Christopher Shannon SS 2016 Image courtesy of Christopher Shannon

Christopher Shannon SS 2016 Image courtesy of Christopher Shannon

Mad About The Boy is a group exhibition curated by Lou Stoppard, the fashion Commentator and editor of SHOWstudio. Exploring fashion’s eternal obsession with youth, it focuses on the way the myth of the teenage boy are constructed through definitive collections and fashion images. Inspired by those designers who have always been drawn to youth culture, Mad About The Boy will examine the motifs and parallels within fashion’s treatment of that precious period of youth. A time that seems infinite when you’re in it but is actually very brief.

Meadham Kirchhoff Fashion Show in London, Menswear collections spring summer 2013

Meadham Kirchhoff Fashion Show in London, Menswear collections spring summer 2013

The exhibition brings together the work of a variety of designers and image-makers, including: Raf Simons, J W Anderson, Nick Knight, Larry Clark, Jason Evans, Kim Jones, Meadham Kirchhoff, Tyrone Lebon, Nasir Mazhar, Martine Rose, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Christopher Shannon, Judy Blame and more.

Nasir Mazhar SS 2015, Image courtesy of Nasir Mazhar

Nasir Mazhar SS 2015, Image courtesy of Nasir Mazhar

Mad About The Boy will unravel the many ideals and notions of the young male that feature in fashion’s imagination. This promises to be made especially vivid by a series of striking settings designed by Tony Hornecker: from a school toilet defaced with graffiti and flyers, to the recreation of the Meadham Kirchhoff SS 2013 Menswear presentation. By immersing yourself in these environments you’ll be able to imagine yourself in the different identities of a teenage boy.

Raf Simons SS 2016 Image courtesy of Raf Simons

Raf Simons SS 2016 Image courtesy of Raf Simons

Audio recordings of designers and photographers discussing their memories and perception of youth are included alongside editorials, films and select looks from seminal collections. Mad About The Boy will capture a period of creative and irreverent freedom that the teenage boy embodies – presenting the relationship between fashion and youth as an ever-evolving narrative.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an events programme of talks, workshops and masterclasses which will be announced in early January 2016. We caught up with Lou Stoppard to find out more about Mad About The Boy.

What drew you to this particular theme and how was the experience of curating for you?

I wanted to do a menswear exhibition – it’s a really exciting time for menswear what with LC:M and the success of some really high profile designers who started their career in menswear; J W Anderson, Hedi Slimane, Raf Simons. I’ve also always been interested in the fetishisation of youth culture – it’s something I explored not long ago for a SHOWstudio series called Girly and in some ways this exhibition is an extension of some of the ideas in that. I’ve found curating it really interesting and a huge learning curve – I think the objects and images really speak for themselves and can’t help but spark discussion.

A very diverse group of contributors, not least age wise. How did you decide on the selection criteria and what were they?

It wasn’t so much a criteria – I more wanted to bring together those who had set the pace in terms of how young males are portrayed and considered within fashion (people like Raf Simons, Nick Knight, Larry Clark and Walter van Beirendonck) with new voices who are championing youth culture – Nasir Mazhar, Martine Rose, Tyrone Lebon etc. I think the diversity is what ties the show together.

What can the spectator expect to see and what are you hoping to achieve with this exhibition?

There will obviously be great fashion but I hope the viewer feels inclined to ask questions and consider the topic from their own perspective.

As this is very much about youth as an inspiration, did you notice a difference in the contributions from say Nick Knight or Judy Blame compared to somewhat younger designers such as Martine Rose or Gosha Rubchinskiy?

The show is about drawing comparisons between the way youth is treated in fashion by designers young and old. It focuses on those cycles and tropes that reappear again and again.

If fashion’s inspired by young boys – to the point where fashion designers are often accused of “wanting all women to look like young boys” – how come young girls rarely get the same interest? Is the teen-age girl simply not that interesting in fashion terms? Or are we back to the tired trope of “all fashion designers are gay so of course all they care about is young boys”?

I think teenage girls get just as much interest.

Tony Hornecker is a fantastic set designer; I would love to have been a fly on the wall when the two of you were kicking ideas about! Did you have him in mind from the start? Tell me how he became involved?

It’s really apt that Tony is involved. He did all the amazing sets for those old Meadham Kirchhoff shows and part of this display features a restaging of their S/S 2013 menswear presentation. It’s a real pleasure working with him.

Mad About The Boy | curated by Lou Stoppard
Set design is by Tony Hornecker
Friday 8 January – Saturday 2 April 2016
Fashion Space Gallery
London College of Fashion
20 John Prince’s Street,
London W1G 0BJ

FREE

Words by Anna Bang

Tags

anna bang, Christopher Shannon, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Hedi Slimane, J.W. Anderson, Jason Evans, Judy Blame, Kim Jones, Larry Clark, Lou Stoppard, Mad About The Boy, Martine Rose, Meadham Kirchhoff, nasir mazhar, Nick Knight, Raf Simons, Tony Hornecker, Tyrone LeBon,