This summer, Somerset House is proud to present Return of the Rudeboy, an original exhibition created and curated by prolific photographer and filmmaker for music’s most wanted Dean Chalkley and fashion-industry favourite creative director Harris Elliott, which showcases a sartorial subculture through a series of portraits, installations and set pieces. Over the course of the past year the duo has photographed over 60 sharply dressed individuals from across the UK, all of whom embody the essence of what it is to be a Rudeboy (or Rudie) in the 21st century, to document the life, style and attitude of this growing urban group. The curated collection of images shows the subjects presenting their pure and singular sartorial swagger in locations linked to the Rudeboy lifestyle, whether it be on the streets of Shoreditch or Savile Row.
The exhibition is an immersive experience of visuals and sounds, taking visitors into the worlds of today’s Rudeboys. Each of the subjects featured in the portraits have provided their signature playlist, which is amalgamated along with curators’ and collaborators’ choices into a soundtrack to capture the spirit and soul of the Rudeboy, acting as a sonic backdrop to the visual works. Since grooming is integral to the Rudeboy routine, the space will host a pop-up ‘grooming station’ on Thursdays and Saturdays, from saturday 21 June, where visitors can book appointments to get their hair cut or beard trimmed by a top Rudeboy barber. Working with artisan box maker Kitty Farrow and luggage manufacturer Alstermo, bespoke brief cases, hat boxes and luggage sets have been made to show how this collective of individuals pays attention to detail in all aspects with their fashions.
Originating from the streets of Kingston, Jamaica in the late 1950s, Rudeboy or Rudie came to represent the young rebels who wore distinctively sharp sartorial styles such as Mohair suits, thin ties and pork pie hats. The style was closely connected to the music movements of the time; their initial inspiration derived from American Jazz and R&B musicians as well as some notorious gangsters. As is prevalent in the Rudeboy culture, the origins were appropriated and then twisted. The Rudeboy has travelled through time since then and evolved; in the 1980s, Two-Tone brought it right back into the frame. Now today’s young men and women have adopted the swagger and adapted the essence of the original Rudeboy but for a 21st century generation.
Groovy and stylish exhibition. Very nicely put together. And it’s free.