You know what they say: Fashion is for people with no sense of style.
While that may be true, every generation operates from a template – be it waistcoats and ruffled sleeves or the crisp look of a 1920’s tweed suit. Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015 explores the history of men’s fashion from 18th century to present. Peacocks, dandies and hipsters, welcome home.
LACMA has recently achieved great success with fashion-focused exhibitions, and its latest offers a journey through three centuries of men’s fashion (1715-2015).
Beginning with the 18th century, male aristocrats wore three-piece suits conspicuous in make and style, and equally as lavish as the opulent dress of their lady companions. The 19th-century “dandy” made famous a more refined brand of expensive elegance which became the hallmark of Savile Row.
By the middle of the last century, designers brought together the op-art of the times and melded music (especially psychedelia) with lifestyle, politics and chic to create the “mod” look popularized through the colorful creations from Carnaby Street (think Twiggy and the young Beatles and Rolling Stones), and much of what’s past has reemerged today – with a twist. The so-called “skinny suit” by day and a nighttime flowered tuxedo serve to both reinforce and tug at preconceptions of what it means to be well-dressed and masculine.
Drawing primarily from LACMA’s renowned collection, Reigning Men makes illuminating connections between history and high fashion. The exhibition traces cultural influences over the centuries, examines how elements of the uniform have profoundly shaped fashionable dress, and reveals how cinching and padding the body was, and is, not exclusive to women. The exhibition features 200 looks, and celebrates a rich history of restraint and resplendence in menswear.
Last modified: July 27, 2017