Two Fridays ago, I went up to Providence for the opening of Artist/Rebel/Dandy: Men of Fashion at the RISD Museum. My friend Waris Ahluwalia, the actor/jewelry designer/advice columnist, was one of the subjects of the exhibition, and he had enlisted me to write a brief essay about him for the book that accompanied the show. (I'm guessing his buddy Wes Anderson must have been too busy for the task.) The weekend's main event was a dinner in the newly restored Providence town library, which included a moving speech by the evening's honoree, André Leon Talley. But the real revelation was just how good this exhibition is.
The cocurators, Kate Irvin and Laurie Brewer, have taken an approach to the rather elastic subject of dandyism that is at once expansive and focused, erudite and charming. The clothes and objects themselves are fascinating. They've gathered everything from the black boots that the British performance artist Sebastian Horsley commissioned from John Lobb, staunchly traditional save for their seven-inch platform soles, to Andy Warhol's wig, which was made from yak, not human, hair. These artifacts are presented in a series of witty juxtapositions. I've included some of my favorite moments from the exhibition in the slide show above. I urge anyone with an interest in menswear—or anyone simply interested in an enjoyable, illuminating long weekend; Providence has several excellent restaurants, including the outstanding Al Forno—to book their tickets now. The show runs through August 18.
For more info, visit risdmuseum.org.