SHOWstudio has always dedicated itself to showcasing fashion live and in motion, the way we believe it's meant to be seen. Although there's a time and place for magazines and still images, when fashion moves, it's not only defined by the character of the clothes but the character of the wearer too - which is why Tom Hingston's latest work for the V&A's exhibition Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear is a progressive portrayal of how fashion is meant to be seen; as moving image.
Of course, the best photographers can do both. Referencing how motion can still be seen in stagnant portraits if done well, Hingston considers this talent a vast inspiration. Putting it in his own words, he told us: 'There is, of course, a long, established history of photographers and artists who have experimented with movement and clothing in portraiture – Martin Munkácsi, Philippe Halsman, Avedon and then later Longo – all of whom were fantastic points of reference in our early conversations.'
With images photographed by Julian Broad, the campaign features looks from three designers from the V&A exhibition, all credited with challenging menswear in modern times; Harris Reed, Nicholas Daley and Gucci by Alessandro Michele. The three variations all reference different distinctive silhouettes, courtesy of the designers themselves - fluid and dress like from Harris Reed; tough, to reference Nicholas Daley, and a classic tailored suit from Gucci. As the figures are twisted, stretched and charged with energy, creating a series of dynamic compositions, the work lauds both the performance of men's fashion as well as its deconstruction.
Speaking of the brief and what it meant for him from a curatorial perspective, Hingston said:
'The brief was to develop a campaign for a landmark contemporary and multi-disciplinary fashion experience, that challenges notions of masculinity and gender...Given the scale of the show, the campaign had to be expansive, working hard across all platforms – both print and digital. This means the variation in formats is wide-ranging – from the side of a bus, an Instagram post, digital banners, on-site installations at the museum itself or a digital underground display. Therefore, the campaign is conceived to express far more than a poster; it requires a central idea, with creativity that can flex across all these touch points.'
Referencing the elegantly composed dancing figures, Hingston added, 'In early conversations with Julian and Russell we discussed the idea of choreographing a sequence which allowed the dancer to explore a range of contrasting shapes – extended horizontals and elongated verticals – all captured as motion and stills (and although) there are certain fixed elements at play – outfit, colour, typography, all bringing together consistency - we also have a fluidity of movement and form. This provided an image palette to work across the campaign more dynamically, ensuring that we could present the best pose or figurative composition for any given format without compromising the balance of elements. Taking this approach also means that the campaign can continue to evolve over the eight-month duration of the show.'
This is not the first time Hingston Studio has worked with the V&A; the celebrated graphic designer also worked on a selection of posters for the museum's fantasy-led exhibition Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser, of which he took inspiration from vintage circus posters, offering an expressive framework for the language of the Alice show, but also an opportunity to introduce various characters from the book.
The latest V&A exhibition also features designs by Ludovic de Saint Sernin, Jean Paul Gaultier and Maison Margiela by John Galliano, all explored in the show's three galleries; Undressed, Overdressed and Redressed. In a recently launched project mapping the stellar showcase, co-curators Claire Wilcox and Rosalind McKever were interviewed by SHOWstudio's feature editor Hetty Mahlich as they toured the exhibition, identifying key items in the lexicon of menswear, further contextualising them within fashion and art history.
Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear runs from 19 March - 6 November, 2022.