V&A’s upcoming exhibition explores the evolution of menswear

·2-min read
Photo credit: Courtesy of Gucci
Photo credit: Courtesy of Gucci

The V&A will unveil its first ever exhibition dedicated to menswear next year.

Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear will follow how men's fashion has changed over the centuries and how designers, tailors and their wearers have crafted masculinity over the years. It is set to open on 19th March, 2022.

The exhibition will showcase around 100 looks and 100 artworks - from Renaissance paintings to sculptures and films - highlighting both contemporary pieces and historical treasures. It will feature looks by some of fashion’s most exciting designers and brands - including Harris Reed, Gucci, Grace Wales Bonner and Raf Simons - alongside outfits worn by celebrities such as Harry Styles, Billy Porter, Sam Smith and David Bowie, to celebrate the multiplicities of masculine expression and dressing beyond the binary. It will also feature an extract from an all-male ballet performance by Matthew Bourne.

Claire Wilcox and Rosalind McKever, co-curators of the exhibition, said in a statement: "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."

Photo credit: Peter Carter
Photo credit: Peter Carter

The exhibition will be made up of three main galleries - Undressed, Overdressed and Redressed. Undressed will explore the male body and underwear in a utopian dreamscape, while 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. Lastly, the third section, Redressed, will explore the construction and dissolution of the suit, with the exhibition design conveying "the idea of an urban reawakening".

The show joins Africa Fashion, which was announced in January, as the V&A's next headlining fashion display. The anticipated exhibition, which will run from 11 June 2022 to 16 April 2023, will bring together more than 250 objects, drawn from the personal archives of a selection of mid-twentieth century and influential contemporary African fashion creatives, alongside textiles and photographs from the V&A’s collection. Following a major public call-out in January, new acquisitions highlighting African diasporic fashion trends of the day, paired with personal testimonies, will go on show for the first time.

Other exhibitions to take place at the V&A in 2022 include Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature, which will trace the personal journey and legacy of the beloved author and her enduring love of nature, as well as Hallyu! The Korean Wave, a celebration of the creative contributions of South Korea.

'Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear' runs from 19 March – 6 November 2022. Tickets are available to book now here.

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