Billy Porter’s hot-pink Golden Globes cloak and Harry Styles’ embroidered Gucci suits are set to have a fashion face-off with the Belvedere Apollo and Auguste Rodin in the V&A’s upcoming exhibition dedicated to the evolution of menswear.
The first retrospective of its kind at the South Kensington museum, Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear aims to celebrate the flamboyant foundations of men’s fashionBy juxtaposing more than 100 looks with 100 sculptures or artworks, spanning from 1565 through the present day.
“The whole spirit of the show is to give that creative confidence and empowerment to our visitors in terms of them really thinking about why they dress the way they do,”Rosalind McKever, co-curator of the exhibition with Claire Wilcox (and Marta Franceschini), said. “These questions have always been shifting, and we can use our understanding of menswear history to inform our understanding of masculinity today.”
It has been in development since 2019, and is scheduled to open in March 2022. The timing of its opening is perfect. With male style icons challenging red carpet convention and encouraging a more inclusive, diverse community fashionLandscape is experiencing an increasing amount of “energy and sense of momentum”McKever says so.
The Gucci-sponsored show will feature oil paintings by Joshua Reynolds and Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, who are both colourful 18th-century artists. They will be accompanied by magenta creations from rising stars. fashionGrace Wales Bonner and Harris Reed show that colours such as hot-pink can be found “associated with femininity wrongly”Wilcox agrees.
Elsewhere, items by contemporary designers JW Anderson and Ludovic de Saint Sernin – who are famous for accentuating the male form through the use of sheer and fluid fabrics – are joined by a plaster cast of the textile-draped Farnese Hermes sculpture, 20th-century prints and photography by David Hockney and a Calvin Klein advert.
“There is a metaphor there about the translucency of fabric and a new honesty in menswear which ties very nicely with the historical side of our exhibition,”Wilcox adds
The suit’s inception and evolution is also explored. “The burst of energy in the 60s and 70s and the fashion of today are a sort of rebellion against the corrective nature of the suit,”Wilcox. “As wonderful as tailoring fabric to the body is as an extraordinary example of craft, at the same time it has been something to rebel against.”
The exhibition will follow several high profile events fashionExhibitions for V&A, including Balenciaga, Shaping Fashion, Mary Quant as well as the record-breaking Christian Dior, Designer of Dreams.