The Street Dreams exhibition in the Kunsthal Rotterdam provides a broad overview of the influential role that hip-hop culture has played in the fashion world over the years. From Louis Vuitton to the court painter of Barack Obama.
Most museums would organize an exhibition on the influence of hip hop on fashion with photos, video clips and clothing from hip-hop culture over the years, supplemented by designer pieces influenced by that culture. Well-known examples of such pieces are the 'hip-hop' necklaces by Chanel from 1991 and the collection that Gucci recently made in collaboration with Dapper Dan , the hip-hop couturier from Harlem. He made a name for himself in the 1980s by putting logos of famous brands on his own clothing designs. Street Dreams in the Rotterdam Kunsthal does it differently. The exhibition has been compiled in part by Lee Stuart of the Amsterdam fashion label Patta and the Rotterdam HipHopHuis, a foundation that offers hip-hop courses and organizes events.
Brave Dan is indeed on the exhibition. The exhibition features a number of photos of hip-hop artists from the eighties and nineties dressed in his designs, although his name is not mentioned there. It can only be read in one of the room texts. Garments from Dapper Dan are also missing at the exhibition. There are few fashion objects to be seen at all: a pair of shoes from the Dutch sneaker brand Filling Pieces , a cap and T-shirt from the American brand Supreme specialized in hip hop and skateboard clothing - with the luxury brand Louis logo Vuitton on it. The French fashion giant initially demanded that the items be withdrawn from the market, but entered into a very successful partnership with the streetwear brand in 2017.
Instead of items of clothing, the exhibition mainly shows films and photos. Street Dreamsstarts with a video specially made for the exhibition by director Victor D. Ponten, known for the successful Dutch film Rabat (2011). His work shows sixty people from Rotterdam, dressed in outfits that symbolize the history of street wear and hip hop fashion.
The most surprising part is 'The Gallery', in which visual art inspired by hip-hop style can be seen. This includes photography - by Dana Lixenberg and Janette Beckman among others - but also paintings and sculptures, such as the three gold-plated statues of heads of black men by Thomas J. Price. Kehinde Wiley, who painted the official portrait of Barack Obama, has created a stained glass window entitled Saint Amelie . A black young man dressed in streetwear is depicted as a saint, a reference to the work of the French artist Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867). The work places young black men on a pedestal.
Street Dreams is not a very large exhibition and far from complete. Yet it does provide a good and broad picture of a culture that still leaves a huge mark on fashion and music.