Thursday, August 29, 2013

Beau Brummell of the 21st Century: David Gandy

The year 1795 – the first year of the Regency period in England was also the year George ‘Beau’ Brummell held the position of Lieutenant in the Prince of Wales' personal regiment. While in the regiment, he was called “the first gentleman of England.” Theirs was to be a unique friendship that lasted many years until an unfortunate incident - a single question doomed their relationship.

The Regency was a wonderful time and Beau Brummell was instrumental in transforming men’s fashions from the fussy, feminine time of the Georgian era. Wigs, heeled shoes, rouge and lace were set aside for a new look, one attributed to Beau’s sense of the impeccable. He modernized men’s suits and ties. He took great pride in his clothing, his dressing room often full of ton elites, including the Prince himself. These sessions often lasted up to five hours.

He was also noted for his particular rituals, including daily bathing, shaving and teeth cleaning.

But it was attention to dress that drew the most praise and admiration.

“Brummell put into practice the principles of harmony of shape and contrast of colors with such a pleasing result that men of superior rank sought his professional opinion on their dress.”

Brummell is number two on Esquire’s All Time Best Dressed List.

So has anyone else noticed we have a modern day Beau Brummell amongst us?

His name is David Gandy, possibly the world’s best-paid male model, certainly the best looking, most well dressed man in the world. He is routinely identified as one of the best dressed by Vogue and GQ. His fans rally around him, trouncing other famous faces and celebrities when it comes to voting for him in any number of popularity contests.
                                                                  ©John Ryder

The comparisons are easy to make.

While David is best known for his intense blue gaze, his dark, chiseled features and perfectly portioned body, it is his contribution to fashion that, I think, will be his lasting legacy.

David entered the fashion world in a time when male models were “skinny and androgynous,” such were the Dior and other models of the 90’s. Dare I say it, feminine? Sounds like the pre-Brummell Georgian era, doesn't it? David entered that world with more muscle than was popular with design fashion houses. He has continued to flex those muscles in any number of endeavors.

He is a tireless promoter of British fashion and has developed in his own fashion app to help the average man outfit himself with tasteful dress and accessories and without breaking a budget. Such an app nearly allows one to step into Gandy’s bedroom to watch his particular harmony of dress, though I would accept a personal invitation should it be extended.

The suit was Brummell’s trademark, such as it is with Gandy. David wears a suit as if it were a second skin. He espouses tailoring, preferring the bespoke over the mass produced.
©Lucky Brand shoot
And like Brummell, Gandy is versatile, his style sense appealing to mechanics with his Lucky Brand jeans and t-shirts and to businessmen with his Thom Sweeney suits. And just as Brummell wore a gold buckle on his cravat while at Eton, Gandy is all about accessories to add the final touches to complement the perfect outfit.


But as with every road, eventually there is divergence. While Brummell died penniless and insane, Gandy seems to have a much better head on his shoulders. He is certainly popular with women but he has the added drive and focus to keep Gandy, Inc. prospering for years to come.

Finally, David has made fashion relatable – he has cred and steeze. One can believe what David says. For years, fashion has been about artsy pretension. David makes one want to peer inside, to be part of the world reserved for the elite. And he does this to Brummell perfection. Gandy is the "First Gentleman of the 21st Century."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Long and Short Reviews 6th Anniversary Party COMING SOON

Heads up for LASR's 6th Anniversary Party.
Tons of authors, tons of swag.
You don't want to miss this bash.
All this is happening between August 26th and August 30th.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Whole Art of Dress

Here's a great excerpt from an1830's tome I recently purchased about men's fashion. Full of great new stuff.

The Whole Art of Dress
The Road to Elegance and Fashion.

I shall now proceed to note and comment upon a portion of dress, in the selection and method of wearing which taste and neatness is pre-eminently to be distinguished; more particularly in full costume. First I shall treat of Stocks, which, though assuming a variety of forms, and shaped for the sake of perspicuity, I have distinguished only under their three general heads, the Royal George or Full Dress, the Plain Beau, and the Military.
The origin of stock is very ancient, though for the last half century they have been worn almost exclusively by the Army, Navy, and Marines, until first revived into public notice by his late Majesty, in the year 1822, when they immediately became an universal fashion.
 Though at first viewed with a prejudiced and jealous eye by friends of the old school, after some opposition from the petits maitres tribe, they at length found their way into the opera and ballroom, and became a portion of full-dress costume. But this has only occurred since his Majesty was pleased to display one at Drury Lane theatre, composed of velvet and satin, from whence the present full-dress stock takes its name. Habit still, however, in some degree, reflects upon stocks for evening costume, and the adoption, though increasing, is by no means at present popular among the ton. I now proceed to describe three fashions I have classed them under.
 Or Full Dress. This stock, the shape of which is left in a great degree to the wearer's pleasure, is composed of the richest black Genoa velvet and satin, the latter which, sloping down each side of the velvet, terminates in the centre with a very handsome tie, representing a small gordian knot with short broad ends. From the beautiful and lively contrast, of the velvet and satin, this stock is peculiarly becoming to dark complexions, as nothing can afford a stronger relief than the deep sable of its exterior. His Majesty and his royal brothers were always remarkable for wearing them extremely high on the cheek, so that the sides came close under the ears, extending to the utmost verge of the chin. Though this certainly gives a very noble and fine effect to some countenances, the rage for it has passed away and is now deemed singular.
Is nearly straight-sided, very pliant, and composed entirely of black silk, with a common bow in front. Though of an humble aspect beside its more haughty and aristocratical contemporaries, its appearance is unassuming and businesslike. Fashion decidedly Oriental.
Is remarkable for the plain stiff elegance of its form, which is composed of corded silk, edged with kid and lined with crimson; unlike the two former fashions it has no tie. The shape or stiffner should be made of a thick whity-brown leather, which is beaten into shape upon a proper block, it should then be of so unyielding a nature that no force of the neck can bend it. A good shape ought to bear new covering at least a dozen times. The tout ensemble of this fashion expresses plainness and dignity with neatness and hauteur in an infinite degree.
Of stocks in general, it may be observed, that they are both handsome and economical, and are not attended with half the trouble of cravats, to which they become a pleasing change, more especially so in dark or gloomy weather, when light-coloured neckerchiefs have a very forlorn appearance. Of course it need scarcely be said that the military and plain beau should never be assumed for full dress. A large sable-coloured hook and eye, will be found an excellent and easy substitute for a buckle behind, the arrangement of which is frequently tiresome in the extreme.
With regard to Neckcloths, it is first indispensably necessary to premise, that previous to putting into execution the fashions here developed, the utmost attention should be paid to their washing, bleaching, and starching; the latter of which must generally be used in such proportion as to stiffen the cloth to the consistence of fine writing-paper. You may then confidently make your first folds as in the annexed plate; and then, with some slight practice and care, may execute the following ties at pleasure.