There’s a danger in our latter-day dandy syncretism: the rolling of anyone who dresses in flashy or anachronistic jackets and sportcoats into a loaf of the indigestible and incoherent. By its title, Dandysmesacknowledges various different types of dandies, and different conceptions of the dandy, all seen through the prism of Beau Brummell, the putative dandy zero.
Well, actually, the hat that insufferable pretentious know-it-all young men have made infamous is the trilby, a hat with a shorter crown than a fedora and, crucially, a much narrower brim. You know the type (of hat and of man) – possibly neckbearded, probably brings his own vinegar to brunches to force everyone to drink shrubs, so quick to mansplain: to volunteer his often unfounded knowledge of matters wide and far.
Today price is another marketing tool. We’re still told to think otherwise, thanks to regular posts and articles that helpfully compare the differences between, say, a $500 and a $2,000 leather jacket. Those articles make price out to be the proxy for quality, with all the differences between the two presumed to indicate lower quality in the cheaper version and higher in the dearer. Price does not mean quality, as those comparisons suggest. And $500 is a huge amount of money for a piece of clothing to almost all of us.
For some reason, recent years have seen a surge of discussion of how people could be so gullible they believed the obvious distortions of so-called reality TV shows and their stars. If my memory serves me correctly, I, too, was that credulous several decades ago. I was so disappointed to discover that Kitchen Stadium was not a real place in Japan, and that Takeshi Kaga was not an eccentric millionaire obsessed with discovering the most refined experiences for his jaded palate, at least those which could be prepared within an hour by a stable of specialized iron men of cooking. I suspect he was not even a real chairman of any organization.
His appearance, for the last forty years of his life, was alien, mannered, armored by various styles of outfit that were less uniforms than the carapace of some unique extraterrestrial being. It was this persona, behind gently waving fans, knuckle-length gloves, heavy-looking Chrome Hearts jewelry, that made him such a memorable media figure. An unforgettable bowsprit, rather than figurehead, for the many different fashion houses he designed for – at times creating collections simultaneously for Chanel, Fendi, Chloé and his own Lagerfeld label, among others.