Earlier today, I received a unexpected Fedex delivery, and when I opened the package I was positively surprised to see a copy of Rose Callahan’s & Nathaniel Adams’ book I am Dandy: The Return of the Elegant Gentleman. I have followed this project very closely; I have always admired Rose’s fabulous photos at The Dandy Portraits since the inception of the blog.
Filled with stunning portraits of over 50 dandies from almost every continent, Natty understands how to highlight the very unique personalities and styles of these individuals while not losing sight of the common denominator: clothes & aesthetics. Personally, I think they did an outstanding job of introducing the reader to the manifold facets of style in the same way I have been trying to do with our series Gentlemen of Style.
The presentation of the various gentlemen listed in the book by German publisher Gestalten doesn’t seem to follow a particular order. It begins with Sean Crowley, the man we wrote about recently, and features musicians, artists, lawyers (such as Ed Hayes, who I introduced to Rose), doctors, designers editors, stylists, and bohemians as well as writers and bloggers. Some of them have already been introduced in past Dandy Portraits, while others are entirely new to me. In any case, the picture selection in combination with the insightful text really explains the style of each dandy in a very personable manner.
Each man has his very own history and take on things, covered in just a few paragraphs to several pages. Some men are very slim and delicate while others are bold, tattooed and bearded; some wear frock coats, make-up and spats, while others just draw inspiration from the past and adapt it to the modern day. Regardless, all of these characters are inspirational and while there are a number of pieces shown that I would not wear, I adore most of them. For example, the ring collection and Art Deco furniture of Mr. Robert E. Bryan is marvelous, the suit fabrics of Gay Talese, the Churchwell bros. and Domenico Spano have amazing depth and texture, and Tony Sylvester’s white peacocks with mini bow ties simply incredible!
One of the aspects I really like about the photography is that most of them were taken in the subject’s stylish homes, clubs or some other such interesting location. Happily, this lets us see much more than just the clothing their wearing, such as photos, decorations, moiré wallpaper, stucco, memorabilia, rugs, closets, collections and so forth, providing more inspiration than you might expect. I would have been interested to know where many of these pieces came from, including the clothes, but that might be a subject for another book!
Altogether I think it is a remarkable coffee table book and I am sure I will reference it many times in the future. If I’d have to name two things I’d improve then it is:
- The addition of details and history of the clothes people are wearing
- More international balance of characters
Personally, I always think it is valuable to learn who tailored a suit, or what makes a piece so special in terms of cut, weave, color, origin etc. It would have been great to learn about the history of some of the garments and shoes of the individuals as well as their accessories.
Both authors are based in New York, and hence it does not come as a surprise that most characters featured are based in the US. During her trips to Paris and London, Rose and Natty were able to portrait a number of people from across the pond such as Nick Foulkes, Massimiliano Mocchia di Coggiola, James Sherwood, Marc Guyot, Hugo Jacomet, Ray Frensham and Winston Chesterfield but as a whole there are very few non-English Europeans (think of people like Giancarlo Maresca, Michael Alden or Herbert Stricker), Africans (just think of the Dandies of Brazzaville), Australians or Asian dandies. So, let’s hope this book turns out to be such a roaring success that Rose and Natty can travel the rest of the globe in the pursuit of capturing the Dandies of the World for a second book.
Ironically, most men in the book would not refer to themselves as dandy, yet the publisher insisted on the title I am Dandy – I guess they hope to sell more books that way. At the end of the day, I am happy to add this book to my collection!
Now, order your copy – and I am certain you will enjoy it immensely. If you happen to glance at page 236, you may even find a familiar face ;-).
Photographs by Rose Callahan from I am Dandy, Copyright Gestalten 2013
A List of the 59 dandies:
|FIRST NAME||LAST NAME|
|VICTOR ALLEN||CRAWFORD III|
|MASSIMILIANO||MOCCHIA DI COGGIOLA|