“The Male Gaze” a panel discussion spotlighting the stars of a shoot in the Identity issue, and a candid talk of self-love in a man’s world.
In the evening of the 5th of July, a crowd of fashion industry professionals and enthusiasts gathered at a venue in East London. They were there to listen to a panel curated by Mission Magazine, based on an editorial in our latest issue. “Transparent,” shot by the deft hand of fashion photographer Sølve Sundsbø, is a shoot in the Identity Issue that features a breadth of masculine and gender expressions. Models pose in side-by-side images, clothed and then stripped down, exploring the relationship that men have with their bodies.
Instead of walls, the guests and panelists were surrounded by floor-to-ceiling LED screens. A feature of the W1 Curates facilities, the screens were lit up with short videos from the shoot so that the models were constantly on display. The immersive atmosphere made it clear that everyone was here to celebrate these fashion images, and to hear the models talk more about their own experiences of masculinity and self-acceptance.
The panel was hosted by Daniel Lismore, an artist and Mission’s Contributing Editor-at-Large. Lismore’s medium is himself, which is to say that he adorns himself every day with layers upon layers of collected fabrics, clothes and items. These ensembles are then exhibited in museums around the world. Also on the panel was Sundsbo the photographer, the stylist David Bradshaw, and four of the models from the shoot: James Corbin, Asad Zafar, Matthew Keller, and Nino Pereira.
From being an example for plus-size representation in male modeling, to navigating being gay as a religious person, the models were extremely open with their journeys. There was an overarching theme of becoming more comfortable with oneself when realizing that there isn’t one specific mold of beauty, acceptability, or masculinity. Representation is vital for that reason, to open up the visual lexicon of what masculinity can be.
Though more conversations like this are happening, we were reminded that a lot of the time, men are discouraged from speaking up as it comes across as vulnerable, emotional, and therefore unmanly. While women have been better at fostering a supportive, body-positive community online, men are sometimes embarrassed to have these sorts of conversations, which gets in the way of progress. The parting message was this: there is no one way to be a man. And, keep having those difficult conversations.
Special thank you to Mark Dale, Amanda McKenna, and Adam Cain, at W1 Curates, Conc3pt and Daniel Lismore. All imagery courtesy of Sølve Sundsbø.