Presidential hopefuls are "superheroes" in Vogue

MILAN (Reuters Life!) - Presidential hopefuls Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain could all be considered examples of superheroes, Anna Wintour, editor of U.S. Vogue magazine, told Reuters on Wednesday.

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“We always need superheroes and it’s encouraging that we have both a woman and an African-American running for president, and a prisoner of war,” she said at a presentation in Italy for the U.S. exhibition “Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy.”

“They are all in their own way superheroes,” she added.

The exhibition will be held at New York’s Metropolitan Museum from May 7 to September 1. It has the support of Italian designer Giorgio Armani and Conde Nast, which publishes Vogue.

Harold Koda, curator of the Costume Institute at the museum, said his own superhero was Spiderman.

“He has ... a dark whimsy that I enjoy,” Koda said.

He added that most of the designers showing pieces at the exhibition “seem to prefer the black version” of Spiderman, known as “Venom.”

Armani’s design of a brown silk long dress covered in a metallic spider’s web from a 1990 collection will make an appearance against a backdrop of Venom, as well as British designer Gareth Pugh’s metal articulated spider outfit.

The exhibition will feature about 60 outfits including movie costumes, avant-garde haute couture and high-performance sportswear.

“The timing was intended to overlap with the Olympics in Beijing,” Koda said, adding that this echoed the idea that superheroes were “forever young, forever youthful and ... conform to the highest ideals of human beauty.”

Wintour, in Milan for the womenswear winter 2008-09 fashion shows which run until February 23, said designer Prada’s show had fitted with the theme of the exhibition.

“Maybe I’m prejudiced but I saw superheroes last night,” she told Reuters.

Miuccia Prada’s idiosyncratic show concentrated on heavy, Chantilly lace outfits in black with pale blue or neutral bodies underneath and high, winged shoes in bronze or black patent.

Armani, whose shows were on Sunday and Monday, joked that he was his own “superhero,” adding “I have no other reference points.”

“The power of fashion, like the power of the superhero, lies in its ability to transcend the humdrum and the commonplace,” Armani said in a statement.

Reporting by Jo Winterbottom, editing by Paul Casciato