This summer, Somerset House is ready to present Return of the Rudeboy, an original exhibition created and curated by prolific photographer and filmmaker for musicʼs most wanted Dean Chalkley and fashion-industry favourite creative director Harris Elliott, which showcases a sartorial subculture through a series of portraits, installations and set pieces.
Return of the Rudeboy will be an immersive experience of visuals and sounds, taking visitors into the worlds of todayʼs Rudeboys. Each of the subjects featured in the portraits have provided their signature playlist, which will be amalgamated along with curatorsʼ and collaboratorsʼchoices into a soundtrack to capture the spirit and soul of the Rudeboy, acting as a sonic backdrop to the visual works.
Since grooming is integral to the Rudeboy routine, the space will host a pop-up ʻgrooming stationʼ where visitors can book appointments to get their hair cut or beard trimmed by a top Rudeboy barber. Select installation set pieces will be placed alongside the photography to give another glimpse into the Rudie lifestyle. Working with artisan box maker Kitty Farrow and luggage manufacturer Alstermo, bespoke brief cases, hat boxes and luggage sets will be made to show how this collective of individuals pays attention to detail in all aspects with their fashions.
In true Rudeboy style, Chalkley and Elliott have collaborated closely with a variety of inspirational and influential creative minds to contribute exciting, engaging and enriching content to the exhibition. These include Rashad Smith, a British-born, New York-based producer who has worked with the likes of The Notorious B.I.G, Busta Rhymes and Nas; the Art Comes First creative collective founded by top travelling tailors Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh; and founding member of Big Audio Dynamite, Grammy award-winning filmmaker and international DJ Don Letts, a pillar of the punk and reggae scene who inspired a generation through his groundbreaking music, films and fashions.
Don Letts said: “In a conservative culture that feels like punk never happened, the time is right for Return of the Rudeboy. Being as old as rockʼnʼroll, I’ve been perfectly placed to witness the twists and turns of a style-driven youth culture that seems to have all but disappeared in the 21st century, or so I thought. Return of the Rudeboy looks at the tradition, heritage and most importantly re-emergence of what is a very British thing.”
Text by Laura De Matteis