Reigning Men Volume 39.1

SILK COAT with silk embroidery, France, circa 1800. ZOOT SUIT of wool and twill, with spectator shoes of leather and suede, United States, 1940-42. Photographs courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, © Museum Associates/LACMA.

For much of human history, it has been a man’s world—except in the museum world, where menswear is often overlooked in favor of the more colorful, ornamental fashions worn by women. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s new exhibition “Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015” serves as a powerful corrective to the long-held notion that menswear is boring and drab. “Everyone thinks the gray flannel suit still exists!” says curator Kaye Spilker. “It was a wonderful journey to find out how interesting menswear really is.”

      The show covers three hundred years of male style, from the macaroni to the metrosexual. Despite the subtitle, it is not limited to fashionable dress; there are some utilitarian pieces, including a redcoat’s red coat, a Brooks Brothers blazer, blue jeans, and, yes, a couple of gray flannel suits. But they are juxtaposed against examples of cutting-edge fashion, both historical and contemporary. 

 

HELMUT LANG VEST of leather, synthetic/cotton felt, bottle caps, laminated foil, from Spring/Summer 2004.
JOHNSON HARTIG FOR LIBERTINE ENSEMBLE (detail) of silk twill jacket, silk vest, cotton shirt, silk twill, satin, and damask scarf, Fall/Winter 2009-10.
JOHNSON HARTIG FOR LIBERTINE ENSEMBLE (detail) of wool twill and felt, mother of pearl buttons, with wool cap, Fall/Winter 2012-13.

 

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Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell is an art historian specializing in fashion and textiles, anda frequent contributor to Ornament. She has worked as a curator, consultant and educator for museums and universities around the world. In this issue, she goes behind the scenes of LACMA’s groundbreaking menswear show, “Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015.” Chrisman-Campbell is the author of Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, published by Yale University Press.

African Textiles at LACMA Volume 38.3 Preview

African Textiles and Adornment
Selections from the Marcel and Zaira Mis Collection

BAMUM ROBE from Grasslands, Cameroon, 1925-1950.  Collection of Marcel and Zaira Mis.   Photograph by Mauro Magliani, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

BAMUM ROBE from Grasslands, Cameroon, 1925-1950. Collection of Marcel and Zaira Mis. Photograph by Mauro Magliani, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has been actively building its collection of African art in recent years, with a new, dedicated gallery and some splashy acquisitions, both ancient and contemporary. But LACMA’s African costume and textile collection remains weak for an encyclopedic museum. Its exhibition “African Textiles and Adornment: Selections from the Marcel and Zaira Mis Collection” was an important step towards righting the balance. The thirty-five objects—all from a single private collection—spanned the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and they were drawn from all over the African continent, with a high concentration of material from central Africa.

 

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Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell is a fashion historian specializing in fashion and textiles, and a frequent contributor to Ornament. She has worked as a curator, consultant and educator for museums and universities around the world. Chrisman-Campbell is the author of Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette published by Yale University Press this year. In this issue she reviews the lush and exuberant textiles of Africa from a recent exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.