Chic sartorial subculture at Somerset House

Return of the Rudeboy

By Wava Carpenter

London's Somerset House is presenting Return of the Rudeboy, an original exhibition created and curated by prolific photographer and filmmaker Dean Chalkley and fashion-industry favorite, creative director Harris Elliott. The show spotlights the Jamaican-born sartorial subculture through a series of portraits, accompanied by music, installations, and objects.

Over the course of the past year, Chalkley and Elliott photographed over 60 sharply dressed individuals from across the UK, all of whom embody the essence—the style and swagger—of what it is to be a Rudeboy (or Rudie) in the 21st century.

Sam Lambert, Art Comes First Sam Lambert, Art Comes First

Gary Powell, Composer-Musician-DJ Gary Powell, Composer-Musician-DJ

Bevan Agyeman, Creative Director of Dxpe, and To-Orist Bevan Agyeman, Creative Director of Dxpe, and To-Orist

La Touche, aka Mr. Hat La Touche, aka Mr. Hat

Ayishat Akanbi, Style Creator Ayishat Akanbi, Style Creator

Baraj Mathews, Designer Baraj Mathews, Designer

Akinola Davies, Filmmaker Akinola Davies, Filmmaker

Dexter De Leadus, Shopkeeper Dexter De Leadus, Shopkeeper

Daniel @ We Are Cuts Daniel @ We Are Cuts

Originating on the streets of Kingston, Jamaica in the late 1950s, Rudeboy came to represent the young rebels who expressed their aloof-but-on-point attitudes in a way of dressing that embraced Mohair suits, thin ties, and pork pie hats.  The style was initially inspired by American Jazz and R&B musicians, as well as some notorious gangsters.  But, as is prevalent in the Rudeboy culture, the origins were appropriated and then twisted, with a strong resurgence in the 1980s, and once again today.

A treat for anyone who appreciates a sharp dressed man (and, occasionally, woman), Return of the Rudeboy is on view until August 25, 2014 at Somerset House, London.

*All images © Dean Chalkley. Creative direction by Harris Elliott. Courtesy Somerset House.

  • Text by

    • Wava Carpenter

      Wava Carpenter

      After studying Design History, Wava has worn many hats in support of design culture: teaching design studies, curating exhibitions, overseeing commissions, organizing talks, writing articles—all of which informs her work now as Pamono’s Editor-in-Chief.

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