The Colourful History of Men's Fashion

Montreal, 8 May 2002 — Contrary to popular belief, fashion has always influenced what men wear. Beginning on May 17 the McCord will shed light on three hundred years of men's fashion, from the end of the 18th century to the present, with the opening of the much-anticipated exhibition Clothes Make the MAN. From a Victorian boy's dress to a leather motorcycle jacket, not to mention the elegant wardrobe of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, this exhibition will allow visitors to discover the diversity of men's fashion over time.

Masculinity, Vanity, Propriety and Fraternity — all have influenced men's clothing choices. These exhibition themes are springboards for discussions of intriguing and little-known chapters in the history of men's apparel. Lavish and eye-catching embroided waistcoats from the 18th century contrast with austere examples of mid-19th-century tailoring. Garments strategically constructed with padded chests or corseted waists betray men's preoccupation with improving their physique. The exhibition also presents clothing used to signal a man's social status as well as fashion worn in both public and private life.

This travelling exhibition was developed by guest curator Gail Cariou in collaboration with Cynthia Cooper, the McCord's Curator of Costume and Textiles and Eileen Stack, Curatorial Assistant. "The changing nature of clothing production, the evolution of new norms of modesty and the influence of sportswear are just some of the topics raised in this exhibition, which is sure to pique the curiosity of men and women alike," explains Ms. Cariou.

One section of the exhibition will feature clothing worn by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who was known for his strong fashion sense. His trademark dark green cape, his unforgettable buckskin jacket, and other key items from the Prime Minister's wardrobe were generously loaned to the Museum by the Trudeau family for this exhibition.

Exhibition spokesperson Philippe Dubuc is pleased to be taking part in this important event. "Menswear is too often overshadowed by women's fashion," declares the celebrated Quebec designer. "Clothes Make the MAN eloquently demonstrates that designers have always put their talents and imagination to work to benefit men who enjoy dressing well."

A full complement of cultural activities has been planned to accompany the exhibition. Clothes Make the MAN is on view at the McCord Museum (690 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal) from 17 May 2002 to 5 January 2003. The Museum is open from Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on weekends and holiday Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission (including taxes) is $9.50 for adults, $5 for students, $19 for families, $7 for seniors, and $3 for children between the ages of 7 and 12. Children aged 6 and under are admitted free of charge.

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The McCord wishes to thank the Museums Assistance Program, Heritage Canada for its generous support.

Source and Information:       

Lise Plante
Lise Plante Communications, (514) 575-3194