Here are a few things I learned at LACMA's new show Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015.
1. Men have been as vain as woman, witness two rare pieces: An old pair of long underwear with a corset like apparatus to give men the same hourglass shape cultivated by women and a set of stockings with lambswool implants designed to give men in tights the sexy calf muscles that proclaimed their masculinity.
2. Gregory Peck loved him some bespoke Saville Row suits. Reigning Men includes one of the 160 ensembles he ordered from H. Huntsman and Sons.
3. In Victorian England, men might relax by smoking a cigarette while dressed like a clown. Check the photos! The silk smoking jackets and suit on display are over-the-top.
4. It's harder to make up a male mannequin than a woman. It's not the clothes so much as the accessories: Canes, tie pins, hats, cuff links, handkerchiefs, etc. all have to be right. For the women, it's a dress and shoes.
For much more, listen to my interview with Sharon Takeda, senior curator and head of LACMA's Costume and Textiles Department, and Clarissa Esguerra, assistant curator of costume and textiles.