Pop culture and fashion merge at ‘Snoopy and Belle in Fashion’ exhibit

The traveling exhibit features doll variations of ‘Peanuts’ characters in couture outfits commissioned by designers like Betsey Johnson, Diane von Furstenberg and Christian Siriano.

Snoopy and Belle
Photo courtesy of Peanuts Worldwide

The characters in Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comics aren’t usually associated with fashion, but that’s a common misconception. They’ve had a large representation in the fashion industry since Connie Boucher, who had a prominent role in the global expansion of Peanuts merchandise, was contacted to create outfits for dolls of the beloved Schulz character Snoopy. Those requests were the impetus behind the Snoopy in Fashion exhibit, which featured plush Snoopy dolls dressed in one-of-a-kind outfits by designers like Karl Lagerfeld and Betsey Johnson. It travelled around the world from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s, showcasing a unique collection of specially designed haute couture. In 2014, Peanuts Worldwide chose to reimagine the original exhibit by replacing its plush Snoopy dolls with vinyl dolls of Snoopy and Belle, renaming it Snoopy and Belle in Fashion and featuring all new looks from current designers and brands. Since then, the new exhibit has opened in 13 cities globally and will take a brief summer residency at its 14th location: Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax.

The Fair Oaks exhibit, which opened June 21 and will remain on display until July 18, features works by designers that are new to the U.S. leg of Snoopy and Belle in Fashion, including Rachel Zoe, Levi’s,  Justin Timberlake and Tracy Ayala. To celebrate the D.C. area’s politics-inspired style, the exhibit also features new designs by Ashley Biden, daughter of former Vice President Joe Biden, and Barbara Tfank, designer for former first lady Michelle Obama.

Snoopy and Belle
Photo courtesy of Peanuts Worldwide

“Biden’s mini-couture outfits will spotlight her new brand of Livelihood hoodies, and Tfank’s designs will be exact replicas of two dresses that Mrs. Obama wore to state events,” says Melissa Menta, Snoopy and Belle in Fashion’s producer and the senior vice president for marketing and communications at Peanuts Worldwide.

The creative process for this project is entirely up to the individual designers. They also have total creative control over their garments but can receive input from Peanuts Worldwide upon request. “It’s fun to see what they come up with; we always look forward to seeing their sketches first because it gets us excited for the final looks on the dolls,” Menta says. “Justin Timberlake and Tracy Ayala’s William Rast dolls feature Snoopy and Belle in designer jeans with trendy denim and leather jackets. They look ready to hit the country western scene in Nashville. Contrastingly, film costumer Colleen Atwood paid homage to two of the films [for] which she’s won Oscars, dressing Snoopy as the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland and Belle as a geisha girl from Memoirs of a Geisha.”

Once the exhibit stops showing at a location, it continues on to the next stop. When there is downtime between exhibits, the contents are stored as most museum artifacts are. However, it never truly stops travelling, as other dolls absent from the Fair Oaks exhibit still travel in Italy, Japan or the Peanuts Ice Arena in Santa Rosa, California. “The exhibit hasn’t ended, and there are currently no plans to stop touring. We hope to continue to travel it globally,” says Menta.

Snoopy and Belle in Fashion’s main goal is to highlight the collaborative process between designers and the larger Peanuts brand. It also showcases the unique blend of pop culture and fashion. “This exhibit is special because the designers participating have a true affinity for Peanuts, and fans can see that passion come through in their designs,” Menta says. “It’s a unique blend of the couture fashion, art and pop culture worlds that aims to delight and entertain.”

The Snoopy and Belle in Fashion exhibit is currently on display at Fair Oaks until July 18.

Snoopy and Belle
Betsey Johnson’s designs for Snoopy and Belle. / Photo courtesy of Peanuts Worldwide
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