Of Comic Books and Couture


The relationship is no laughing matter. The 2 art kinds have more in typical than you may think, as a new exhibition makes clear.

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In 1967, Yves Saint Laurent introduced La Vilaine Lulu, the beastly little star of a comics– or bande dessinée– that he composed and showed.

Short and squat with a froggy face, wearing a beribboned boater and a scarlet cancan skirt that she would turn up to expose her naked derrière, La Vilaine Lulu intimidated her teachers, schoolmates, passers-by– well, everybody, really. A devil kid, that Lulu.

Now she is a cornerstone for “Mode et Bande Dessinée” (” Fashion and Comic Books”), which its organizers say is the very first significant exhibit to take a thorough look at style in comic books and graphic novels, through Jan. 5 at the Cité Internationale de la Bande Dessinée et de l’Image in Angoulême, France.

As the fall couture season begins on Monday in Paris, the show is a suggestion that, while high-end fashion is frequently viewed as elitist, it has a way of dripping down commercially and creatively to unforeseen yet extremely available locations– and vice versa. Comic-Con International and the fancy character attire worn by fans are simply one flash of the impact.

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” Jean Paul Gaultier, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and Thierry Mugler were certainly affected by B.D.s,” stated Thierry Groensteen, the exhibit’s curator, using the French nickname, pronounced “bay-days,” for comics. “You see it in Castelbajac’s sweatshirt gowns, with B.D. motifs, and Mugler’s Cat Lady match, with its cagoule with little ears.” Both are represented in the show.

Two hours by train from Paris, Angoulême is France’s capital of comic books. Each year considering that 1974, it has actually hosted the Angoulême International Comic Festival, a four-day occasion that last year drew more than 200,000 B.D. lovers. The Cité, which opened in 1990, now houses 13,000 initial plates and 250,000 B.D.s– the world’s second largest collection of French-language comics (after the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State University in Columbus).

Pierre Lungheretti, the Cité’s director, stated its collection traces the category, understood formally in France as “the 9th art,” from “the birth of comics in the 19 th century to today.”

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In addition to the museum, which has about 70,000 visitors a year, there is a reference library, two screening rooms, book shop, a restaurant and houses where as many as 50 comic book authors are welcomed to spend from three months to 4 years working on their latest projects.

So enjoyed are comics in France that the Ministry of Culture has actually stated 2020 the “Année de la B.D.,” with lots of events scheduled throughout the country.

” Twenty-five years ago, about 500 comic books were released every year” worldwide, Mr. Lungheretti stated and now it’s 5,000 “In a world saturated with images and graphics, comic books open the human creativity and an analysis of society that permits for satire, humor, and poetry.”

Likewise some terrific clothing.

Strangely Enough, Mr. Lungheretti stated, no museum besides the Metropolitan Museum of Art and its 2008 “ Superheroes: Dream and Fashion” program has installed an extensive expedition of the relationship between comics and clothes. And yet, “there have actually constantly been characters who were worn really identifiable or signature outfits,” he said, mentioning Bécassine, a young Breton housemaid who initially appeared in a French weekly in 1905 and traditionally has actually been depicted in a long green peasant dress, white apron, head headscarf and obstructions.

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” Even Tintin has an appearance,” Mr. Lungheretti said.

The Cité’s six-part exhibition starts with a study of similar pen strokes discovered in renderings by designer like Elsa Schiaparelli and Saint Laurent and such B.D. luminaries as Winsor McCay, the early 20 th-century American cartoonist of “Little Nemo,” and Jean Giraud, the French artist likewise referred to as Moebius, who died in 2012.

In this area La Vilaine Lulu turns up at her most naughty– hosing friends with ice water, stringing up innocents, lashing adults to bedposts or tossing them out skyscraper windows– in original illustrations on loan from the Musée Yves Saint Laurent in Paris. “It’s impressive to see that Saint Laurent selected this mode of expression to illustrate his universe, with a creativity that was very tortured, even violent,” Mr. Lungheretti said, including that the comic “describes a lot who he was.”

The program then turns to B.D. tributes and affects on the catwalk and in marketing, such as Parfums Dior’s Eau Sauvage campaign of 2001, which featured Corto Maltese, the enigmatic title character of Hugo Pratt’s high seas experience series. There also are panels from Marvel’s Millie the Design, which ran from 1945 to 1973, as well as Les Triplés, a routine comic function about three precocious children that has actually appeared in Madame Figaro, Le Figaro’s weekly style supplement, since 1983.

For a 1990 strip, the Triplés author Nicole Lambert, herself a previous design, drew a camellia-adorned black velvet boater similar to one Karl Lagerfeld had initially developed for Chanel (the animation and hat are both on display). Though possibly no B.D. so carefully signed up with the shows and the comic squares as Annie Goetzinger’s “Jeune Fille en Dior,” or “Girl in Dior,” a 2013 graphic book that recounted the experiences of a junior style press reporter covering the couture home’s first défilé.

As the brand name gets ready for yet another, it could be required reading on the front row.

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