Not about to be left out in the doghouse during New York Fashion Week, the latest installment of “Snoopy & Belle in Fashion” is on view at Brookfield Place.
Oscar de la Renta’s Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, Tony Award-winning costume designer Paul Tazewell, Betsey Johnson and Livelihood designer Ashley Biden have whipped up the newest additions featured in the monthlong downtown show. The simply spoken, colorful characters created by Charles M. Schulz have had many incarnations, due predominantly to 1,000-plus licenses. Off-duty from her role as head of the Charles M. Schulz Museum, the artist’s widow Jeannie Schulz said, “The staying power of Peanuts is that it encompasses all of the things we have to deal with as humans — fear, insecurity, we all know, but also great joy.”
She continued, “The staying power of this particular fashion exhibit is partially because Snoopy is such an engaging character. He has such multiple personalities — the sly dog, the arrogant dog, the dog who only wants a supper dish. What Snoopy represents is what we would all like to be. This character who steps out into the world and sort of takes it over with the happy dance for spring and shows this great exuberance. You don’t see exuberance a lot.”
The first batch of Snoopy-inspired fashions were showcased with Schulz’s comic strips in 1990 at the Louvre, thanks to Determined Productions founder Connie Boucher. “It was called Determined because she started it in her garage, like all good people. She created the first plush Snoopy doll and she started going to fashion designers in 1984 asking them to design clothes for Snoopy and Belle,” Jeannie Schulz said. Kim’s and Garcia’s black-and-white embroidered organza gown for Belle and tux for Snoopy are paired with the outfits designed by the late de la Renta for the inaugural show in 1990. The design duo also created outfits for the characters in their roles as Monse.
Johnson, who first created Peanuts-inspired looks in 1984, has reprised her designs. “They look like her — they’re just totally wild,” Schulz said.
In its 50th year, Peanuts will still resonate with people 50 years from now. “Things like this bring it to the attention of people who might have either loved Snoopy when they were little. And now they’re 30 and they’re worried about whether their job is going to last until tomorrow. When they see this now, it reinvigorates the spark,” Schulz said.
Charles Schulz, who died in 2000, was more of a sweater man, always keeping an eye out for cashmere V-neck ones to sport golfing. The owners of a local store used to coordinate different outfits for the cartoonist to wear to the PGA’s Bob Hope Classic and other tournaments, even photographing outfits to illustrate what goes with what. “Well, sometimes he would put on other pants, and I would think, ‘Should I tell him? No, I won’t tell him,’” Jeannie Schulz said. “After he passed away, I gave a lot of his sweaters to special friends as mementos. That was his fashion. I gave some of his baseball gloves because we used to play baseball at the cartoonists’ convention.”
In May, the Iconix Group sold its 80 percent stake in “Peanuts” to DHX Media in a $345 million deal. The remaining 20 percent continues to be owned by the Schulz family. Fashion continues to be a leading category among the 1,000-plus licenses, including Peanuts rides and designated areas in 11 amusement parks, according to Melissa Menta, senior vice president of licensing. Gucci featured “Peanuts” characters on a men’s wear collection last year and Vans introduced its own interpretation of footwear a few months ago. LeSportsac and Coach are other collaborators and a major American brand will soon reveal another “Peanuts” deal.
As the head of the Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif., Jeannie Schulz is getting ready for the next exhibition, “Mud Pies and Jellybeans,” which will focus on food from Peanuts comic strips. After seeing a jellybean dress in a “cartoony popular magazine shop” in a Portland, Ore., boutique, she decided one must be made for the upcoming show. “I hope that when I get home, the volunteers will have made at least a jellybean shirt, if not a dress.”