Press release: Upcoming exhibition ‘Reigning Men’ traces 300 years of men’s fashionable dress

By | April 24, 2017

ST. LOUIS, April 24, 2017— The Saint Louis Art Museum will present “Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015,” an exhibition that celebrates a rich history of restraint and resplendence in menswear. The ticketed exhibition will be on view from June 25 through Sept. 17.

Featuring more than 150 looks, “Reigning Men” traces cultural influences over the centuries, examines how elements of the uniform have profoundly shaped fashionable dress, and reveals how cinching and padding the body was—and is—not exclusive to women.

“Reigning Men” is drawn primarily from the renowned collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which organized the exhibition. When it premiered last year, The Los Angeles Times praised the exhibition as a “deep dive into the forces that have literally and figuratively shaped men’s fashion in a different—and delightful—way.”

“Fashion has not been a major collecting area for the Saint Louis Art Museum, so we felt a project based on scholarship and objects of exceptional quality would be an appropriate and exciting addition to our schedule,” said Brent R. Benjamin, Barbara B. Taylor Director of the Saint Louis Art Museum. “Because of the extraordinary collection and curatorial expertise of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, ‘Reigning Men’ is an exhibition we were eager to bring to St. Louis.”

The exhibition explores the history of men’s fashionable dress while re-examining the equation of “fashion” with “femininity.”

Beginning with the 18th century, the male aristocrat wore a three-piece suit conspicuous in make and style, and equally as lavish as the opulent dress of his female counterpart. The 19th-century “dandy” made famous a more refined brand of expensive elegance which became the hallmark of Savile Row. The mid-20th-century “mod” relished in the colorful and modern styles of Carnaby Street, and the 21st-century man—in an ultra-chic “skinny suit” by day and a flowered tuxedo by night—redefines today’s concept of masculinity.

The Saint Louis Art Museum will offer an array of exhibition-related programming, including lectures, gallery talks and family programs that expand on the themes of “Reigning Men.” Sharon S. Takeda, senior curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, will share behind-the-scenes stories about the exhibition at the free, opening lecture “Tales of Reigning Men” on June 23 at 11 am in the museum’s Farrell Auditorium. (Although the lecture is open to the public, the exhibition will be open to museum members only on June 23.)

The presentation at the Saint Louis Art Museum is co-curated by Genevieve Cortinovis, assistant curator of decorative arts and design, and Zoe A. Perkins, textile conservator.

Exhibition ticket prices are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and students, and $6 for children ages 6 to 12. The exhibition is free for museum members. Tickets are available in person or through MetroTix. Tickets purchased through MetroTix incur a service charge.

Financial assistance has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency. The project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

CONTACT: Matthew Hathaway, 314.655.5493,