Snoopy as a Model Is Designers’ Best Friend
Granted, Snoopy could never be considered your typical beagle-next-door. He’s a flying ace, a world-class hockey player, Joe Cool.
But would you ever imagine that in his little beagle breast, above his slightly protruding tummy, beats the heart of a Beau Brummell?
It’s true. Snoopy has indeed become a dandy. Thanks to a project called “Snoopy in Fashion,” he has bounded from one famous designer to another (with his sister Belle in tow), having his 18-inch frame outfitted to the nines by the likes of Oscar de la Renta, Oleg Cassini, Issey Miyake, Nancy Heller and Thierry Mugler.
All told, more than 100 celebrated names--from Fendi to L.L. Bean--have dressed Snoopy and Belle in anything from full-length furs to leg-revealing shorts.
Being the exhibitionist he is, Snoopy has taken his prestigious glad rags around the world. They have appeared in Paris, London, Milan and Tokyo, as well as Snoopy’s gift shop in Santa Rosa, Calif.
Now the exhibit is at the art gallery of Cal State Fullerton, where the clothes are causing a slight stir.
Marilyn Moore, assistant to the gallery’s director, explains: “We get a lot of people asking why the exhibit is being held here. My answer is that clothing designers are artists. You can look at the color, line and texture as art.”
Other frequently asked questions concern the absence of Snoopy dressed as a World War I flying ace (no designer chose to treat that fantasy), the cost of each outfit (fairly expensive), the availability of copies (the clothes are one-of-a-kind) and why designers did it.
“Art and fashion don’t have to be deadly serious,” is Moore’s response. “Designers do have a whimsical side.”
“Children,” she observes, “like the more glitzy clothes. But adults gravitate toward the names.”
Oscar de la Renta’s evening finery and David and Elizabeth Emanuel’s bridal party are turning out to be some of the adult favorites, while children tend to prefer Snoopy dressed as a king by Pierre Balmain or dressed as a Latin dandy by Brazilian designer Clodovil.
Some designers did no more than supply a special fabric, but others took the project (organized by Determined Productions, the firm that makes the Snoopy dolls) more to heart.
Designer Nancy Heller’s assistant, Jackie Terrell, recalls “the idea came at a time when we were very busy doing other things, but it was such a fun project that we got a kick out of it. We looked up some styles we had done for women and sent the Snoopys over to our factory where the patterns were scaled down from our ladies’ line.”
Terrell says the idea was to make Snoopy and Belle look “cruise-y. That’s what we’re known for.”
The Heller crew also added some on-the-job fashion flair. “We wear mixed elements, like tennis shoes with cashmere,” Terrell notes. “Since Snoopy’s clothes had a French nautical look we wanted to add something offbeat.” So they gave Snoopy a pair of baby-size leather sneakers and Belle a pair of baby-size huaraches.
Charles Schulz, creator of the 35-year-old Snoopy comic strip, finds the exhibit “really delightful. I suppose it’s the fact that each of the designers could identify so closely with Snoopy and join me in creating the fantasies that he frequently lives.” If nothing else, the special exhibit has brought Belle out of the closet.
Schulz explains where Snoopy’s sister has been hiding all these years:
“A long time ago Snoopy was on his way to Wimbledon, passing through Kansas City. He is one of eight puppies and he knew he had a sister, Belle, there. I thought it would be kind of cute to show his sister. But I discovered showing Snoopy with his brothers or sisters took away from his uniqueness. I would never do it again.
“I never really cared for Belle. As a character, she never gave me the ideas I wanted. I did have Snoopy fantasize that she was working for the Red Cross, serving doughnuts, when he was a World War I flying ace. But she hasn’t been seen since, and she probably won’t be seen again.”
(Snoopy and Belle are on view at Cal State Fullerton through Nov. 17. They also appear in “Snoopy in Fashion,” a book of full-color illustrations published by Libro Port Co. Ltd., Tokyo.)