As the U.K. set out to be one of the first nations to drop all social distancing rules, cultural institutions are gearing up to put on major exhibitions that have been finely prepared during the COIVD-19 pandemic for London’s in-person experience hungry crowd.
Here WWD compiles a list of exciting fashion and art exhibitions set to be opened during the first half of 2022.
Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear
Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL, March 19 to Nov. 6
As the institution’s first major menswear exhibition, it will present around 100 looks and 100 artworks from the Renaissance to the modern-day. Contemporary looks from fashion designers like Harris Reed, Craig Green, Grace Wales Bonner and Raf Simons will be displayed alongside historical items from the V&A’s collections, such as paintings by Sofonisba Anguissola and Joshua Reynolds, contemporary artworks by Robert Longo and Omar Victor Diop, and an extract from the all-male ballet performance “Spitfire” by Matthew Bourne.
Key looks worn by fashion icons will also be interspersed throughout, from Harry Styles, Billy Porter and Sam Smith, to David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich, highlighting the multiplicities of masculine sartorial self-expression, dressing beyond the binary.
The show will open with a Craig Green spring 2021 ensemble and it is followed by three main galleries with the themes of Undressed, Overdressed and Redressed.
Undressed will explore the male body and underwear in a utopian dreamscape. This part will look at how classical European ideals of masculinity have been perpetuated and challenged over the centuries. Examples of traditional idealized male bodies such as plaster casts of the Apollo Belvedere and the Farnese Hermes will sit alongside contemporary representations of the body from David Hockney, Lionel Wendt, Zanele Muholi and Isaac Julien through to a Calvin Klein advertisement.
This part will also feature garments by Jean Paul Gaultier and A-Cold-Wall’s Samuel Ross to show how fashion is changing masculine ideals and celebrating body diversity, as well as Auguste Rodin’s Age of Bronze sculpture, and “Tiresias,” a performance by Cassils.
The Overdressed section will explore the elite masculine wardrobe. It will feature armored breastplates, smoking suits, sweeping capes, ribbons and lace. This part will also include grooming, with makeup and shaving equipment.
Aristocratic portraits by Joshua Reynolds and Jean-Baptiste Perronneau will be displayed alongside pink ensembles by Harris Reed and Grace Wales Bonner, as well as modern fashions from Kim Jones for Fendi, Alessandro Michele for Gucci, Rahemur Rahman, Ahluwalia and Orange Culture. A custom-made Randi Rahm look — a suit and full-length embroidered cloak with a hot pink lining — worn by Billy Porter at the Golden Globes in 2019 will also be showcased.
The last part of the exhibition, Redressed, will highlight the evolution of suits, from Regency-era England’s fashion opinion leader Beau Brummell to the contemporary runway. It will depict the origins of the suit with historic garments from the V&A collection shown alongside contemporary reimaginings, including a kilt by Nicholas Daley.
This part will also touch base on British subcultures that looked to define their styles through tailoring such as the Mods and Teddy Boys, as well as men’s interest in leather and frock coats with examples by Tom Ford, Donatella Versace, Prada, Alexander McQueen and Raf Simons.
The final part of the section will explore the dissolving of the concept of a suit, with evidence from designers like Rick Owens, Jonathan Anderson, Comme des Garçons and Lesiba Mabitsela, showing how they are deconstructing the idea of menswear and masculinity.
Dave Benett: Great Shot, Kid
JD Malat Gallery, 30 Davies Street, London W1K 4NB, Feb. 17 to March 8
The exhibition, co-curated by Dylon Jones, will highlight some of Benett’s best and never-seen works from his four-decade-long career in covering London’s party scene.
Arguably the most important photographer at any VIP event in London, Benett has earned the trust of some of the most exclusive personalities over the years. He shoots royal members up close and has captured some of the most iconic moments in pop culture history, like Prince Charles hanging out with Prince and Donatella Versace, Princess Diana having a good time with Liza Minnelli and Liz Hurley in the Versace safety pin dress on the arm of Hugh Grant.
It is the first time that Benett’s work will be on display for all to view. The exhibition will offer an insight into his entire career as well as exclusive footage of historical and pop-cultural events.
Surrealism Beyond Borders
Tate Modern, Bankside London SE1 9TG, Feb. 24 to Aug. 29
The exhibition aims to showcase the broad scope of the Surrealism movement, moving beyond the confines of a single time or place. More than 150 works will be included spanning more than 80 years and 50 countries, ranging from painting and photography to sculpture and film, many of which have never been shown in the U.K.
Among the rarely seen works are photographs by Cecilia Porras and Enrique Grau, which defied the conservative social conventions of 1950s Colombia, as well as paintings by exiled Spanish artist Eugenio Granell, whose radical political commitments made him a target for censorship and persecution.
The show also includes iconic paintings such as Max Ernst’s “Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale, alongside lesser-known but significant works like Antonio Berni’s “Landru in the Hotel,” and Toshiko Okanoue’s “Yobi-goe (The Call)” addressing the daily experience of post-war Japan.
Whistler’s Woman in White: Joanna Hiffernan
Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD, Feb. 26 to May 22
The exhibition looks at James McNeill Whistler’s muse Joanna Hiffernan. Little about her role or influence has been explored, and this is the first major show that explores her close professional and personal relationship with the artist lasted for two decades and discovers how Whistler’s revolutionary paintings featuring Hiffernan went on to influence later artists from the pre-Raphaelites to Klimt.
Consisting of more than 70 works, the exhibition will bring together nearly all of Whistler’s depictions of Hiffernan, and will include paintings, prints, drawings and related artworks and ephemera.
A Fine Line in Fashion: The Art of Gladys Perint Palmer
Gray M.C.A. Gallery, Cromwell Place, London SW7 2JE, Feb. 15 to 20
The exhibition brings together more than 30 original fashion illustrations by British fashion illustrator, journalist and author Gladys Perint Palmer. Over the last four decades, she has contributed to publications including Vogue, The New York Times, L’Officiel, Grazia, Harper’s Bazaar, The Sunday Times and San Francisco Examiner with her electric illustrations.
The exhibition highlights the fine line of a fashion illustrator who not only understands fashion but also the models who have walked the runways for fashion houses like Dior, Burberry, Balenciaga, Christian Lacroix, Philip Treacy, Oscar de la Renta, Alexander McQueen and Karl Lagerfeld.
Bethany Williams: Alternative Systems
Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street, London W8 6AG, from Feb. 22
While Bethany Williams has decided to step away from her brand due to health issues, the brand will unveil the new collection and display Alternative Systems on the last day of the upcoming London Fashion Week.
The display, featuring pieces from collaborations with community projects and items composed from recycled materials, will continue to be a part of the museum’s free exhibition after the show for the public to enjoy.