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The Shanghai Dandy

Monday 10 February 2020, 4.30PM

Speaker(s): Chris Breward, National Galleries of Scotland

Shanghai has been closely associated with glamorous living for well over a century, though this has largely been imagined, at least outside of China, in terms of feminine cultures of beauty and sexuality. As this lecture will demonstrate, over the same period the city has developed a distinct reputation for the craft skills associated with traditional menswear, particularly suits and shirts. It also enjoys a cultural heritage informed by a number of masculine stereotypes, many of them carrying strong sartorial associations (artist and literati at the turn of the twentieth century, film stars and colonials in the 1920s and 30s, celebrities, fashion leaders, taste makers and models in the 1990s and early 2000s). Drawing on work on the tailoring industries, studies of masculinities and sexualities in China, and media studies on contemporary consumption and representation, I hope to produce  a portrait of the Shanghai dandy rooted in the city and distinct from his European and North American counterparts, but also intimately connected to shared histories and hybrid influences.


Professor Christopher Breward

Christopher Breward is Director of Collection and Research at the National Galleries of Scotland. He was trained at the Courtauld Institute and the Royal College of Art, London and has previously worked as Head of Research at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and as Principal of Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh. His published interests include the relationship between Art and Fashion, Visual and cultural histories of masculinity and histories of city life. In April 2020 Professor Breward will take up the role of Director, National Museums Scotland.

Location: BS/005 Bowland Auditorium