The Man with a Secret. Fashioning the ‘Camp’ Superman Body

Central Saint Martins: MA Dissertation Extract 2020 

By Zara Korutz

Superman, like Andy Warhol, represents a manifestation of Pop-culture which provides a window into social attitudes and beliefs. The Warhol philosophy of egalitarian art, reflected in Pop-culture, blends cultural boundaries which creates an environment whereby entry to participation is easy with sense of belonging that is high. Through the lens of Fashion Critical Studies, this project is connected to ‘Camp’ and Pop-culture with threads of debate related to masculinity and queerness which is revealed in the complexity of Superman’s fashioned body. 

‘Camp’ can be considered, if you will, the use of stylised material objects in fashion used to create a safe physical fantasy space that is an aesthetic system birthed out of survival against the perils of hegemonic masculinity. Pragmatically, recovery and healing is moving towards pleasure and away from pain. ‘Camp’ is a way of listening to that flow of energy—without reservation and with confidence and security. In this sense, fashion holds the power to transform, shape identity, and be a shield that can protect and heal. 

Fashion can break down walls and transcend worlds through a universal shared language of fantasy and play. By letting go of reality, audiences connect to a belief system which allows pleasure in the ordinary to be transformed into the extraordinary— which is why Superman holds so much cultural power.

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