Left: Rick Owens, autumn/winter 2015/16. Right: Raf Simons spring/summer 2017
Are they the same thing: showing your family jewels in the flesh and via a photographic image? Are they in the same way pornographic, equally shameless, just as obscene? Or are they, as one media outlet suggests, the “art of pride”?
No, we’re not talking cock. At the just-concluded Pitti Uomo Show in Florence, guest designer—there were four this year—Raf Simons showed, among many black and white images, close-ups of the male genitalia, affixed to various parts of his clothes. Although these were mostly worn under outerwear (except one jacket, now making the rounds on the Web), the photographs were unmistakable: you couldn’t see anything else other than sexual organs.
The photographs are the works of American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Although not described as such by Mr Simons, many consider this as homage to the late artist who was known for his nudes of men and women as much as his still life of flowers. According to the designer, he was approached by Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to explore the possibility of using the photographs in Mr Simons’s designs.
Since we are not permanent residents of Disneyland, we didn’t think that by saying yes, Mr Simons was simply going to do a couple of pretty photo-prints on T-shirts. Ever the provocateur, he wasn’t going to settle for a few merely “artistic” images either. Watching the presentation on YouTube, we were wondering when a penis will pop out, and it sure did.
This, for some of you, may be déjà vu since last year in January, Rick Owens showed men with exposed crotch under tunics, cut to barely cover that daylight-shy area. Social media went wild and, unsurprisingly, birthed the hashtag #dickowens. Yesterday’s peepshow is today’s full boner, but if a fully aroused schlong is only a mouse/screen click away, is wearing an erection on one’s shirt even shocking at all?
If only fifteenth century men could teleport themselves to the present, they would be able to see how redundant the codpiece could have been! Didn’t Robert Mapplethorpe himself say, “Beauty and the devil are the same thing”?