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Victoria and Albert Museum: “Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear”

New Adventures, Spitfire – an advertisement. Director & Choreographer Matthew Bourne. Photo: Kaasam Aziz

Victoria and Albert Museum in London will host “Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear,” an exhibition that examines the power, artistry and diversity of masculine attire and appearance, in partnership with Gucci. The exhibition will be held from March 19 to November 6.

The exhibition, co-curated by Claire Wilcox and Rosalind McKever, will present around 100 looks and 100 artworks from the Renaissance to the modern world, displayed across three main galleries. Contemporary looks by legendary designers and rising stars will be displayed alongside historical treasures from the V&A's collections and landmark loans: classical sculptures, Renaissance paintings, iconic photographs, and powerful film and performance. The show will present looks by Gucci, Harris Reed, Grace Wales Bonner and Raf Simons, to paintings by Sofonisba Anguissola and Joshua Reynolds, contemporary artworks by David Hockney and Omar Victor Diop, to an extract from an all-male dance performance by Matthew Bourne's New Adventures.

The three galleries will be divided into three themes: Undressed, Overdressed and Redressed. Undressed explores the male body and underwear, looking at how classical European ideals of masculinity have been perpetuated and challenged over the centuries. Plaster casts of the Apollo Belvedere and the Farnese Hermes will be juxtaposed with fashion by Jean-Paul Gaultier and A-Cold-Wall, and prints and photography by Lionel Wendt, Zanele Muholi and Isaac Julien.

Autumn Winter 2020 Flower Boy two-piece set, by Orange Culture, photographed by Mikey Oshai, image courtesy of Adebayo Oke-Lawal. © Orange Culture

The Overdressed section will explore the elite masculine wardrobe featuring armored breastplates, smoking suits, sweeping capes, ribbons and lace. Through the lens of contemporary fashion designers including Rahemur Rahman and Kim Jones, Overdressed will show how historic ideas begin to shift, with a full rainbow of masculine outfits on display.

Portrait of Prince Alessandro Farnese Roy Hewson/Courtesy

The final part of the exhibition, Redressed, will highlight the origins and the evolution of a suit, with historic garments from the V&A collection shown alongside contemporary re-imaginings, including a kilt by Nicholas Daley. It will also show how a new wave of fashion designers from Rick Owens to JW Anderson to Comme des Garçons to Lesiba Mabitsela are slashing away at conventions, both for menswear, and masculinity.

Jean-Baptiste Belley, by Omar Victor Diop, 2014, Pigment inkjet print on Harman by Hahnemühle paper. Courtesy MAGNIN-A Gallery, Paris. © Omar Victor Diop

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