On The Town: Reigning Men Opening Party at LACMA

Posted on April 14, 2016, 9:20 am
5 mins

Photography by Tiffany Bri.

On April 6, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) held an opening party for their newest exhibition, Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715-2015. An extensive study of men’s fashionable dress, Reigning Men is curated into five thematic categories: Revolution/Evolution, East/West, Uniformity, Body Consciousness and The Splendid Man–read more about the exhibit itself in T.s. Flock’s review.

Given the museum’s status as a renowned leader in the arts world, LACMA’s party guests covered the gamut of arts insiders, from participating donors and curators to local artists, all of whom made the trek to LA from the world over to further cultivate their artistic expression. The concept of Reigning Men, unique in its marriage of art and fashion, drew an eclectic and intellectual crowd, fully immersed in the fashion and the visual arts industries alike. Guests were very much inclined to dress to the occasion–even more so than LA locals already dress to impress on a daily basis–and the party’s outdoor reception space was teeming with vibrant outfits, colorful and unique. Even more impressively, the press also brought their fashion game faces, making it difficult to distinguish between guests, press and LACMA staff. Everyone was dressed to the nines, and everyone was curious about everyone.

Telling people that VS was a Seattle publication induced immediate intrigue–I found myself answering just as many questions as I was asking, resulting in delightful conversation and playful banter with all the guests. We met two lovely women, Hildegard and Margaritte, who shared an interest in art and fashion. Hildegard spoke to the fact that LA is facing major obstacles in the art world (this resonated with Seattle’s struggles as well), though she seemed optimistic that there are enough young people in the city determined to keep the fashion and art scene alive.

I met another group of people whom I initially had approached because of their stylish ensembles. To my surprise, all three of them were from different countries: Venezuela, Cuba and Mexico. We relished in sharing travel stories, and how we all found ourselves in LA on this particular evening. They had just seen the exhibit and were blown away by its exhaustiveness and aesthetic appeal, and the resulting conversation was an open forum of sharing informed ideas, our respective backgrounds, experiences and styles merging into an exciting and positive discussion.

Many donors were in attendance, including William Escalera, who wore a perfectly fitting suit with numeric measurements on it. His boyfriend Francisco George was also easy to spot with his bright green and red Keith Haring outfit (together they looked impeccable!). Collector Martin Kamer was eager to share his view on the importance of art collecting with the VS team. Museum Director Michael Govan, who had given opening remarks Wednesday morning at the Reigning Men Press Preview, had donned a sharp-looking suit, and LACMA Assistant Curator Clarissa Esguerra basked in the party after a grueling five years of creating Reigning Men. A former educator on the history of fashion, she shared her thoughts on the cultural importance of fashion and how it serves as a sort of art history itself, mirroring cultural shifts and events.

The exhibit itself is breath-taking, with pieces ranging from Tom Ford to Gucci to Burberry, originally made for major figures and corporations like Calvin Klein and Comme des Garçons. The pieces play with the discussion around masculinity and femininity, which appropriately complemented the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit across the way on the same level. Because many of the displayed pieces were originally designed for specific people, each mannequin was painstakingly stylized to create an the effect of an individual, going so far as to include iconic hairstyles and tattoos. Reigning Men is the perfect union of high art and fashion in a vast historical framework, and is on display from April 10-August 21 at LACMA.

Travel back in time and take a journey through the history of men’s fashion, and catch a time capsule of the opening party in our photo gallery!