I recently had the pleasure of attending Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear, celebrating the power, artistry and diversity of masculine attire and appearance, at The Victoria and Albert in London. The exhibition explores how designers, tailors, and artists have constructed and deconstructed masculinity. The expansion of what is seen, felt, and being redefined around the dressing of masculine identities is a point of significant controversy in 2022. Gucci has sponsored the exhibition and a quote from their artistic director, Alessandro Michele, is highlighted at the entrance “In a patriarchal society, masculine gender-identity is often molded by violently toxic stereotypes… it’s time to celebrate a man who is free to practice self-determination, without social constraints, without authoritarian sanctions, without suffocating stereotypes.”
A prominent piece of the exhibition focused on the color pink. Over my lifetime, I have had the privilege of developing my own personal style, recognizing that it represents a curation of themes and trends. Pink is a signature element of that style. To me, it represents individuality and pride, key components of my brand. For hundreds of years, pink was an exclusive color; any textile having shades of pink was considered expensive and sought. Thus, making it difficult to secure. The more pink you wore, the more money and power you had, this idea translated into men’s wear. Whether the lining of a suit, or a specific pattern, pink would have been the ultimate bespoke luxury.
This is The Victoria & Albert’s first and, the museum suggests, perhaps the last menswear exhibition, and only because the separation of men’s and women’s wear seems distinctly outmoded in a world of jeans, athleisure, and blended cultures.