Artist/Rebel/Dandy: Men of Fashion

Edited by Kate Irvin and Laurie Anne Brewer. Yale Univ. in association with Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, $50 (208p) ISBN 978-0-300-19081-6
“If you look like a gentleman,” says jewelry designer and actor Waris Ahluwalia, “you might even end up behaving like one.” Ahluwalia is one of 15 men featured in this splendid chronicle of what designer Thom Browne aptly describes as “the truths behind [the] well-tailored, nearly mythical figure” of the dandy. The book accompanies a 2013 exhibition of the same name at the Rhode Island School of Design’s Museum of Art; two of its most informative essays on the dandy’s cultural history are by curators and editors Irvin and Brewer. Organized chronologically around short textual profiles and lush images of historical and contemporary dandies, including Beau Brummell, W.E.B. Du Bois, Andy Warhol, Malcolm McLaren, Motofumi Kogi, and John Waters, the evocative texts accompanying each photograph are composed by contributors including Patti Smith (on Baudelaire), Merlin Holland (writing on Oscar Wilde, Holland’s grandfather), historian Hugo Vickers (on Cecil Beaton), and others. Four longer essays form the visually rich collection’s textual center, with Barnard professor Monica Miller’s text on black dandyism and hip-hop as the highlight. A visual and cultural history that deftly juxtaposes beautifully reproduced illustrations and photographs of individuals, clothing, and textiles with engaging text, the book will appeal to fashion historians and aspiring dandies. 125 color and 20 b&w illus. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/13/2013
Release date: 05/01/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
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