Art Review: Men's Suits @ Chiltern Street Fire Station

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 111 months ago
Art Review: Men's Suits @ Chiltern Street Fire Station

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Chiltern Street Fire Station
The Victorian fire station on Chiltern Street in Marylebone, soon to be a hotel yet in the meantime carving out an unlikely second life as a gallery space, has a new show curated by Artangel.

Men's Suits, by Charles LeDray, presents a wardrobe that would be best suited for one of Ron Meurk's foreshortened figures, or perhaps a dandy-ish four year old. Laid out in three well-lit pools in the fire station's cavernous engine shed are men's clothes made in miniature. Every garment a Little Lord Faulteroy could want are present and correct: suit jackets by the rack-ful, colourful ties arramged in an appealing circular fashion, cufflinks and well-pressed shirts: a full range of accoutrements that the most well-presented chap could want. Except, and here's the rub, it's all a third the size it should be, down to the hangers that each item sits on.

The attention to detail LeDray puts into these miniaturised tableaux is astonishing, and characteristic of his work — he typically spends an eternity working on each project, and this new show reputedly took him three years to finish. Getting up close to the clothes, you get the sense they've been lived in, and lived well; indeed, nose pressed down among the fabrics, you half expect to hear an enraged pip-squeak voice from behind demanding to know who's rifling through his belongings.

The gallery blurb explains that this piece embodies "the desire to... be marked out as an individual and belong to a tribe". But it delves beyond that, too, dragging in contemporary concerns about the reduction of childhood, and how kids are today both dragged up too early into an adult world, yet simultaneously celebrated as toy-like objects — the range of couture at Gap Kids has a particular echo here. In fact, were their main buyer to come visit, he or she would probably get a few ideas for next year's range.

Men's Suits, at Chiltern Street Fire Station (map), until September 20th. Open 11am-5pm, Tuesday - Sunday (until 7pm Saturday). Entry is free

Last Updated 17 July 2009