on a daily basis.In 2008 the industry was valued at approximately US$2.2 billion, and expected to grow by 9 percent p.a. till 2015 (Deloitte 2011 report: “Media & Entertainment in India Digital Road Ahead.” www.deloitte.com/in [accessed June 4, 2013]) Many more watch them at ho

Coco Chanel

Aimee Scott

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Designer Biography

Teen Fashion: Youth and Identity in Popular Teen Dramas

Helen Warner

Source: Fashion on Television. Identity and Celebrity Culture 2014

Book chapter

Both Gossip Girl and The O.C. share similar thematic and narrative terrain. Each explores topics typically covered in teen dramas (friendship, alienation, family, sex and sexuality, drug and alcohol use, etc.) and is preoccupied with the anxieties regarding one’s position within social hierarchies. These anxieties are magnified insofar as they are shored up by an exploration of class relations; both shows are ‘fish-out-of-water’ narratives. The O.C. charts main character Ryan Attwood’s (Benjamin

Consuming Masculinity: Gender, Fashion and TV Celebrity

Helen Warner

Source: Fashion on Television. Identity and Celebrity Culture 2014

Book chapter

The 1980s is often cited as an important period during which developments within consumer culture and the fashion industry resulted in increasing media and cultural attention to the male body (Connell 1987; Edwards 1997; Mort 1996; Nixon 1996). Often termed the ‘new man’, a particular incarnation of masculinity emerged which challenged the assumed truth that fashion was an exclusively feminine practice. Writing in the late 1990s, Tim Edwards (1997: 39) suggests that the ‘new man arose as a primar

Advertising Men’s Underwear

Shaun Cole

Source: Fashion Media. Past and Present 2013

Book chapter

Pity the poor underwear manufacturer. His product is usually small. The variety of shapes in which his ware is sold is extremely limited, and respectable society is at best reluctant to see the product too explicitly shown … About the best the maker can hope for is to seek a way for the person modeling his latest creation to do it in some eye-catching manner—without exceeding the limits of current convention.

Drag: Of Kings and Queens

Adam Geczy and Vicki Karaminas

Source: Queer Style 2013

Book chapter

The stylistic ideal of the drag queen, is screaming vulgarity, the overstated look of the balloon-breasted tramp in the leopard-skin micro-mini skirt who strives to be loud, tawdry and cheap… unlike the lone fetishist who in an effort to ‘pass’, squeezes into corsets and tapes his breasts together to create the illusion of cleavage.Harris, The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture, 204.

Narratives are a way for human beings of the past and present to understand their experiences and guide their actions.Somers, “The Narrative Constitution of Identity,” 613–14. An important metanarrative of Victorian society was the advent of democracy and constitutional government. Every British school child of the nineteenth century knew the progressive narrative of the rise of parliamentary democracy beginning with the Magna Carta, passing through the “Glorious Revolution,” and ending with the

The Limits of Jeans in Kannur, Kerala

Daniel Miller

Source: Global Denim 2011

Book chapter

Within the context of a study of global denim, South Asia is significant in representing perhaps the only remaining major region of the world where the wearing of jeans remains relatively uncommon. No one place can stand for South Asia, but an advantage of Kannur, a town in northern Kerala, is that at least for that state, it represents in the minds of its inhabitants, a clear position midway between the cosmopolitanism of the metropolis and the conservatism of the countryside. As such, many peop

White Suited Men: Style, Masculinity and the Boyband

Janice Miller

Source: Fashion and Music 2011

Book chapter

Women are traditionally seen to be subject to the power systems of men—passive, whilst men are active; private, while men are public; ‘fashionable [when] men are not’ (Craik 1994: 170). Clearly, then, both genders have been subjected to expected ways of being and modes of behaviour which are undoubtedly different, but equally limiting. The expectations of appropriate gender behaviour may change over time. Yet when such change happens, what is never eradicated is a sense of a clearly demarcated, i

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