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A souper valuable pop art dress from Campbell’s Soup

The Souper Dress could be obtained for $1 and 2 can labels

It’s a piece of clothing. It’s advertising. It’s pop art. It’s ephemera. It’s the Souper Dress. Created by Campbell’s Soup, this is a dress specifically designed to help sell cans of soup by riding on the coattails of Andy Warhol’s iconic image from 1962.

It’s a disposable, screen-printed dress made of 20% cotton and 80% cellulose. The label says it’s fire resistant (remember everyone smoked in the 1960s) unless washed or cleaned.

Andy Warhol

Advertised via print ads (“a pretty groovy deal just for enjoying Campbell’s Vegetable Soup”), soup eaters had to mail off two labels from Campbell’s soup tins and $1 in order to receive a dress.

Today, surviving Souper Dresses are worth thousands of dollars. There are three of them listed for sale on AbeBooks.com at $4,000, $4,965 and $5,175 respectively.

This is an example of industry following art. Today, famous pieces of art are often referenced in advertising but it is rare that the consumer can become involved by wearing the promotional object. It’s a shame that Campbell’s didn’t develop a Souper Suit.

Warhol’s initial soup can image – featuring 32 separate canvases, each featuring a different variety of soup – introduced pop art to many people. The image was met with bemusement when it was first displayed. Why would an artist focus on something so mundane? It turned out to be a ground-breaking moment in modern art as more and more images from mass culture began to be incorporated into fine art. Warhol went on to make numerous variations on the soup can image. The original can be seen in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

“No cleaning – No washing….”

This Souper Dress costs $4,000 from food specialist lizzyoung bookseller

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