Return of the Rude Boy... revisited

Last year 211 girls made a vow to be more cultured and visit more exhibitions. We did a a good job I must say, visiting the usual haunts like The Tate Modern and V&A. One show that was a highlight for us was the Rude boy Exhibition at Somerset house. Peep the piece I wrote about the show below!

A couple weeks back I got to catch the highly talked about exhibition show Return of the Rude boy at Somerset house. I had already seen numerous snaps on Instgram of all the distinctive fashion forward Rude Boys and Rude Girls featured in the show on my timeline. So when the day came when I could go (on Carnival weekend appropriately) I already knew I would be in for a real treat.

So you maybe wondering, what is this Rude Boy you speak of, well let me introduce you. Rude boy or Rude Bwoy as it is pronounced originally, is a way of expression originating from Kingston, Jamaica in the early 1950s. These innovative young men wanted to create a new identify for themselves. Influenced by Gangsters and cowboy films from the US, they created their own unique sartorial image, donning mohair suits and pork pie hats and shoes shined to the nines. Given western formal wear a Caribbean twist. This Rude Boy ethos was not only about the clothing but also the attitude. This way of being became adapted by the Brits once the first wave of Jamaican immigrants came to Britain in the Windrush era. Many subcultures have been influenced since then from the MODs to the skinheads of the 60s. Now we see it’s influences coming around again with these dapper 21st century Rudies.

This exhibition really resonated with me personally being of Jamaican decent. From you stepped into the exhibition space you where immersed in the sounds and images of the Rude Boy. Starting the journey you are met by original images of the rude boys of the 50s, helping you get a deeper understanding of the roots of this exhibition. From there you see the different creative’s personal interpretation of this movement, Many influential young creative’s of today were featured. From Stylist Ayishat Akanbi, Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh of Art Comes First a collaborative that encourages the networking of craftsmen, artisans and designers to conspire on creative and sartorial endeavors. Also installations incorporating the old and new reinforced by the music that give a pulse to the original Rude boys Reggae, rock steady and Ska.

This original exhibition created and curated by prolific photographer and filmmaker Dean Chalkley and fashion-industry favorite creative director Harris Elliott, really showed how this movement has reinvented itself and is still as relevant today as it was when it started. These individuals embody the essence of the Rudie of today, not afraid to represent themselves in a way that they feel is true to them.

Return of the Rude boy was a great introduction to this influential movement that started so long ago but still has the same relevant and forward thinking towards style and fashion now. This has again wet my appetite to know more about the original Rude Bwoys and also the cool style savvy individuals that were featured in the show.

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Safiya x