|Title||Invisible Men: An Anthology from the Westminster Menswear Archive|
Fashion today is doing something that has never been done before: it is going for information and inspiration to the street and to the sports field. Perhaps it is the workman in his boiler suit, the garage mechanic, the welder on the building site, or the footballer who can provide the ‘look’ for our present-day needs.
Invisible Men displays over 180 garments exclusively drawn from the Westminster Menswear Archive. It covers the last 120 years of mostly British menswear organised into twelve thematic sections. It explores the design language of menswear by presenting designer garments alongside military, functional and utilitarian outfits.
The replication of archetypal functional garments intended for specific industrial, technical or military use dominates menswear design. The exhibition illustrates how designers have disrupted these conventions through minimal, yet significant modifications to produce outcomes that both replicate and subvert their source material. The endless replication, appropriation and interpretation has meant that the original meaning and function has faded through each reiteration.
Through this approach, the language of menswear has developed an almost fetishistic appreciation of the working man in all his heroic iterations. Designs constantly reference the clothing of seafarers, soldiers, athletes, firefighters, road workers, and explorers.
This design strategy has largely allowed men and what they wear to avoid scrutiny. These garments have remained largely invisible within fashion exhibitions in favour of presenting menswear primarily as the story of the dandy or the peacock male.
This exhibition aims to shine a light on these invisible men.