Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear ★★★★ Victoria & Albert Museum | Mar 19 - Nov 6, 2022


How do clothes make the man? In the past two years there has been a fifty-percent drop in the sale of men's suits. Will this change post pandemic, or is there a revolution going on in male fashion? Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear is an absolutely fascinating exhibition that features over 100 looks and 100 artworks presented thematically rather than historically. It all starts even before the underwear with a look at how the western view of the male body has been defined by a Greco-Roman aesthetic and how clothing has been used to reinforce that concept. The three galleries of the exhibition begin with Underdressed and then proceed through Overdressed, and Redressed. From an initial exposure to the weird and wonderful world of undergarments and how they have developed, we are then carried along to the world of the male peacock. Overdressed shows the male proclivity for extravagance and display through the ages. And then in the third room, Redressed, we meet a monochrome reality and the domination of the suit that becomes the staple of most male wardrobes. The takeaway here, however, is that while fashion might become an instrument to encourage conformity, it only ensures that the display of individuality becomes more artful. The need to standout and preen never vanishes. From celebrities like Harry Styles, Billy Porter and Sam Smith, to the youth in Jennie Baptiste's picture "Brixton Boyz" the definition and performance of masculinity may be very different but it evolves and is defined through fashion.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Image: Thom Browne, SS20, look 10. Courtesy of Thom Browne

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