No matter how many times I visit, the V&A always has a new exhibition or installation to tickle my fancy. Last March there were three...stunning examples from Faberge, at which no photos were allowed; Beatrix Potter, always a favorite; and Fashioning Masculinity, exploring creativity in men's fashions.
The exhibition turned out to be fascinating and fun. As the Tatler magazine wrote, "This exhibition is an active investigation into the way men dress and the very idea of masculinity itself." Below, left, Apollo Belvedere, a cast of the ancient Greek statue in the first section, Undressed; on the right, beginning the clothing for a man of the 18th century.
Above left, in the second section, Overdressed, see some of the favorite adornments in the 17th century such as lacey collars; right, Laceing a Dandy, a popular and anonymous caricature of an overdressed fellow achieving his wasp waist, 1819. Below, left, portrait of Richard Milles by Pompeo Batoni in the 1760's; Right, Elegant satin garb from the 17th to the 21st centuries.
Above left, Hessian boots, breeches, and black coat as worn by a Regency blade; right, W. Graham Robertson in a grey overcoat by John Singer Sargent, who portrayed the artist Robertson as a London dandy, 1894; Below Left, Fuchsia-lined cloak and flower-embellished suit for Billy Porter by Designer Randy Rahm, making a political statement at the 2019 Golden Globes; right, Billy Porter on the Oscars red carpet in 2019 wearing a Christian Siriano tuxedo gown. These contemporary examples mirror the exhibition's goal of investigating gender roles and fluidity in the third section, Redressed..
Above, left; Gown worn by drag-queen Bimini on Ru Paul's Drag Race; right, Portrait of Charles Coote, 1st Earl of Bellamont,1773-74, by Sir Joshua Reynolds in the section Overdressed. Below, luncheon in the Member's Room.
Above, could there be a more startling contrast to the men's fashions than Ms. Potter's adorable drawings? On the right, my all time favorite, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle. Below left, from The Tale of Benjamin Bunny; right, from The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck.
Too much temptation in the V&A's gift shops. Good thing I didn't have a smidgen of space in my luggage. As we returned to Notting Hill, we gave a wave to Royal Albert Hall. Saving that for next time??
Victoria Hinshaw, Author