London’s V&A shines a spotlight on menswear for 2022

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London’s V&A Museum has revealed additional details about its major menswear exhibit, “Fashioning Masculinities” which will launch next year. It will include looks by Harris Reed and Grace Wales Bonner, JW Anderson as well as Comme des Garcons, Raf Sins, and Craig Green.

“Fashioning Masculinities, The Art of Menswear” will open March 2022. It will be the first major V&A exhibit to celebrate the power, artistry, and diversity of masculine attire.

The exhibition will feature around 100 looks and 100 artworks. They will be displayed thematically in three galleries that trace the history of menswear and show how artists, designers, and tailors have created and performed masculinity.

The exhibition will be open from March 19th to November 6th 2022. It will feature contemporary menswear designs by fashion designers such as Harris Reed, Craig Green and Grace Wales Bonner, along with historical treasures from V&A’s collections or landmark loans. These include classical sculptures, photographs and Renaissance paintings. Highlights include Joshua Reynolds’ paintings, Robert Longo’s artworks, and Omar Victor Diop’s works of art. Also, a portion from Matthew Bourne’s all-male dance performance ‘New Adventures’.

Fashioning Masculinities will show possible masculinities from the Renaissance to the present day, featuring familiar faces wearing the outfits. The exhibition celebrates and highlights the many facets of masculine sartorial expression, beyond the binary, including Sam Smith, Harry Styles and Billy Porter, as well as Marlene Dietrich and David Bowie.

Rosalind McKever and Claire Wilcox, co-curators of “Fashioning Masculinities” stated in a statement that: “Masculine Fashion is experiencing an unprecedented period of creativity. It has been an effective tool for encouraging conformity and expressing individuality for a long time. This is not a linear or definitive past, but a journey that spans time and gender.”

The exhibition will feature both historical and contemporary looks, as well as art that shows how masculinity has been done. It will be a celebration for the masculine wardrobe and all are welcome to participate.

Fashioning Masculinities: Opening of the Art of Menswear at the V&A in March 2022

Opening the exhibition will be a Craig Green spring/summer 2021 ensemble consisting of a deconstructed suit. This will refer to the construction and deconstruction both of the masculine body as well as conventions regarding masculinity.

Undressed will examine the male body and the underwear in a utopian fantasyscape. It will also look at how the classical European ideas of masculinity have been challenged and perpetuated over time. Plaster casts from the Apollo Belvedere, Farnese Hermes and other images that depict idealised male bodies in draped textiles will be displayed alongside contemporary and modern representations of the body. These include photographs by David Hockney and Lionel Wendt as well as Calvin Klein advertisements.

This section will feature fashion highlights such as garments by Jean Paul Gaultier, and A-ColdWall’s Samuel Ross. They show how fashion’s obsession with the body has seen a shift in masculine ideals. Instead of evoking classical drapery, they now sculpt flesh to celebrate body diversity. The exhibition will feature excerpts from ‘Arrested Motion’ by Anthony Patrick Manieri. This inclusive portrait series and awareness initiative promotes positive body image.

person wearing headphones and cap

Overdressed will transport visitors to the exclusive masculine wardrobe. It features oversized silhouettes, rich materials such as silk and velvet in bold colours and symbolic patterns that express wealth, status and individuality. You will find armoured breastplates as well as silky smoking suits, elegant capes, ribbons and lace. Grinling Gibbons’ wood carving imitating a Venetian lace cravat is also featured. This section will also contain grooming with makeup and shaving equipment.

Jean-Baptiste Perronneau and Joshua Reynolds will display portraits of aristocratic families alongside pink ensembles from Grace Wales Bonner and Harris Reed, as well as fashion from Kim Jones, Alessandro Michele, Rahemur Rahman and Ahluwalia, along with Fendi and Gucci’s Alessandro Michele. A custom Randi Rahm suit and a full-length embroidered cloak with hot pink lining worn by Billy Porter at 2019’s Golden Globeswill be on display.

The third section, Redressed will examine the construction and dissolution, from Beau Brummell through the current catwalk. It will also reflect on English country tailoring as well as the origins and history of the suit. There will be a mix of historical garments from V&A and contemporary reimaginings including a Nicholas Daley kilt.

Redressed will show how the abundance of mass-produced suits encouraged creativity. Mods, Teddy Boys, and other subcultures sought to define their style through tailoring. This exhibition, which is illustrated through clothing and photography, will also demonstrate this. Along with a collection of frock coats ranging from the mid-nineteenth to the present, the exhibition will show how designers such as Tom Ford for Gucci or Donatella Versace took leather to new heights.

“Fashioning Masculinities – The Art of Menswear” runs at the V&A London from March 19 through November 6, 2022.

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