© Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences

The evolution of fashion and style of the fairer sex may have been more prominent, but men have also seen a dramatic transformation of their appearance over the past centuries. Recently opened at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney is Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear 1715–2015, an exhibition which explores the history of men’s fashionable dress from the 18th century to the present. Originally organised by LACMA in Los Angeles and first presented on its premises two years ago, it’s the most elaborate showcase of menswear ever assembled, and quite interestingly, it also lays bare the often overlooked peacock element in men’s outfits of the past and present. Beginning with the 18th century, the male aristocrat wore a three-piece suit conspicuous in make and style, and just as lavish as the dress of his female counterpart.

The 19th-century dandy made famous a more refined brand of expensive elegance which became the hallmark of Savile Row, the British capital’s renowned address of bespoke tailors. The mid-20th century mod relished in the colourful and modern styles of Carnaby Street, and the 21st century man – in an ultra-chic skinny suit by day and a flowered tuxedo by night – pretty much redefines today’s concept of masculinity. Next to historic pieces, included in the show are over 130 garments by top designers, such as Gucci, Saint Laurent, Comme des Garçons and Alexander McQueen, allowing illuminating connections between history and high fashion (on through Oct 14). A program of events and talks will accompany the exhibition. Highlights include monthly curator tours that delve into the historical context of men’s style. Location: Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street (Ultimo).

© Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences