Four years ago, London Collections Men had a poignant, Holden Caulfield moment when the now-defunct Meadham Kirchoff held its spring/summer 2013 presentation at the Carlton Gardens. Androgynous models in pyjama bottoms and saris sat amidst pizza box props and discarded Disney-print duvets, in the label's ode to growing pains and the bittersweet angst of adolescence.
Tony Hornecker, the original set designer for the SS13 presentation, recreated this set for a new exhibition, “Mad About the Boy,” which opened today at the Fashion Space Gallery, inside the London College of Fashion. Coinciding with LC:M this season, the show explores the links between high fashion and youth – in particular, fashion’s obsession and fetishisation of the teenage boy.
“The fluidity and possibility of the teenage years seems to unite fashion’s obsession with the boy: sparked, perhaps by a strange belief in the precious genius of youth – of a time of perceived infinite opportunity, spontaneity and creative freedom,” says Lou Stoppard, the show’s curator.
Here, moving images of youth by the likes of Nick Knight and Alasdair McLellan, hang next to vintage TV sets showing clips from films including Larry Clark’s infamous “Kids.” J. W. Anderson’s ruffle bloomers and Raf Simons’ graffiti-ridden white coat stand next to a bathroom sink display, covered in day-glo. The installations, clothes, photos and films are categorised into distinct sections examining various themes of the young male experience – as sexual object, outsider and the boy in the club, amongst others.
In a quiet corner of the space, an image by American photographer Joseph Szabo is displayed, accompanied by a short, evocative text revealing the naiveté, anger and preciousness of youth. “Bring it down low, we have to jump, just close your eyes, it’s gonna hurt,” it reads. As such, this immersive exhibition is a compelling statement on fashion’s complicated romance with adolescence. Not one to be missed.
“Mad About the Boy” runs from 8th January to 2nd April at the Fashion Space Gallery, London College of Fashion. Entry is free.
Text by Jainnie Cho