Reigning Men

This past weekend marked the closing of the Saint Louis Art Museum’s summer exhibition, Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear. As fun as its punny title would suggest, Reigning Men encompassed the main goal of refocusing the frequently feminine lens of fashion to instead showcase the lesser-celebrated history of men’s fashion from the eighteenth century to the present. Housed in the museum’s main exhibition gallery, the exhibit featured 150 mannequins dressed to the nines—from the late eighteenth-century pantaloons of French Incroyables to American zoot suits of the 1940’s—and did a wonderful job of subtly interlacing the old with the new. One could never quite know for sure if that mannequin was wearing something very old or just something very new and very avant-garde. Outfits included fashion from all over the world—France, England, India and Japan, to name a few—and included iconic looks such as the typical high school jock’s varsity jacket and canvas sneakers. One criticism for the exhibit is perhaps the fact that it focused mostly on the fashion choices of white men. There were several outfits from non-western countries, but the vast majority were extremely eurocentric. Perhaps this only serves as a reflection of the society we already know to be true; however, despite the arguing points of its eurocentric nature, the exhibit was extremely fascinating and it was amazing to witness how well-preserved the 200-year-old articles of clothing were. Though the exhibit is now on its way back to its original home in Los Angeles, its artfulness is bound to be well-remembered here in St. Louis.