Mad About The Boy

Meadham Kirchhoff SS13 (Photo courtesy of Meadham Kirchoff) / Mad About The Boy

Meadham Kirchhoff SS13 (Photo courtesy of Meadham Kirchoff)

Fashion’s obsession with youth transcends fads. It isn’t confined to just a handful of young designers who like to imagine they are dressing themselves, and is present at the pinnacle of luxury fashion. From Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent to Saint Martin’s graduate shows, the teenage boy goes hand in hand with the international fashion scene. “When you envision a fashion show, you think about a dream, and when I want to dream, I like to work with youth,” Gucci’s former creative director, Frida Giannini, said while casting for the house’s menswear show in the James Franco directed documentary, The Director. From the excesses of the post-war Roaring Twenties to now – just two months ago, Vogue Italia released an entire issue, shot by Mert & Marcus, celebrating the youth of now – that teenage charm and possibility has inspired countless creatives.

It is this fascination with it, specifically in menswear, that has led to a new exhibition to be launched on the first day of London Collections: Men in January, aptly titled Mad About The Boy. The group exhibition curated by SHOWstudio editor, Lou Stoppard, explores fashion’s preoccupation with youth, focusing on the way ideas of the teenage boy – whether in the models themselves or the inspirations behind the clothes they wear – are constructed through definitive collections and fashion images. Designers and image-makers including J.W. Anderson, Raf Simons, Christopher Shannon, Nazir Mazhar, Kim Jones, Nick Knight, Larry Clark, Patrick Robyn and Judy Blame will all be part of the exhibition of works to run from 8 January to 2 April 2016 at London College of Fashion’s Fashion Space Gallery.

Christopher Shannon SS16 (photo courtesy of Christopher Shannon) / Mad About The Boy

Christopher Shannon SS16 (photo courtesy of Christopher Shannon)

Mad About The Boy will explore the many ideals and notions of the young male that feature in fashion’s imagination – from anarchic rebel, to skaters and ravers – deciphering what it is about them that makes them so perfect to add desirability to fashion’s own image. These notions will be displayed in a series of themed displays, designed by Tony Hornecker: from a school toilet defaced with graffiti and flyers, to the recreation of the Meadham Kirchhoff spring/summer 2013 menswear presentation, immersing each visitor in the different identities of male youth that manifests in fashion today.

 

“The fluidity and possibility of the teenage years seems to unite fashion’s obsession with the boy,” explained Lou Stoppard. “A time of perceived infinite opportunity, spontaneity and creative freedom. Designers young and old return to the same themes, constructing, rehashing and shaping the dream male, season in season out.”

Backstage at J.W. Anderson's SS16 menswear show. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

Backstage at J.W. Anderson’s SS16 menswear show. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

Audio recordings of designers and photographers discussing their memories and perception of youth are included in the exhibition. Films, editorials and defining looks from past designer collections will capture the irreverent freedom and possibility that the teenage male possesses, presenting the relationship between fashion and youth as an ever-evolving narrative.

An events programme of talks, workshops and masterclasses that will be announced in early January will accompany the exhibition.

Raf Simons SS16 (Photo courtesy of Raf Simons)

Raf Simons SS16 (Photo courtesy of Raf Simons)

Mad About The Boy will run from 8 January to 2 April 2016 at Fashion Space Gallery, London College of Fashion, 20 John Prince’s Street, London, W1G 0BJ

Entrance is free.

www.fashionspacegallery.com

 

By Mikael Jack