Image: Detail of embroidered court suit, 1770-85. Courtesy of Manchester Art Gallery
Tom Ford once said, “British men are peacocks. You see a lot more style on the streets here than you see anywhere else, on every level.” Now, Manchester Art Gallery has opened its new Fashion Gallery with a major exhibition that celebrates 250 years of British men's style.
Image: John Saint Helier Lander, Edward, Prince of Wales. 1923. Courtesy of Manchester Art Gallery
The exhibition, Dandy Style, considers key themes in the development of male style, image, and identity. Drawing from Manchester Art Gallery’s outstanding menswear and portraiture collections, the exhibition compares and contrasts fashion, art, and photography, presenting fashion and fine art as equal participants. Melding the historic with the contemporary, the provocative, and the respectable, the displays feature a wide selection.
Dandy Style showcases approximately 75 outfits— and a similar number of portraits and photographs —of immaculate tailoring, sumptuous fabrics, ornate decoration, and subcultural styles in rarely-seen menswear. Turner Prize-winning international artist Lubaina Himid’s two life-size creative portraits, Dandy and Tailor introduce the two themed gallery spaces, exploring elegance, uniformity, and spectacle, from the 18th century to the present day.
Image: Dandy. Courtesy of Lubaina Himid. Photographer Michael Pollard
An early, three-piece, tartan suit from the 1820s is mirrored by a Vivienne Westwood tartan suit from the 1990s, and a contemporary photograph by Alice Mann of Eustache Seke wearing Westwood tartan. A lilac, woollen suit from the 1770s, worn by Thomas Carill Worsley of Manchester, is shown with a lilac ‘Space Age’ suit by Pierre Cardin. Thomas Gainsborough’s full-length portrait of Sir Edward Turner in a dramatically patterned suit is paired with a similar suit from the gallery's collection.
The roster of fashion-conscious men celebrated here includes Oscar Wilde, Bryan Ferry, Sebastian Horsley, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and JME. Designers include Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Ozwald Boateng, and Martine Rose. The exhibition runs until 1 May, 2023 and an accompanying book, Dandy Style (Yale University Press), is also available.
Image: Thomas Carill Worsley of Platt, 1765-70, (attributed to) John Astley, Courtesy of Manchester Art Gallery
This new, dedicated Fashion Gallery will promote a changing programme of innovative exhibitions, featuring the substantial international fashion collection held at Manchester Art Gallery. Located on the first floor, at the heart of the building, the space has newly installed, innovative display cases and fittings specifically designed to present costume, textiles, and accessories. The Fashion Gallery is supported by: The Clothworkers' Company, The Jack Livingston Foundation, Edward Bulmer Natural Paint, ARUP, and an Art Fund Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Grant. Initiated in 1823, Manchester Art Gallery is free and open to all people 'as a place of civic thinking and public imagination'. It promotes art as a means to achieve social change and considers itself 'an art school for everybody and for life'.