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Posts Tagged ‘Beau Brummell’

IMG_0292One more London story! On my visit last October, I set out to find the Beau Brummell statue. Erected in 2002 the statue stands just outside Piccadilly Arcade on Jermyn Street.

It’s not easy to find. But we did and much to my surprise we also found a couple of bums hanging at the feet of Mr. Brummell. I suspect they were not not there to pay homage. Ha! I doubt they had any idea who this man was or his importance in fashion history.

George Bryan “Beau” Brummell (1778-1840) was London born and a general man-about-town with royal connections. He was known for gambling and unusual sartorial choices. In the British Regency period (1811-1820) the trends for aristocratic gentlemen were embroidered coats and waistcoats (Brit speak for vests), knee breeches, white stockings and shoes with gem encrusted buckles. They sported tall wigs, white powder makeup with red stain in their lips and fragrance.

It was too much for Mr. Brummell who pushed back with a simply tailored “suit” the first of its kind – a white linen shirt underneath a tan waistcoat, black coat with tails, fitted pantaloons paired with tall boots, a cravat (predecessor to the tie), and top hat. No wigs, no makeup and most of all no scent! He believed in bathing everyday, which was not the done thing at the time.

The story goes that it took him several hours to dress each morning and men would line up outside his flat in Mayfair hoping to secure a place inside to watch how he did it. Among the admirers was the Prince Regent, later to become King George IV.

He had quite a lasting influence on men’s attire.

I’m a fan of Mr. Brummell’s for his contribution to fashion but also, he was an interesting character with high style standards and a quick wit. I was more than a little annoyed by these two men just sitting with no intent to leave, even after noticing my photo taking. But I after awhile I began to enjoy the irony and humor of the dapper dandy standing confident and tall over a couple of shoddy fellas. I imagined him poking his walking stick at one guy and offering a nice swift kick to the other. Indeed, at the feet of Mr. Brummell is exactly where these two belong.

Have I piqued your interest in Brummell? I recommend the biopic called Beau Brummell: The Charming Man (2006).

And/or the biography by Ian Kelly, Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Dandy (Hodder & Stoughton).

 

 

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51wtSkv9QhL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_A Dandy is heroically consecrated to this one object; the wearing of clothes wisely and well. So that others dress to live, he lives to dress. 

– Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Scottish historian and novelist.

This quote is from Carlyle’s novel Sartor Resartus (The Tailor Re-tailored) published in 1836, but I found it in Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Man of Style by Ian Kelly.

Beau (aka George) Brummell was the first Dandy, having turned men’s fashions of the late 18th century upside down. He rejected the trendy wig, powdered face, and ruffled shirt and instead strut about in tight beige jodhpurs-like-slacks, boots, and tailored blazers in black. Indeed he is credited with creating the first suit for men. He bathed regularly (unheard of at the time) and went without fragrance. The Prince Regent was influenced by Brummell as were most of London’s aristocrats. What he did and how he dressed was of such interest that men would arrive at his front door in the early mornings asking to watch him dress, which took two hours. He was a wealthy young man with a gift for witty banter and luck at the gambling table. Until it all flitted away.

Brummell’s is a fascinating story and good read for those quiet moments during the holiday season. We do get some of those, right?

 

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