Never before in the illustrious history of comics has the correlation between characters’ aesthetics and fashion been more apparent. From famous designers more obviously showing this connection via pieces that incorporate comic strips (a la Jeffrey Campbell) to top beauty names utilizing superhero-inspirations in recent lines (a la MAC x Archie Comics), this link has never been more present in the couture and commercial realms of fashion.
Utilizing fashion in the context of comics, and vice versa, can add a robust understanding of a select character or fashion items. In the context of comics, well-executed fashion can help to convey a character’s origins and personality in a graceful manner that saves writers from characterizing heroes and villains solely via text. In the domain of fashion, calling references to comic book folklore adds a sense of underlying personality to an item or line, inspiring creativity and depth in the mind of the sartorial participant. In this way, contemporary fashion and comics call upon each other to enhance both of these worlds in a beautifully concise way.
One of the most aesthetically analyzed characters in comic book history is DC’s Wonder Woman
Shown in pop culture as a dominant figure of fictional female empowerment and as an interpretation of an Amazonian warrior princess from Greek mythology, few costumes in contemporary media evoke more meaning than that patriot leotard, boots and golden lasso of truth. But when viewing top fashion items of the last year, it is hard to separate the realm of comic book influence from that of fashion.
Pictured above is a popular Hervé Léger bandage dress whose sweetheart line and curve-hugging shape evokes those of Wonder Women’s leotard, a trend more recently pictured in the most recent Balenciaga RTW show. The accompanying Yves Saint Laurent suede mini bag with golden chain portrays a contemporary ready to wear version of the famous Lasso of Truth, used by Wonder Woman to make her enemies surrender with honesty. While the aforementioned items hold subtle links to the character, fashion also has seen more obvious manifestations of her persona. More apparent is the MADE golden cuff which is reminiscent of Wonder Woman’s infallible cuffs, used to protect her from bullets and enemy onslaught. Finally, the Stella McCartney Nautical Patent Platforms utilize a color canvas eerily evocative of that of Wonder Woman, one which is being largely embraced by the fashion community this season.
That is not to say that only comic book heroes have been influences present aesthetics and vice versa. Marvel’s Venom shows a strong connection to the recent most sartorial themes.
Known to most as the antithesis of Spider-Man, Venom is actually an alien symbiote who, once inhabits a host body, takes on its physical features and strengths. Most famously, Venom Symbiote inhabited Spider-Man, hence Venom’s common portrayal as the Spider-Man symbiote. Venom is known for its ability to protrude spikes, menacing grin, and sleek black physique.
Interchanging with themes in fashion, the comic representation of Venom has been translated into contemporary fashion. In the most recent Alexander Wang RTW show, the main physical characteristics of Venom were highly visible, in terms of color palate, textures and shape. This villain’s sleek black look reflects this season’s penchant for leather textures and sleek looks, as seen by the Sara Berman leather pants. This aesthetic also intertwines with Venom’s persona in the trending use of studs on these sorts of templates, as evidenced by the Balmain embellished leather bustier. Aligning with Venom’s historically terrifying mouth, adorned with protruding spiky teeth and glaring red tongue, above displays accessories expressing this theme, as seen in the red, angular Valentino Swarovski crystal necklace, the Dominic Jones saw blade earrings, the Dominic Jones black gold-plated ring and the Dominic Jones white gold-plated ring. Lastly, the correlation between Venom’s villainous inhabitation of Spider-Man’s body and resulting physique is best visually summed up by the Giuseppe Zanotti spider-strap leather sandals, in its use of a spider that resembles that on Venom’s chest, as well as color scheme and slick textures.
In order to fully digest the contemporary overlaps in these worlds of cultural influence, we will continue to parallel themes in comics and fashion through this column across heroes and villains, big publishers and little publishers, and couture to commercial fashions. Feel free to send in suggestions for characters for us to seek sartorial inspiration from, and to understand the cultural influences derived from said heroes in villains. Stay super fashionable!