Young guns

Mad About The Boy: the new exhibition spotlighting fashion’s enduring obsession with youth
By Alex James Taylor | Fashion | 5 January 2016

Photography from YOUTH HOTEL, by Gosha Rubchinskiy

Top image: Photography from YOUTH HOTEL, by Gosha Rubchinskiy

Coinciding with LC:M FW16, Fashion Space Gallery are hosting Mad About The Boy, an exhibition exploring fashion’s obsession with youth culture and the way teenage characteristics are constructed and examined through fashion’s gaze.

Curated by SHOWstudio Editor Lou Stoppard, the exhibition will bring together work by creatives – such as Raf Simons, J W Anderson, Larry Clark, Kim Jones, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Judy Blame and Meadham Kirchoff, amongst others – who have long looked towards youth culture for inspiration for their acclaimed output.

So what makes youth culture such a rich source of inspiration? Perhaps it’s the sense of nostalgia behind it, a yearning for a time of effervescent freedom and a curiosity towards the next generation, or maybe it’s the innate freedom and self-discovery, for it’s within this transitional period where we develop a greater understanding of ourselves.

Meadham Kirchhoff Fashion Show in London, Menswear collections spring summer 2013

Alex James Taylor: What do you hope to portray through Mad about the boy?
Lou Stoppard: I hope more that it provokes discussion and, given that the Fashion Space Gallery is located within a university, gets young people thinking about the way youth is portrayed and even commodified. In general, the exhibition explores the way the young male is portrayed and constructed within fashion images and collections – it’s not an exhibition about teenagers themselves or how they act, dress or communicate, it’s about fashion’s idea of youth.

AJT: What do you think it is about youth that proves a constant source of inspiration in fashion?
LS:I think youth is fleeting – and that’s seductive to an industry that loves change. There’s also an intangible quality to it, which is part of the appeal. I also think many designers are nostalgic for the perceived freedom of their own youth – they reconstruct things they experienced, or even wanted to experience, making characters they wish they could have been.

AJT: In what ways do you believe that the current generation is affecting the fashion world?
LS: I think, and this isn’t something we’ve looked at too much in the show, as it’s more about aesthetic portrayals, but the biggest affect is communication. They way young people interact super-fast across multiple platforms and social media is affecting the way brands talk to consumers and present themselves – those that do it well and authentically rise, those who don’t struggle.

AJT: What are a few of your favourite pieces in the exhibition?
LS: There are so many. It’s a real pleasure to show archive photography from Jason Evans and Nick Knight – it’s always good to dig far back! But then I’m equally as thrilled to show newer work by people like Alasdair McLellan and Brett Lloyd. I’m obviously very happy to be working the amazing Tony Hornecker on the set for the show – he did the brilliant sets for Meadham Kirchhoff’s shows, and we’re restaging a bit of their SS13 show (another highlight for me – I’m thrilled Ben Kirchhoff has been so accommodating), so Tony’s input feels very apt.

Another real privilege is showing Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore by Mark Leckey, it’s something I’m mesmerised with, especially after seeing Raf Simons’ SS16 show, which was a tribute to it. We’re showing it next to a look from that collection, which is brilliant. I’m also obviously thrilled to have fashion by other great designers like Kim Jones and Gosha featured. Everyone’s been so generous – it’s hard to choose!

Photograph by Jason Evans, Untitled, (at ‘Anokha’ at The Blue Note, London), 1996

Mad About The Boy is free and opens at the Fashion Space Gallery at London College of Fashion 8th January – 2nd April.


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