V&A opens new menswear exhibition this weekend
‘Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear’ is set to open at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London this weekend (19 March).
Launched in partnership with Italian fashion house Gucci, the comprehensive menswear exhibition explores three themes: Undressed, Overdressed and Redressed, aiming to link modern men’s fashion to its rich and varied history.
Curators Claire Wilcox, Rosalind McKever and Marta Franceschini aim to “unpick our preconceptions of European ideals of masculinity”.
Spanning from 1565 to present day, Fashioning Masculinities showcases from fashion designers including Raf Simons, Alexander McQueen, JW Anderson, and Virgil Abloh. It also features historical examples (from Beau Brummell and Oscar Wilde to Cecil Beaton, David Bowie and the Beatles) of the way men dress and dressed.
“This show is not chronological,” Wilcox told The Guardian. “We’ve juxtaposed the past with the present and tried to show the parallels in the way men have dressed.”
McKever added: “There’s a contemporary question of visibility, but if you go back there’s a history of [this in the] 19th, 18th and even 17th century, people were not gender conformists and instead they were expressing themselves through their clothes.”
Despite the scope of the Fashion Masculinities, the curators say they have “only skimmed the surface of men’s fashion… It’s been impossible to reflect the whole of menswear in one show,” Wilcox said. “We hope this is the first of many.”
In his introduction to the exhibition, Gucci creative director Alessandro Michelle says: “In a patriarchal society, masculine gender identity is often moulded by violently toxic stereotypes… Any possible reference to femininity is aggressively banned, as it is considered a threat against the complete affirmation of a masculine prototype that allows no divergencies. There is nothing natural in this drift. The model is socially and culturally built to reject anything that does not comply with it.”
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