Breaking Men’s Wear Barriers — in 2026



Slide Show

Exhibit: 2026

CreditKristin Lee-Moolman


LONDON — The young black man stands defiantly on the grass in front of the tin-roof bungalow, separated from the house via a pastel-colored fence and a dusty sidewalk that cracked long ago under the searing African heat.

Staring straight into the camera, he proudly sports black leather brogues, knee-high green school socks, tight white polo pants — and a billowing peach silk robe, covered in flowers and slashed to the navel. Plus a glittering pink belt and cocked pirate hat. Gardeners’ gloves encase his hands, while endless loops of heavy gold chains hang from his neck.

This is one of 60 images in a new exhibition called “2026,” a small but powerful show at Somerset House in London through Aug. 29 focusing on how masculinity is defined through dress, and how that may change in the next 10 years.

The project is jointly curated by the London-based stylist Ibrahim Kamara and the Johannesburg photographer Kristin-Lee Moolman. It is part of a larger group of displays and performances, “Utopian Voices Here and Now,” showcasing explorations by young British-based artists around the issues most affecting them, like the body and gender, sexuality and race.

The “2026” installation focuses on presenting an idealized vision of black masculinity 10 years into the future, by challenging current heteronormative attitudes to self-expression through fashion (although these are increasingly dissolving, if current catwalk trends are anything to go by).

Mr. Kamara, 26, a soon-to-be Central Saint Martins graduate who was born and raised in Sierra Leone, created the project as part of his degree in fashion communications and promotion after a monthlong residency in Johannesburg alongside Ms. Moolman, 29, whom he met on the internet.

The duo scoured the city’s Dumpsters and thrift shops for fabrics, which they then reworked into contemporary garments, with a view to shaping self-expression for the black male body.

“I wanted to create a utopia where you can be whatever you want to be, without emphasis on masculinity or sexuality,” Mr. Kamara said last week, as he put the finishing touches to the large-scale photographic prints of young African men in dresses now hanging from the walls of Somerset House, one of Britain’s grandest palaces. “I wanted men, in particular black men, to just be able to be and breathe like every other type of man has been able to breathe for centuries, without the pressure and policing of black masculinity lingering over them.”

So one photograph depicts a young man in an embrace, wearing a white ball gown, socks and city brogues, a cowboy hat, jewels and both evening and boxing gloves.

Another look evokes a 16th century swashbuckling pirate-meets-Soweto-schoolboy, teaming a rich padded ocher velveteen jacket and frilled white gloves with a David Beckham soccer shirt wrapped like a sarong and yellow soccer socks.

And in another, two men stand side by side in sleeveless gold buttoned navy blazers and multiple layered pairs of super low-slung, belted baggy jeans, sporting black hats and blond side curls like those worn by Orthodox Jewish men.

Photo

Lebohang Otukile, left.

Credit
Kristin Lee-Moolman

“‘2026’ is an escapism, it’s all the things I long to be, it’s the black man I aspire to be: expressive, confident, not holding back, regardless of sexual orientation, gender or race,” Mr. Kamara said. “Kristen and I wanted to present images that are uplifting and positive, as the image of black sexuality is consistently being ripped apart.”

By using Johannesburg’s back streets as sets and locals as their models, the project also highlighted the energy and creativity of the young arts scene in that city, which Mr. Kamara and Ms. Moolman believe is consistently overlooked by the media, or distorted by the stereotypes anchored in poverty and violence that have come to define South Africa internationally.

“It has become my personal mission to change the way people perceive Africa and especially Johannesburg,” Ms. Moolman said. “There is an explosion of talent here right now. Everyone is creating, whether it is clothing, art, music or imagery.” She added that the digital era meant that the city’s creatives had become far more aware of the work of their contemporaries in cities like London, Berlin and New York.

“What is amazing here now is the originality and energy with which young people have absorbed those influences, and then have created their own scene in an authentic and African way,” she said. “‘2026’ and everything around it, including its inception, is rooted in cross-cultural mutual exchange. We portrayed Johannesburg how it should be, not what it is. But we also wanted to remind people of the alternative, progressive and open-minded South Africa that both exists and is booming, beyond the images that are fed to them on the TV.”

Most of the men photographed by Ms. Moolman are either her friends or followers on Instagram. Despite the flamboyancy and gender stereotypes challenged through the outfits they wore, very few of them are gay, and they usually subscribe to heteronormative codes of dress. One is the owner of a security company. Another is an artist. Others are dancers.

“These are young and passionate men willing to challenge conventional codes of dress, who weren’t about to let their clothing influence their sexuality or vice versa,” she said. “In fact, most of the guys said that rather than confusing them, the clothes had made them feel more empowered.”

Continue reading the main story



Source link

About admin

Check Also

Sag Harbor’s Historic Cinema Saved

The fire threatened the identity of an important segment of the village, said Robert Stein, ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *