Dandyism – The French

Portrait of Jules Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly

Portrait of Jules Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly

I am continually amazed as I read more on the subject of dandyism of both its active social role and the influence this role has had on gentlemens apparel for almost the last two hundred years. I would say that dandyism it is the style of presentation that the modern era adapted, breaking forever with the Medieval period. A leading French dandy, Jules Amédée Barbey d’Aurevilly, as recorded by Venetia Murray (in her book High Society: A Social History of the Regency Period, 1788–1830), as distinguishing the dandy from the previous fashion of the aristocracy,

…admirers of dandyism have taken the view that it is a sociological phenomenon, the result of a society in a state of transition or revolt. Barbey d’Aurevilly, one of the leading French dandies at the end of the nineteenth century, explained: Some have imagined that dandyism is primarily a specialisation in the art of dressing oneself with daring and elegance. It is that, but much else as well. It is a state of mind made up of many shades, a state of mind produced in old and civilised societies where gaiety has become infrequent or where conventions rule at the price of their subject’s boredom…it is the direct result of the endless warfare between respectability and boredom.

French writers of the era (among other artists and thinkers) like d’Aurevilly, Stendhal, Flaubert, and Baudelaire adopted dandyism,  each of whom further defined the break from the past rule of kings and described in their words, and dress, this new,  modern world and gentleman.

Picking up from Beau Brummel’s establishment of suitable dress for the refined gentleman who was not of noble status, these French writers expanded the meaning of dandyism beyond Brummel’s style and gave words to its role in the political expression of the  social order where the aristocracy was in decline and the middle-class began to rise.

I don’t think the French have looked back since.

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2 responses

  1. Pingback: The Dandy – A Manifesto « Kingpin Chic

  2. Pingback: Style Site of Note – The Worker-Dandyist International « Kingpin Chic

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