ManStyle At The National Gallery Of Victoria

January 13th, 2011

This March, the National Gallery of Victoria will showcase the first exhibition in Australia to focus on men’s fashion from the 18th century to the present day. For me, this is one very exciting event that I will be traveling to Melbourne to see.

Drawn largely from the NGV Collection, ManStyle will feature over 80 works including outfits and a selection of paintings exploring influential ideas in menswear over the past three centuries.

Charting a course between flamboyant display and absolute restraint, the exhibition begins in the 18th century with the evolution of the modern suit and concludes with contemporary outfits from today’s menswear designers.

ManStyle will explore the elegantly honed lines and details of the dandy in the 19th century, a period which heralded the rise of tailoring.

This exhibition will include recent works by contemporary designers such as Hedi Slimane for Dior Homme, who have drawn upon this legacy of exacting tailoring for a new generation of young men. Roger Leong, Curator, International Fashion and Textiles, NGV said: “Men’s fashion is often seen as bound by tradition when in fact it has undergone a number of profound changes that reflect the shifting attitudes to class, sexuality, work and leisure over the past three centuries.”

Katie Somerville, Curator, Australian Fashion and Textiles, NGV said the House of Merivale was Australia’s answer to this new, colourful trend. “Embodying the Carnaby Street look and style of bands like The Beatles, design houses such as Biba and the House of Merivale dressed men in flamboyant, body-hugging suits with wide flared trousers and shirts of contrasting patterns.

“During this period men ‘dressed up’, preened and flaunted their bodies in a new display of ostentatious masculine style. By the late 1970s, men’s style had fractured into a heady mix of alternatives. ManStyle features works by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, who defined the punk era with their ripped and distressed clothes plastered with offensive and anarchic slogans and symbols.

This exhibition also captures the intense mood of the 1980s; which witnessed an outpouring of creativity across the spectrum of art, music and fashion, unleashing ideas from underground club cultures that reconfigured ideas about men’s sexuality.”

Gerard Vaughan, NGV Director said: “By defining these periods in men’s fashion, visitors will be able to discover the contrasting identities men have experimented with over the past three centuries. “Visitors will be mesmerised and surprised by the richness of works in this Australia-first exhibition, showcasing the NGV’s magnificent Collection of this otherwise under-documented genre.”

This exhibition will feature works by Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier, Morrissey & Edmiston, Leigh Bowery, Walter Van Beirendonck, Romance Was Born, Bernhard Willhelm, Rick Owens, Pierre Cardin, Biba and many more.

ManStyle will be on display at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square and NGV International, St Kilda Road from 11 March to 27 November. Admission is free.

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