HISTORY OF THE DANDY: FLAMBOYANT FLANEUR MALE FASHION, FROM ROCOCO WIGS TO NEW ROMANTIC, STEAMPUNK & NEO-VICTORIANA.
Male flamboyance: a centuries-old tradition that has evolved but never gone out of fashion. Today’s ruffled riff-raff — think Japan’s Goth Aristocrats and New York’s Dances of Vice (above) — are but the modern incarnation of the European dandy. So let’s raise our bowler hats to our foppish forefathers who paved the road to Visual Kei and Harajuku boys.
The male peacock bared his tail-feathers in 18th and 19th century Europe. “Laconically witty clothes-horse” Beau Brummell and “Dandy King” Joachim Murat set the stage for the slightly eccentric but always stylish gentleman. Let’s not forget the infamous Oscar Wilde and Lord Byron. (Come on, fellow contemporary writers — live up to the decadence of your predecessors!)
In mid-18th century Britain and America, the ornate man “stuck a feather in his hat and called it maccaroni.” These caricatures capture the maccaroni’s outlandish tailed jackets and towering powdered wigs.
After suffering through the French Revolution and Reign of Terror, the bourgeoisie just wanted to have fun. The Incroyables and their female counterparts, the Merveilleuses, ornamented themselves in floppy collars and bows. Long hair on men has always been a mark of bad boy hedonism, hasn’t it?
Frilly shirts and powdered visages came back to life in the 1980s New Romantics. The Blitz Kids’ club fashion influenced some of my favorite 80s synth-poppers: Visage, Adam and the Ants, Ultravox, Duran Duran, Human League, Spandau Ballet.
Today, the male dandy lives on in Japanese Gothic Aristocrats, Visual Kei J-rockers, Steampunks and other Neo-Victorian/Goth sartorialists. As for their female counterparts: no matter what era you’re living in, there’s a place for long gloves and ostrich feathers. And ding-a-linging your young boytoy… well, that never gets old!
Song of the Day #279: 12012 – Heart (J-rock dandies carry the flame forward.)