DRESSED TO KILL

College Night 2016 hosted by LACMA featured an exhibit on menswear

By Jordan Daniels Staff Writer

College students have a flair for the contemporary, a taste for the modern and a hunger for art. However, art is not always easily accessible, especially because of financial reasons. But with the help of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), art is accessible and free to all college students one night per year.

From exhibits on pictures and paintings to models of cars and fashion, LACMA College Night 2016, which was held on Thursday, became a creative playground for students. 

“I saw the event from Facebook,” said first year Edith Echeberria from Glendale Community College. “I think it’s amazing that they [LACMA] opened up their exhibits to college students for free.”

European fashion is a blend of different styles, fabrics and patterns (Jordan Daniels/Union Weekly)

While only specific exhibits were open for students, two of the exhibits were ticketed attractions, saving $50 for those who attended. The ticketed exhibits featured were Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium and Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear 1715-2015. 

Robert Mapplethrope is most famous for his work which presents a duality in the combination of sexual fetishes and artistic undergrounds. With most of his work being shot in black and white, much of it contrasted the conservatism of his 1980s upbringing with his own progressive thinkings on experimentation of both the human body and social norms. 

Being gay, much of Mapplethrope’s  exhibit focused heavily on the male form, highlighting masculine features and different angles of genitalia in some works. Some also took the form of speaking about social inequities between races through classicism. A favorite in the exhibit was a picture of a white hand grasping a black penis, representing a constant power struggle between races and relating to the idea that white men often hold power over other races, especially those who are black.

“A lot of it was so abstract,” said Khira Layton, a Chapman University film major. “The way he presented his work is so different than artists today and it really sparks conversation from the 1980s that was very much social taboo.”

A group of different style of punk fashion famous in the UK in the ‘80s (Jordan Daniels/Union Weekly)

The other exhibit, Reigning Men, focused on the evolution of men’s fashion from the last 300 years. With emphasis on the changing fashions of different cultures, the exhibit often made interesting parallels of the way our styles have not only evolved, but also remain in today’s fashion trends. With heavy roots in European fashion, especially UK-influenced, we saw a lot of stereotypically stylized outfits such as black shoes with giant buckles, different colored half-suits that covered the torso but left the legs exposed. 

We see the different wigs and headdresses that people wore, along with long jabots that covered the neckline, which also gave the exhibit hints of nostalgia and admiration for the late singer Prince, who had just passed away earlier that day and was known for having a distinct sense of fashion.

There were contrasts from these traditional wears through the styles of the iconic British punk rock movement with blends of colors, leather pants, spiked hair and sleeveless arms, to more formal wear that focused on expression through many different brightly colored suits. 

Throughout the exhibit, each room focused on a different type of wear, where it was traditional wear, formal wear, military, swimwear, etc. Each room held different wears from different cultures, most fashions from the UK and Japan. 

 A blend of formal and casual wear with neutral colors (Jordan Daniels/Union Weekly)

The Japanese styles were as fascinating as they were mystifying, often a variety of colors on a mixes of different styles. There would be half-kimonos with florals of black and gold, but underneath would be full suits and their shoes would be wild colorful patterns or simply a pair of wooden clogs. There was such a dynamism in the ways the clothes were presented that had guests enamored. 

“I want to choose an exhibition that I think college students will really respond to,” said Amber Smith, content specialist of LACMA’s Education and Public Programs. “I strive to create as many channels with which to engage, and learn about the art.”

From art to fashion, conversations were struck by many guests and connections were made by attendees through the common interests in what the pieces said about identities, social norms, styles and fashion.  LACMA College Night 2016 - Success.

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