The Art of Menswear
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- Publication Date: June 7, 2022
- Imprint: V & A Publishing
- Trim Size: 9 1⁄2 x 12 1⁄4
- ISBN: 9781838510114
- Page Count: 272
- Illustrations: 208 color illustrations
- Rights: North America
A visually stunning exploration of how fashion shapes ideas of masculinity
At a moment of unprecedented creativity in men’s fashion, and continuing reflections on gender, contemporary designers are questioning established forms, seeking to liberate wearers from traditional models of masculine dress.
This book combines fashion with artistic and broader cultural histories – looking at the designers, tailors and artists who have constructed and performed masculinity from the Renaissance to the present day. It traces connections across and beyond European menswear, celebrating both rich traditions and daring individualists.
Divided into three parts, Undressed reveals the role of the body and underwear in fashioning masculinities. Overdressed explores the power dynamics of sartorial bravado, while Redressed deconstructs a modern masculine uniform: the black suit.
Featuring a staggering range of cultural touchstones from Hercules to Virgil Abloh, Giovanni Battista Moroni to Jawaharlal Nehru, Yves Saint Laurent to Kehinde Wiley, Marcus Rashford, Marlene Dietrich and even Captain America, Fashioning Masculinities challenges our preconceptions about menswear, revealing the fascinating historical roots beneath the power, artistry and diversity of masculine attire and appearance today.
“Billy Porter’s hot pink Golden Globes cloak and Harry Style’s embroidered Gucci suits are set to have a fashion face-off with the Belvedere Apollo and Auguste Rodin in the V&A’s upcoming exhibition dedicated to the evolution of menswear.”—The Guardian on the exhibition
“Key looks worn by fashion icons will also be interspersed throughout, from Harry Styles, Billy Porter and Sam Smith, to David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich, highlighting the multiplicities of masculine sartorial self-expression, dressing beyond the binary.”—Women’s Wear Daily on the exhibition
This exhibition is an active investigation into the way men dress and the very idea of masculinity itself. What better time for a studied enquiry than now – with male fashion at its most groundbreaking pioneered by the likes of Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, who was behind the gown and tailored jacket worn by Harry Styles on the cover of American Vogue. He has said: ‘Fashion should be genderless; how people perceive the idea of beauty can vary from one to another,’ so let us continue this enquiry.Tatler —
Much like the exhibition, the book centers first on the male physique and shifting ideals over time – how that influenced 19th-century tailoring, and how it looks today, represented by body builders like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who mad his Mr. Olympia-winning body into a movie career, and the muscular stars of the Marvel super hero films . . . There is a feeling of maybe more plurality than there has been previously.WWD —
Along the way, the theme of each section is underscored by paintings, sculpture, ceramics, photography and other objects from the museum’s collection, and in the case of the book, dozens of short essays from museum curators, academics and fashion critics exploring the links between classical statuary and Marvel superheroes or Renaissance portraiture and hip-hop (poignantly, its afterword is penned by the late Virgil Abloh). The book also devotes more time to accessories, and the roles played by identity, history and geography. . . And while the exhibition and book address the current relationship between masculinity and dress, visitors and readers should come away with the understanding that it’s always been fluid.The Robb Report —
About the author
Rosalind McKever is Curator of Paintings and Drawings at the V&A
Claire Wilcox is Senior Curator in the Department of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion at the V&A and Professor in Fashion Curation at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts, London.
Marta Franceschini is Exhibition Research Assistant at the V&A