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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.

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.

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

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

Superheroes and the fashion of being unfashionable

Barbara Brownie and Danny Graydon

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

Book chapter

Those superhero costumes that remain most static over time are largely symbolic. When costumes are utilitarian, as with Iron Man (character)Iron Man’s suit, extreme transformation is justifiable as a technological development. By contrast, the costumes of Superman (character)Superman and Wonder WomanWonder Woman, which do little to enhance their performance, remain relatively consistent. Such garments function through stylistic or, following Barthes, RolandBarthes, linguistic expression, more tha

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

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

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

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.

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

Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols

José Blanco F.

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

The British band Sex Pistols are the quintessential London punk band: they defined British punk better than any other artist did. Although punk rock was heralded as antiestablishment and promoting anarchy, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood carefully orchestrated the appearance and styling of the Sex Pistols. Sid Vicious joined the band in 1977 to replace Glen Matlock. As guitarist and vocalist, Vicious became a de facto leading man for the band. Along with bandmate Johnny Rotten (John Lydon),

Seeing in the light—“sun”glasses, modern glamor, cool, and celebrity (1920s–present)

Vanessa Brown

Source: Cool Shades. The History and Meaning of Sunglasses 2015

Book chapter

Today, a more general sense that sunglasses protect our eyes from sunlight dominates. After all, the name finally settled on for all kinds of motor goggles, protective spectacles, autoglasses, and so on was (and is) sunglasses, conjuring up countless images of those bikini-clad women and casual, white linen-clad men basking in the glow of their own attractiveness, their sunglasses bouncing back that gold-colored light of happiness and success. Smiling or not, these men and women are embodiments o

Minimalism: Donald Judd Or Ikea?

Adam Geczy and Jacqueline Millner

Source: Fashionable Art 2015

Book chapter

Minimalist artists constructed simple, monochromatic, geometric objects of formal symmetry, characterized by an absence of traditional composition. Minimalism was an extreme abstract art, not imitative but solipsistic, self-referential: it was unto itself, harking back to the idea of truth to materials whose lineage can be located in the Russian Constructivists (particularly Rodchenko, AleksandrRodchenko and El Lissitzky) through to Moore, HenryMoore, Hepworth, BarbaraHepworth, Gabo, NoamGabo, Pe

Louise Brooks

Elizabeth Glendinning

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Louise Brooks (1906–1985) was the epitome of the 1920s “flapper,” whose iconic look and style reflected the speed and dynamism of modernity, and whose liberated approach to life and her own identity contributed to her often tragic legacy.

Icons of Modernity: Sixties Fashion and Youth Culture

Heike Jenss

Source: Fashioning Memory. Vintage Style and Youth Culture 2015

Book chapter

One of the first media reports on mods, under the headline “Faces without Shadows” and published in Town Magazine in September 1962, provides insight into the consumer practices of these youths (see partial reprint in Rawlings 2000: 42–7). The article revolves around the fifteen-year-old Feld, MarkMark Feld (later, Marc Bolan of the band T-Rex) and his twenty-year-old friends Sugar, PeterPeter Sugar and Simmonds, MichaelMichael Simmonds living in the London neighborhood Stoke Newington. They desc

Style Narratives: Sixties in the Twenty-First Century

Heike Jenss

Source: Fashioning Memory. Vintage Style and Youth Culture 2015

Book chapter

Music has been described by many of the sixties enthusiasts I interviewed to be at the core of, if not initiating, their interest in the sixties, indicating the significant role music plays in the development of style. Music affects our bodybody, moving inside from the outside. Baacke, DieterDieter Baacke describes it as a phenomenon that “storms our senses”—one that penetrates and moves the body, it drives our corporealitycorporeality and expression, it gets us to dance, to tap with our feet, or

Dress Theory, Fashion and A Jazz Aesthetic

Alphonso D. McClendon

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

Book chapter

influence(s)between jazz/fashionmusiciansuse of clothingfashion designersincorporating meaningclothingas act of meaningFashion and jazz are disciplines that have significantly influenced one another in the first half of the twentieth century. Aesthetics, aestheticsdefineddefined as “the identification of the beautiful” (Weiner 2012: 8), were generated, shared and communicated through a merger of visual, behavioral and acoustic qualities among performers. In Cultural PassionsCultural Passions, Eli

Narcotics and Jazz: A Fashionable Addiction

Alphonso D. McClendon

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

Book chapter

There has been a narrative of narcotics in American popular culture. Narcotics are one of the five classes of drugs regulated by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in the United States. Classified as a Schedule I substance under the CSA, 21 U.S.C. § 812, heroin has “a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision” (Drug Enforcement Administration 2012a).

Beyond The Gardenia: Billie Holiday

Alphonso D. McClendon

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

Book chapter

Holiday, Billieinfluence of Hollywoodstyleof Billie HolidayHoliday, Billiedress/style ofOn April 7, 1915, Eleanora Fagan, who would later become known as Billie Holiday, was born in Philadelphia to Sadie, a single mother. This simple event did not foreshadow the star that would suddenly shine bright and burn out within a few decades. In Baltimore, Fagan’s Holiday, Billieearly yearsearly years included a laboring mother, an absent father, truancy, rape by a neighbor and time at an institution for

Princess Diana

Julia Petrov

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Nicknamed the “people’s princess,” Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, became a much imitated fashion icon during her short life. Her hairstyles, jewelry, and clothing were coveted by women around the world in the 1980s and 1990s; her image is still popularly reproduced in magazines at every anniversary of her death and in association with events in the lives of her two sons, princes William and Harry. While her fashions no longer look as on trend as they once looked, fans continue to flock to see

Suzanne Lenglen

Jaclyn Pyper

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Suzanne Lenglen was a French tennis player and one of the first female celebrity athletes. Born in Paris in 1899, Suzanne developed her skills on the tennis courts of the French Riviera. Soon after her first win at Wimbledon in 1919, she began to be dressed both on and off the court by the up-and-coming couturier Jean Patou. Suzanne would dominate the international women’s tennis circuit in the 1920s, but her celebrity was equally built on her glamorous lifestyle, clothing, and temperamental pers

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

Introduction, Rationale, Context

Pamela Church Gibson

Source: Fashion and Celebrity Culture 2012

Book chapter

Fashion is the medicament that will console for the phenomenon of forgetting on a collective scale.

Celebrity and Fashion, Past and Present

Pamela Church Gibson

Source: Fashion and Celebrity Culture 2012

Book chapter

‘Celebrity culture’ in a recognizably modern but still rudimentary form could be said to have emerged in the late eighteenth century. The period witnessed the new scientific discoveries and consequent technological developments associated with the Industrial Revolution. They would transform Western society from a predominantly rural one into one increasingly centred on urban and industrial life. Some of the new technologies also made possible the wide circulation of printed material—newspapers, b

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