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April 21, 2006

New English Dandy

"Dandyism is the last vestige of a sartorial spirituality. It is a secular monastery, but with essential accessories."
- Robert Dutt

Alice Cicolini considers a well-groomed, Flea-ish masculinity in The New English Dandy. This is not entirely new ground for Cicolini. Her research on British underwear for the British Council revealed a country "paradoxically liberated by its boundaries." Cicolini claims England's uniforms and conformity are offset by "subtle subversion" as a hallmark of the nation's dress sense. Her work on English dandies takes the observation in a new direction. She argues the underlying motive for subversion is on the way out.

(The) irony is fading, argues Cicolini, formerly of the British Council in London, who presents the modern dandy as the product of a "renaissance" in British menswear and, more important, of an age in which we’re rich, materialistic, and just fine with it, thank you. To the dandy, looking good is a worthy, even intellectual, pursuit.

Cicolini's dandy classification owes a debt to her earlier work with the Victoria & Albert's Christopher Breward. 21st Century Dandy broke masculinity into six major categories: The Gentleman, Hoxton Dandy, Terrace Casual, Neo-Modernist, Celebrity Tailor and New British. The New English Dandy mixes and matches into six slightly new and improved categories.

1 'Neo-Modernist' draws on established sartorial traditions but subverts them through materials, form and function;
2 'Terrace Casual' positions country and leisure style in the urban environment;
3 'Celebrity Tailor' focuses on the art of cut and the mastery of individual tailors;
4 'East End Flaneur' is rooted in a flamboyant urban camouflage and is the ultimate expression of street style;
5 'The Gentleman' shows an apparent effortlessness of dress and attention to detail;
6 'New Briton' re-evaluates what a British look really means.

In the absence of a celebrity tailor I am working on 'Annex Flaneur.' The Flea: So far from Bond Street. So close to Winners.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at April 21, 2006 08:07 AM

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