By Myra Khan
For those of you who don’t speak comics, the DC Comics fandom has been eagerly awaiting the release of the Snyder Cut of Justice League. Since the lukewarm premiere of the original Justice League back in 2017, fans had been calling on Warner Bros. to release the director’s cut of the film in order to experience the uncut story in its full glory. On March 18th, the four-hour-long film will be released on HBO Max to audiences across the world.
Despite the reputation of superhero comics being all about tacky tights and impractical capes, many comic strip artists have tried to implement more chic designs into their stories. In a world full of femme fatale villainesses, supermodels, celebrity journalists, and other understandably stylish individuals, it makes sense for their clothing to be as fashion-forward as it might be in the real world.
In honor of the eagerly anticipated Snyder Cut release as well as Women’s History Month, here are some of the most stylish women of DC Comics for beginners and seasoned fans alike to enjoy.
Selina Kyle: The Catwoman
An ode to the fashion of DC Comics would be severely incomplete without shining a light on the glamorous petty thief, Selina Kyle. The mantle of Catwoman has been bestowed upon many actresses such as Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, Anne Hathaway, and Zoë Kravitz. While each actress has brought her own unique style to the character, no one can lay claim to Selina’s iconic pixie-cut, midnight look as much as comic artist Darwyn Cooke. The late Cooke arguably revolutionized a decades-old character through his art and character design notes alike, creating the Selina that today’s comic fans know and love.
Cooke gave Selina class, finding inspiration in 1950s haute couture, namely Dior and Givenchy, as well as the elegance of Audrey Hepburn. After all, a woman so dedicated to swiping the rarest of gems would no doubt have an eye for style.
Cooke’s influence lives on in Joelle Jones’ designs, especially the stunning black and white lace dress Jones designed for the grand wedding of Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne. The pages of Catwoman: Copycats are filled with winged eyeliner, pearl earrings, glossy lips, black velvet gowns, and diamond everything. Jones’ Selina is chic and sophisticated, but still as deadly as ever.
While Cooke and Jones’ Catwoman rules the day, alternate interpretations of the character, far more goth and campy, are not hard to find. Selina’s designs in Batman: Year One, The Long Halloween and Dark Victory are key examples of this unique take. Fans have been speculating that Kravitz’s Selina will fall into this category as well, though only time will tell.
Talia al Ghul: The Daughter of the Demon
Sometimes the anti-hero, sometimes the villain, Talia al Ghul is ever the femme fatale. Being the single heir to a global assassin guild, Talia’s wardrobe always reflects her pride and power. While many incarnations of the character opt for a simple and sleek black jumpsuit, Talia has been known to don dresses, blouses with pants, and two-pieces.
Joelle Jones’ Rebirth Batman designs pay tribute to Talia’s Arab heritage by adorning her in an embroidered kaftan, the look completed with heavy gold earrings, cuffs, rings, and a necklace. Even while fighting her ex-paramour, Bruce Wayne, Talia keeps her style intact with heavy kohl and gold jewelry.
While the practicality of Talia’s clothes varies and they often require some suspension of disbelief, her outfits never stray too far from their Bond villainess origins. Charm is as key to Talia’s arsenal as each of her swords.
Dinah Lance: The Black Canary
Perhaps one of the most easily recognizable female characters in the DC universe, Dinah Lance’s design has rarely undergone more than minor alterations in the years since her introduction in 1947. Wavy blonde locks, red lips, a black bodysuit, and signature fishnets are all of the necessary ingredients to create this bombshell superheroine.
Recently, in comics such as Injustice: Gods Among Us and Black Canary: Kicking and Screaming, Dinah has a much edgier look. This is especially true in the latter, where she is a part-time vigilante, part-time rock band frontwoman. In these stories, Dinah’s bodysuit and ankle boots get an upgrade to a bustier and thigh-highs, screaming leather from head to toe. Despite these creative liberties, the fishnets remain intact (or mostly intact—rocker Dinah sports some tears here and there).
Dinah’s association with sound and music (courtesy of her sonic scream powers) carries on into her depiction in DC Bombshells United where she is a rockabilly songstress. Dinah’s design in Bombshells combines the vintage hairstyle of her older designs with a fresh outfit, still with her usual black, dark blue, and gold color scheme.
With experimental elements or the classic style, Dinah’s attire remains as bold as the woman herself.
Those of you who grew up watching Teen Titans on Cartoon Network might remember the bubbly ex-princess of Tamaran. Since Princess Koriand’r (Kori) debuted in 1980, it only makes sense that her design showcases the best of the decade. With athletic hot pants, layered crop tops, off-the-shoulder blouses, clashing patterns, bright colors, big hair, and leg warmers, Kori’s wardrobe in The New Teen Titans is never dull.
As a princess, Kori is used to the attention always being on her. During her time on Earth, the six-foot-something, bright orange alien finds herself in quite a similar situation. However, Kori is far from self-conscious, always trying out new outfits suggested by her friends and posing for photoshoots when she’s not busy fighting evil. For the princess, fashion is all about having fun.
While modern incarnations of Kori’s design have significantly toned down the camp of her original wardrobe, Kori’s fiery red curls and statuesque presence remain a staple of the character’s design. While it’s unlikely that we’ll see Anna Diop (Starfire in the live-action Titans show) in a Led Zeppelin-themed workout outfit, Diop’s Kori is as fashion-conscious as ever.
While it’s unlikely that the newest cover of Superman will ever feature Clark Kent in Versace, fashion has always had a place within even the gauchest of superhero comics. Although often overlooked, the style efforts of artists like Cooke, Jones, and many others contribute to the gorgeous aesthetic world of DC Comics in priceless ways.
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