Charles Jeffrey's "diverse body of material" goes on display at Somerset House


London’s Somerset House has opened The Lore of Loverboy, a new exhibition celebrating 10 years of the genderfluid, punk-revival fashion house founded by Glasgow-born designer and illustrator Charles Jeffrey.

According to Somerset House, the exhibition explores the trajectory of the Loverboy brand from its inception to the present day. Providing an immersive insight into creative production, industry and spectacle, it also aims to cover the full spectrum of Jeffrey’s artistic output.

The exhibition includes custom designs and archival artefacts, as well as newly commissioned works and collaborative projects.

The Lore of LOVERBOY interior view at Somerset House, London
The Lore of Loverboy has opened at Somerset House

“It’s not just about celebrating 10 years of Loverboy; it’s about sharing our approach to fashion; being creative, approachable, and not taking ourselves too seriously,” said Jeffrey.

“We’re here to shine a light on what we’ve built and to show that if we can do it, so can you. Visitors can expect to see our journey, our quirks, and have a good laugh along the way,” he continued.

“It’s about making fashion accessible and fun, reminding everyone that at the end of the day, it’s about expressing who you are.”

The Lore of LOVERBOY interior view at Somerset House
The exhibition chronicles Charles Jeffrey’s work

Located within the Terrace Rooms of the building’s South Wing, the exhibition follows a chronological format and has been divided into three distinct spaces – Initiation, Ritual and Manifestation.

Each space is characteristic of the Loverboy brand’s striking use of pattern and colour, paying homage to Jeffrey’s Scottish heritage through continual displays of motifs such as tartan.

The first room, Initiation, is an immersive ode to Loverboy’s origins as a queer club night in east London. Emulating the interior of a nightclub, design features include a neon cloakroom sign, purple LED lighting and industrial framing in the signature tartan pattern.

On display are a plethora of Jeffrey’s initial works and influences informed by style icons like Andy Warhol and Vivienne Westwood, documenting his early development as a student at Central Saint Martins before graduating and launching his label in 2015.

Initiation room at The Lore of LOVERBOY by Charles Jeffrey
Initiation honours Loverboy’s nightlife roots with purple LED lighting and a neon cloakroom sign

“I am a huge fan of Charles’ MA collection, I can remember seeing it when it first came out and being so impressed,” the exhibition’s co-curator Bunny Kinney told Dezeen.

“My favourite look from that collection – long red jacket and paint splattered trousers with a deconstructed Aran jumper – is one of the first you see upon entering the exhibition and really sets the tone for that first room.”

Initiation room at The Lore of LOVERBOY by Charles Jeffrey
The exhibition was built with industrial framing

Contextual objects from the Loverboy archive adorn the space and add detail to chosen garments. Sketchbooks, handwriting and personal photographs are among the never-before-seen ephemera.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of curating the exhibition was the opportunity to incorporate such a diverse body of material in addition to actual garments,” the exhibition’s co-curator Jonathan Faiers told Dezeen.

Close-up of club flyer at Initiation room
Garments, personal artefacts and ephemera line the three rooms

Jeffrey’s craftsmanship is demonstrated in the second room of the exhibition, Ritual, by showing the various stages and methods of his design process. A selection of Jeffrey’s garments are also on display in this room.

“We presented a reconstruction of the quintessential object common to all workshops, studios, and ateliers – the table on which we assembled a group of items and ephemera that tell the story of the design process of a jacket from conception to finished garment,” said Faiers.

Fabric swatches, mood boards and digital research sketches are just some of the artefacts scattered across the meticulous recreation of Loverboy’s pattern cutting table. Two floors below is the table used daily by the fashion house’s team, which is still based in Somerset House.

Pattern cutting table recreation at The Lore of LOVERBOY's Ritual room
Ritual details Jeffrey’s design process

The final room, Manifestation, focuses on Loverboy’s most flamboyant and extravagant designs

Highlights include a silver jumpsuit worn on stage by singer Harry Styles, a blue patterned cape dress with a coat for actress Tilda Swinton at the Fashion Awards 2022, and armour made from ceramics in collaboration with English crockery and homeware brand Wedgwood.

Manifestation room at The Lore of LOVERBOY by Charles Jeffrey
Manifestation highlights Loverboy’s flamboyant red carpet and runway-ready designs

Jeffrey is one of Somerset House Studios’ original artists and maintains a strong relationship with the institute. Somerset House in the Strand provides residence to a variety of creative organisations, alongside a cultural programme of temporary arts activations and exhibitions throughout the year.

As part of the London Design Biennale in 2023, the site hosted a selection of pavilions, while a courtyard installation created by British designer Es Devlin comprising 400 trees was installed in the courtyard in 2021.

The photography is by David Parry, courtesy of Somerset House.

The Lore of Loverboy will run from 8 June to 1 September 2024 at Somerset House in London. For more events, exhibitions and talks in architecture and design visit the Dezeen Events Guide.



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