“Dandy Lion: Articulating a Re(de)fined Black Masculine Identity” is a show consisting of photographs and films featuring well dressed African American men. “Black Dandyism” is a style that combines African influence with European fashion. Curators at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum developed this show in response to concerns about the one sided images of black masculinity as shown through dress. Modern black dandyism developed as a reaction to young black me who wear informal styles such as baggy pants with boxer shorts showing. The curators seek to provoke discussion on black male identity and style.
Baltimore is a great place to spot this fashion trend. The black dandy style is more apparent in bohemian or gentrified neighborhoods where people are expected to express their individuality. These young men often sport tailored suits, bow ties, hats and cufflinks and the outfits are accented with well chosen bright colors or bold patterns. The black dandy was perceived as negative for a long time. During the 18th century wealthy British slave owners would dress select male slaves in high fashion as a status symbol. Dandyism was still looked upon as negative during the early and mid 20th century as people believed that black men should have bigger concerns than clothes. It was still popular, though. For more about this fashion trend see Alexandra Phanor-Faury’s article “Dawn of the Dandy: The New Black Gentleman”.
The museum is inviting gentlemen to come dressed in the spirit of the show. The show opened January 29 and will run through May 13, 2012. It features 20 photographs and filmmakers. The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture is located in downtown Baltimore at 803 E. Pratt Street. It is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10Am to 5PM and Sunday from noon to 5PM. Please see the general information section of their web page for information about parking, admission, and accommodations for visitors with special needs.