Artist, Rebel, Dandy, is a new survey of the last two and a bit centuries – beginning from the late 1700s when the word dandy first came into common use in London and Paris – of the intrepid men of fashion...
Writing in the early 1800s, Baudelaire declared that, “Dandyism is the last spark of heroism amid decadence.” The notoriously pithy (and scandalous) French author, himself counted amongst the ranks of early dandies, was hoping to capture the spirit of endurance, and often rebellion, which marks out men whose sartorial choices are as much about substance as they are about style. Artist, Rebel, Dandy, is a new survey of the last two and a bit centuries – beginning from the late 1700s when the word dandy first came into common use in London and Paris – of the intrepid men of fashion who have not only transcended the mores of their day, but helped redefine sensibilities as well as aesthetics along the way.
For this collection Patti Smith writes a personal essay on Baudelaire, who inspired her famously androgynous look for the cover of Horses, while Merlin Holland conjures his grandfather, Oscar Wilde, one of the world’s most famous dandies to date. The style of modern-day aesthetes including Andy Warhol and John Waters is also explored, alongside the Congolese sapeurs, a term derived from La Société des Ambianceurs et Personnes Élégantes (The Society for the Advancement of People of Elegance), and hip hop gallants such as André 3000.
“Dandyism is the last spark of heroism amid decadence”
A celebration of aesthetes, intellectuals, and innovators, there are musings on youth, cravats, and cuts, with investigations into the individual style of famous men including essayist Max Beerbohm, and sociologist WEB Du Bois – also the first African-American to receive a doctorate from Harvard, as well as current-day icons Michael Costiff in Comme des Garçons, and “London Particular” Guy Hills of Dashing Tweeds. “Fastidious, unbelievables, beaux, lions or dandies,” Baudelaire declares in his essay on The Dandy, “whichever label these men claim for themselves, one and all stem from the same origin, all share the same characteristic of opposition and revolt; all are representatives of what is best in human pride, of that need… to combat and destroy triviality.”
Text by Ananda Pellerin
Ananda Pellerin is a London-based writer and regular contributor to anothermag.com.