Van Dyck to Bacon to Today: A Fashion History of Cavaliers, Mad Men, and Cross Dressers

Looking Closely Vol. 6
2020

Men’s apparel is often thought of as staid and restrained, especially when compared to women’s fashions. Yet Old Master and Modern portraits tell a different story, presenting centuries of male sitters who have taken great care with what they wear and how they wear it. Until the late eighteenth century, men flaunted their style and social position with costumes fashioned from lavish textiles, often surpassing the opulence of their female counterparts. Later, though men generally adopted more sober suiting, exquisite tailoring and sophisticated accessories became hallmarks of a new and refined brand of expensive elegance. Today, the attire of the fashion-conscious man challenges and redefines traditional concepts and emblems of masculinity. The portraits presented here celebrate
menswear, an inexhaustible source of beauty and innovation.

 

Listen to our new (short!) podcast featuring Virginia Brilliant discussing men’s fashion through the ages here.

 

Read  Robilant+Voena’s stylish 2018 exhibition publication The Elegant Man here.

 

Visit a recent exhibition at LACMA exploring menswear from the eighteenth through the twenty-first centuries here.

 

Learn about remarkable portraits of elegant men currently available at Robilant+Voena here.

 

View PDF here.