Talking with Jill Schulz about Snoopy & Belle Fashion
Jill Schulz, the daughter of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, is a busy woman but took some time out for us. We had the chance to talk to her about the new Snoopy and Belle In Fashion Exhibit.
She shared her excitement over the exhibit and explained that it’s a reimagination of an exhibit that first premiered in 1984. A woman who was in charge of spearheading Peanuts merchandise in Japan went to Charles Schulz, or Sparky as he was called, and asked if she could do this exhibit. He said “yes” and she pulled off this amazing feat of getting all the major designers in the world to design outfits for Snoopy and his sister Belle.
The original exhibit was called “Snoopy in Fashion.” They were plush dolls dressed by famous designers like Chanel, Betsey Johnson and everyone you could possibly imagine. Those dolls have been travelling the world ever since. In 2014 they decided to reimagine the exhibit and got all new designers plus some from the original exhibit.
As they exhibit has been shown around the world new designers have been added. There were 25 designers in 2014, but the current exhibit on display at the Beverly Center in Los Angeles has close to 50 sets of dolls representing almost 50 designers. The new dolls in LA come from designers like Rachel Zoe and Academy Award winner Colleen Atwood.
Some of the designers like Betsey Johnson and Diane Von Furstenberg were part of the original exhibit and other designers had a known affinity for Peanuts.
Peanuts speaks to people in different ways. Whether you go to an amusement park or see the Peanuts movie, but it’s also a fashion brand. If you talk to people in Europe, they see Peanuts as a fashion brand so this is a new way of showing Peanuts to be fashion forward and allowing people to enjoy the characters.
We asked Jill what Sparky would think of this. “I know he would love it. My Dad never liked to travel. He always said, “I’ll go anywhere as long as I can be home by noon.” So it was a great feat when he traveled to Paris to see the original exhibit at the Louvre in 1984. It was a testament to his interest and respect to what these designers were doing with their talents in relationship to his characters. There were many other times when he was going to be traveling overseas and would change his mind within 24 hours of leaving and not go. But the 1984 trip was one he looked forward to. He always had a great respect for all people, their art, and entertainment.”
Jill did share that her dad was not quite a fashion forward type of guy. He was a slacks and sweater guy. He wasn’t one to have a celebrity lifestyle. He wasn’t even a fancy restaurant person. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t interested in fashion. He produced an ice show at the local ice arena for 30 or more years, and always supported the costume designer and took a great interested in making the show look good.
He wasn’t into the fashion himself, but if he did go to a special event or awards show he always dressed well. He would come out in his suit, stand extra tall and say, “What do you think Jill? How does this look?” He was probably a closet fashion guy, and loved dressing up when he had the chance, but there wasn’t much need for it in his day to day lifestyle.
The designers are allowed to do whatever they’d like. The only rule is that they can’t use real animal fur. They then sketch something and design the looks from there.
One of Jill’s memories of the 80s, living in LA and wearing Betsey Johnson all the time, gravitates towards her designs more. She’d say Betsey Johnson just out of loyalty, but all the designers are so great. It’s hard to have a particular favorite.
After the exhibit is over the 1984 dolls are housed in Japan and Italy. The 2014 dolls don’t have a home yet because they’re traveling so much. After the US tour, they’ll be taking the exhibit abroad again. All the 2014 designers have their own set of dolls as well.