Mad About The Boy
'Mad About The Boy' explores fashion’s obsession with youth, focusing on the way ideas of the teenage boy are constructed through specific collections and images and unpicking the many notions of the young male that feature in fashion’s imagination. It presents the work of a variety of designers and image-makers - current as well as select examples from the 1980s and 1990s - who have shaped fashion’s ideal of the male or for whom the boy provides a constant source of inspiration.Fashion has long fetishised young people – from the body shape it champions to the way it draws consistently and unwaveringly on subcultures and street movements. But since the ascent of London Collections Men, and the general increased spotlight on high-end menswear fashion and outlets, from shops to magazines, the male youth seems more spotlighted than ever. In the three years since Hedi Slimane took over at Saint Laurent, the brand has more than doubled annual sales revenue to €707 million in 2014, up from €353 million in 2011. Slimane’s recipe is bottling youth and packaging it as luxury - he shows teen musicians, angst-ridden boys, wayward outsiders. Elsewhere, Raf Simons, a designer who has always been fascinated with youth culture, won one of the top jobs in womenswear, creative director of Dior. While in that role up until October 2015, and under his namesake label, he obsessed on the concept of youth, exploring rites of passage, revelry, groupings, tribes, innocence and his own milestones as a young man.In an age where fashion is so widespread in the popular consciousness, and seemingly so accessible, it is hard to define what is truly ‘luxury’. Labels, price points and fabrics somehow don’t feel enough - in their place more abstract concepts have become the holy grail of style; ‘youth’, ‘coolness’, ‘nonchalance’, things that are fleeting, haphazard and inaccessible. When writing in the New Yorker, Erin Overbey and Joshua Rothman argued, "the teen-age years are years of transformation, but, they are also, themselves, constantly transforming, generation by generation, decade by decade." Yet fashion’s relationship with youth is cyclical and repetitive - the same tropes and signatures appear regularly; sex, school, fandom, gangs, firsts. The fluidity and possibility of the teenage years seem to unite the preoccupation, sparked, perhaps by a strange belief in the precious genius of youth - a time of infinite opportunity and spontaneous, innate coolness, mixed with a precious naivety. Designers young and old return to these themes, constructing, rehashing and shaping the dream male, season in season out.