Sartorial subculture is explored in a series of portraits, installations and set pieces in Return of the Rudeboy, an exhibition created and curated by prolific photographer and filmmaker Dean Chalkley and fashion-industry favourite Harris Elliott.

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Over the course of the past year, the duo has photographed more than 60 sharply dressed individuals from across the UK, all of whom embody the essence of what it is to be a Rudeboy or Rudie in the 21st century, to document the life, style and attitude of this growing urban group.

Originating from the streets of Kingston, Jamaica in the late 1950s, Rudeboy or Rudie came to represent the young rebels who wore distinctively sharp sartorial styles such as Mohair suits, thin ties and pork pie hats. 

The style was closely connected to the music movements of the time; their initial inspiration derived from American Jazz and R&B musicians as well as some notorious gangsters.  As is prevalent in the Rudeboy culture, the origins were appropriated and then twisted. 



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For example, R&B was imported from the USA to Jamaica and reworked into what became known as Ska, the first and fundamental music for Rudeboys. The late 1950s was a time of migration, so the culture, music and attitude travelled to the UK shores and across the world from Jamaica.

The Rudeboy has travelled through time since then and evolved; in the 1980s, Two-Tone brought it right back into the frame.  Now today’s young men and women have adopted the swagger and adapted the essence of the original Rudeboy, but for a 21stcentury generation.

Far from a snapshot street-style photography project, the exhibition is a collection of images showing subjects presenting their pure and singular sartorial swagger in locations linked to the Rudeboy lifestyle, whether it be on the streets of Shoreditch or Savile Row. Multimedia installations and set pieces expose the everyday details of the modern Rudeboy, from the music he listens to down to his daily grooming routine.

Each of the subjects featured in the portraits have provided their signature playlist, which have been amalgamated along with curators’ and collaborators’ choices 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 is also hosting a pop-up grooming station where visitors can book appointments to get their hair cut or beard trimmed by a top Rudeboy barber. 

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Select installation set pieces have been 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 have been 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.

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The photographs and set pieces will be on sale along with bespoke hand-bound books featuring the images on show in the exhibition.  Customised, designer collaboration clothing and accessories inspired by Rudeboys will also be available.

Return of the Rudeboy is at Terrace Rooms , Somerset House, Strand, WC2, until August 25, 10am until 6pm daily.


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