Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear
Victoria and Albert Museum London, in partnership with Gucci Sainsbury Gallery
March 19 – November 06, 2022
Opening March 2022, Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear will be the first major V&A exhibition to celebrate the power, artistry and diversity of masculine attire and appearance.
The show will trace how menswear has been fashioned and refashioned over the centuries, and how designers, tailors and artists – and their clients and sitters – have constructed and performed masculinity, and unpicked it at the seams. Fashioning Masculinities will present around 100 looks and 100 artworks, displayed thematically across three 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.
From looks by Harris Reed, Gucci, Grace Wales Bonner and Raf Simons, to paintings by Sofonisba Anguissola and Joshua Reynolds, contemporary artworks by Robert Longo and Omar Victor Diop, to an extract from an all-male dance performance by Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, the exhibition will showcase the variety of possible masculinities across the centuries from the Renaissance to the global contemporary.
Outfits worn by familiar faces will be interspersed throughout, from Harry Styles, Billy Porter and Sam Smith, to David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich. Innovative creations and diverse representations will highlight and celebrate the multiplicities of masculine sartorial self-expression, dressing beyond the binary.
Claire Wilcox and Rosalind McKever, co-curators of Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear, said: “Masculine fashion is enjoying a period of unprecedented creativity. It has long been a powerful mechanism for encouraging conformity or expressing individuality. Rather than a linear or definitive history, this is a journey across time and gender. The exhibition will bring together historical and contemporary looks with art that reveals how masculinity has been performed. This will be a celebration of the masculine wardrobe, and everyone is invited to join in.”
Fashioning Masculinities will open with a Craig Green SS2021 ensemble of a deconstructed suit, alluding to the construction and deconstruction of both the masculine body and conventions of masculinity, a theme that will be central throughout the show.
The three main galleries – Undressed, Overdressed, and Redressed – will follow, with the exhibition design by JA Projects. Undressed will explore the male body and underwear in a utopian dreamscape, whilst Overdressed will take visitors into the elite masculine wardrobe in a sumptuous, immersive space with courtly grandeur, featuring oversized silhouettes, abundant colour, and lavish materials. The third section, Redressed, will explore the construction and dissolution of the suit, with the exhibition design conveying the idea of an urban reawakening.