Sunday, 8 February 2009

Beau Brummel – the first dandy

Lord Bassington-Bassington was just informed by his Mullah that fashion blogs are the way to go these days. Writing about fashion brings both hits and advertising money, he claims. This sounds swell, of course, if it weren’t for one small problem: Lord Bassington-Bassington has very little interest in fashion. Though he’ll readily admit to having a certain interest in style, but that is a very different thing from fashion.

So perhaps a post about dandyism might be some sort of compromise.

Lord Bassington-Bassington has never considered himself a dandy, and is quite happy with that. To claim to be a dandy, for him, is as constrictive as claiming to be a Goth or a member of some other subculture. Suddenly you’re trapped in an image, a set of rules, an ideology, when all you wanted was to have fun and look sharp.

But just as not being a Goth doesn’t stop His Lordship appreciating Gothic music or ladies in corsets, he can get a lot of enjoyment from the study of dandyism, its history and philosophy.

So where better to go than where it all started – with Beau Brummel, widely considered to be the first dandy (and inventor of modern men’s style).

In 2006, BBC Four commissioned a TV film based on the pivotal period of Beau Brummel’s life, Beau Brummell: This Charming Man. An excerpt can be seen below, and hopefully this short taste will make anyone interested in dandyism try to get hold of the full film.

(The radical gentleman who appears towards the end of the scene is none other than Lord Byron).

Many common perceptions of Brummel seem to be based on misunderstandings and myths. In the short film below, George S. Stuart sets the record straight on these issues, and gives a potted history of Brummel’s life.


  1. Aaah... the dandy, an extinct race of people I'm afraid. Long gone are the days when style was commonplace.

    The fop and the dandy stands as a testament to the fact that everything was much better in the old days.

    Except for the lack of antibiotics and in door plumbing that is.

    As for the cameo by Lord Byron, it reminds me that some of my writing on that poet, his relationship to the luddites and the future of his daughter probably should see the light of day soon.

  2. Du må fjerne og legge inn Skepsis-bloggen på ny i bloglisten din. Feeden har endret adresse og de skjønner det ikke på noen annen måte.

    Og Dronten er død. Men dodofuglen lever.

  3. What is the word for a female dandy?

  4. I've always assumed that dandyism is a male preserve, as taking an interest in one's appearance is considered normal for women. But the Wikipedia article on dandyism ( has an interesting section about female dandies. Words such as dandyess, dandizette and quaintrelle are used, though with different meanings.