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.
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."