Pin It
Meadham Kirchhoff SS 2013, Image courtesy of NOWFA
Meadham Kirchhoff SS13Courtesy of Fashion Space Gallery

The exhibition exploring fashion’s obsession with youth

Curated by Lou Stoppard, Mad About The Boy will bring together work from Raf Simons, Larry Clark, Meadham Kirchhoff and Gosha Rubchinskiy

Fashion’s obsession with the idea of the teenage boy runs deep. While this idea manifests itself in many different ways – from rebel to raver – it filters into countless collections and fashion images. This is the subject of a new exhibition – aptly titled Mad About The Boy – coming to the Fashion Space Gallery at the London College of Fashion. Curated by SHOWstudio’s editor Lou Stoppard, the exhibition will bring together work from some of this generation’s most feted creative talents: Raf Simons, Larry Clark, Meadham Kirchhoff, Gosha Rubchinskiy, J.W.Anderson, Larry Clark, Kim Jones, Tyrone Lebon and Nasir Mazhar.

“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,” Stoppard explains. “Designers young and old return to the same themes, constructing, rehashing and shaping the dream male, season in season out.” Opening in January 2016, Mad About The Boy will come in conjunction with a series of talks, workshops and masterclasses. Here Stoppard explains more about the project:

Can you give us a brief outline of this exhibition?

Lou Stoppard: The exhibition deals with fashion’s interest in and portrayal of the teenage boy. It’s not so much about how teenagers themselves dress, more about how fashion constructs ideals of the young male. We’re not organising the work by designer or artist, but by theme – the notions and tropes that come up again and again: the boy as outsider, the boy as sexual being, the boy in the club, the boy in education. There will be a whole mixture of stuff featured – clothing, photography, ephemera. I’m not really looking to answer questions with the show, more provoke discussion and get young people to consider how youth is portrayed and obsessed over.

What sparked the idea?

Lou Stoppard: Lots of things. The fetishisation of youth is always something that has interested me... Some recent interviews I’ve done on SHOWstudio where I realised how nostalgic many creatives are for their youth – they see it, no matter what they've subsequently achieved, as this precious time of creative freedom and possibility. I wondered if that view somehow affected the way they went on to portray youth and young males in their own work. I also think you can’t ignore what's going on in fashion news. Some of the most discussed designers at the moment, Raf Simons, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Hedi Slimane are all youth obsessives.

“Some of the most discussed designers at the moment, Raf Simons, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Hedi Slimane are all youth obsessives” – Lou Stoppard

What are your highlights of it?

Lou Stoppard: All the work is brilliant. I think it’s the mix that makes it special, to have early Kim Jones work next to recent Christopher Shannon or Raf Simons. Or original Nick Knight Skinhead prints next to new work by Tyrone Lebon or Jason Evans. I’m thrilled also to be able to restage a bit of a Meadham Kirchhoff presentation, SS13. It was such a special collection and display and I think so many people miss the label and their amazing work, so it’s great even more people will be able to see it and that their legacy will be celebrated.

Obviously there's some amazing contributors, who's involvement are you most excited about and why?

Lou Stoppard: It’s such a pleasure to collaborate with Tony Hornecker on the set. He did the amazing sets for all those great Meadham Kirchhoff shows so it’s really fitting. The way he’s staging the objects is so exciting – I hope it will surprise people and offer something new in terms of what people expect from a fashion exhibition.

Why do you think fashion is so obsessed with youth culture?

Lou Stoppard: I guess that’s what I’m trying to explore with the show – I wish I had the answer. I do think it has something to do with designers or image-makers reliving or revisiting their own adolescences – they’ll often use their platform to create things that always wanted to be a part of. That’s why so many pay homage to their favourite musicians or what-have-you. The spector of creatives’ youths is never far from their work!

Why should people come to this?

Lou Stoppard: I hope because it poses questions. It’s not a show dedicated to one designer or one medium, so in some ways it’s a bit strange and tricky. But I hope because of that people will impose a lot of their own thoughts and narratives onto things and start asking questions. I think the objects and images really speak for themselves and can’t help but spark conversation.

Mad About The Boy will run January 8– April 2, 2016 at Fashion Space Gallery, London College of Fashion, 20 John Prince’s Street, London, W1G 0BJ