In case you didn’t get the memo, George is all about MAN STYLE. So when we heard that the National Gallery of Victoria was curating an exhibition on that very subject, we were there quick as a dog can lick a dish. 

The show is the first in Australia to explore men’s fashion, spotlighting the extremes of masculine style and the most influential ideas in menswear over the past three centuries. From the intricately embroidered silk coats of the late 1700s to Hedi Slimane’s haunting, sharp Dior Homme Cape Jacket of 2005, “Man Style” touched on defining looks from every era.

While there were only 80 pieces in total – predominantly suits – the exhibition was thorough in its description of their impact. “Changes in proportion, shape and detail as well as material, color and pattern” reflected the times, and who can forget the seismic shift in men’s fashion with the acceptance of sportswear and street clothes? While George is all about self-expression, we can’t say we’re unhappy about the pendulum swinging back toward refined the past few years. Call us a dandy if you must, but by god untucked shirt tails and baggy pants were the worst!

We digress. Some key pieces in the show according to George: 

* The Tagney & Randall London Tailors’ 1935 Black Tailcoat, an impeccably tailored silk jacket. 

* A Pierre Cardin 1966 Jersey Suit, complete with exposed heavy zipper fastenings, was instantly recognizable as a 1960s silhouette. 

* Rei Kawakubo's extreme fluorescent printed velvet suit from autumn/winter 2000 heralded an age of audacity and bling in fashion, to some extent. Ms. Kawakubo is so ahead of her time, it can be difficult to metabolize her affect until decades after it seems!

* Of course, there had to be some Thom Browne. “Man Style” highlighted spring/summer suits and shorts from his pivotal 2008 collection: a slim trouser made in Australian wool – referencing the traditions of English tailoring but lined in seersucker, an American sportswear staple. Few designers have had the impact of Mr. Browne the past couple decades, his lean cut and cropped pant influencing men’s fashion around the world and winning the enthusiastic approval of Vogue editrix Anna Wintour.

* Bringing us to present day is Rick Owens. The king of gothic cool goes about his business in Paris while the rest of the world watches his every move. The exhibition displayed an Owens’ leather jacket with heavy metal exposed zippers evoking modern armor and the current draping trends in progressive unisex fashion. Hey, just because this dog likes a classic look doesn’t mean we don’t know what’s what! 

Also acknowledged were the design contributions of Morrissey Edmiston, Jean Paul Gaultier, Nom*D, Tommy Nutter, Stuart Membery, Perks and Mini (PAM), Romance Was Born, Walter Van Beirendonck, Vivienne Westwood, Bernhard Wilhelm and WORLD. And one more thing: overlooking the mannequins on the wall surrounding the outfits were a collection of muted oil painting portraits of dapper gentleman through the ages. Maybe they should get together with the ladies of Nude? Just a thought, wink.



11 April 2011
National Gallery of Victoria: The Ian Potter Centre
Federation Square Melbourne VIC 3000 AUS 038 620 2222
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