Dressing Black Masculinities

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28 Jun 2017

6pm to 8pm

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Historically, black men of African descent have resisted stereotypes and tropes through their dressed appearance. Adopting, adapting and appropriating styles from the cultures surrounding them, this group have exerted an undeniable influence on both subcultural style and mainsteam fashion - although this contribution is often overlooked in traditional accounts of mens’ history. In the 20th and 21st centuries black men have articulated their sartorial masculinities in myriad ways; sometimes blending in, sometimes standing out but always expressing multiple identities to reflect issues of culture, diaspora, fashion and appearance. Our three notable speakers will draw on and explore contemporary and historic aspects from their own research and experience.

Michael McMillan, artist, playwright, curator and educator examines Saga Bwoys, Rude Bwoys and Saggers: rebellious black masculinities How did the diasporic exchange of the postwar migration of Caribbean men to Britain offer resistance and creative agency to individuals through representation and material culture?

Christine Chechinska, artist, designer, writer and curator investigates the The Arrivants and the role of dress in the re-creation of self, central to African diasporic experiences. The negotiation of geographical, cultural and racial borders will be examined by comparing the 1796 Haitian Revolution with the 1948 arrival of the Empire Windrush; two episodes that marked shifts in the visibility of black masculinities.

Samson Soboye, designer and UAL Graduate discusses Hollywood perceptions of African males and their obsession with the Noble Savage. Issues around slavery, styles in the Heyday of the Disco era and the Afro through to the Black Power movement will all be explored in relationship to the Black Dandy; a character that is very present in Soboye's own style and sensibility.


Dr Michael McMillan
is a playwright, artist and curator and educator. He is the author of several plays, and as an artist is best known for his first installation, The West Indian Front Room exhibited with great success in 2005 at the Geffrye Museum, going on to inspire a BBC Four documentary called Tales from the Front Room (2007), a website, a 2009 book, The Front Room: Migrant Aesthetics in the Home, and various international commissions. He is an associate lecturer at London College of Fashion.

Dr Christine Checinska is an artist, designer, writer and curator whose work is situated at the meeting point between material culture and contemporary art. She writes about the relationship between cloth, culture and race. Her PhD, Colonizin’ in Reverse: the Creolised Aesthetic of the Windrush Generation, was awarded by Goldsmiths in 2009. She is currently an Associate Researcher at VIAD, University of Johannesburg and an Associate Lecturer in fashion at Goldsmiths, London.

Samson Soboye graduated from Central Saint Martin’s with a BA in Fashion, Communication & Promotion and rapidly built a reputation for distinctive styling. In 2012 his own Soboye label was launched to celebrate the African Nations participation in the London Olympics. The mens collection started as a range of shirts using African wax-print fabric to convey a modern aesthetic. Samson teaches across many universities in the UK including The University of East London, Epsom, Westminster and the London College of Fashion.

This event is hosted by the LCF Masculities Research Hub.

Photo credit: Curtis Benjamin