The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015, a major survey exploring the history of men’s fashionable dress from the 18th to the early 21st century. I recently attended a press preview on behalf of the exhibition and found it beautifully curated by LACMA’s Costume and Textiles department. The exhibition features amazing historical dress and uniforms in menswear from the past four centuries and is rounded out by a collection of great contemporary masters like – Alexander McQueen, Saint Laurent, Etro, Vivienne Westwood, Jeremy Scott, Jean Paul Gaultier, Thom Browne, Gucci, Dries Van Noten and Walter Van Beirendonck.
Re-examining the frequent association of “fashion” with “femininity,” the five thematic sections of the exhibition’s 300-year survey—Revolution/Evolution, East/West, Uniformity, Body Consciousness, and The Splendid Man—reveal that early fashion trends were informed by what men were wearing, as much as they were by women’s dress.
Reigning Men makes illuminating connections between history and high fashion, tracing cultural influences over the centuries, examining how elements of the uniform have profoundly shaped fashionable dress, and revealing how cinching and padding the body was, and is, not exclusive to women.
The exhibition, featuring 200 looks drawn mostly from LACMA’s renowned permanent collection of costume and textiles. Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015 will be on view from April 10th – August 21st 2016 www.lacma.org
*Photo Credits – Images 1 (l to r) Coat, Vest, and Breeches, France, c. 1790, Los Angeles County Museum of Art – Coat, and Vest, France c. 1800, Los Angeles County Museum of Art – Macaroni Ensemble: Suit, Italy, probably Venice, c. 1770, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Images 2 (l to r) Johnson Hartig for Libertine, Ensemble, A/W 2009-10, Los Angeles County Museum of Art – Jeremy Scott with Adidas, Ensemble, A/W 2013-14, Los Angeles County Museum of Art – Walter Van Beirendonck, Ensemble, A/W 2000-1, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Images 3 (l to r) Kean Etro for Etro, Ensemble, A/W 2014-15, Los Angeles County Museum of Art – Suit, Europe, c. 1915, Los Angeles County Museum of Art – Army Tank Suit, England, 1940-45, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
All photos © Museum Associates/LACMA