preCAMP: Dandyism

One should either be a work of Art, or wear a work of Art” Oscar Wilde

A dandy (also known as a beau, gallant or flamboyant person) is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies. Historically, especially in late 18th- and early 19th-century Britain, a dandy, who was self-made, often strove to imitate an aristocratic style of life despite coming from a middle-class background.

Given these connotations, dandyism can be seen as a political protestation against the rise of egalitarian principles — often including nostalgic adherence to feudal or pre-industrial values, such as the ideals of “the perfect gentleman” or “the autonomous aristocrat”.

Though previous manifestations, of Alcibiades, and of the petit-maître and the muscadin have been noted by John C. Prevost, the modern practice of dandyism first appeared in the revolutionary 1790s, both in London and in Paris. The dandy cultivated skeptical reserve, yet to such extremes that the novelist George Meredith, himself no dandy, once defined “cynicism” as “intellectual dandyism”; nevertheless, the Scarlet Pimpernel is one of the great dandies of literature. Some took a more benign view; Thomas Carlyle in his book Sartor Resartus, wrote that a dandy was no more than “a clothes-wearing man”.

Charles Baudelaire, in the later, “metaphysical,” phase of dandyism defined the dandy as one who elevates æsthetics to a living religion, that the dandy’s mere existence reproaches the responsible citizen of the middle class: “Dandyism in certain respects comes close to spirituality and to stoicism” and “These beings have no other status, but that of cultivating the idea of beauty in their own persons, of satisfying their passions, of feeling and thinking …. Contrary to what many thoughtless people seem to believe, dandyism is not even an excessive delight in clothes and material elegance. For the perfect dandy, these things are no more than the symbol of the aristocratic superiority of his mind.”

The word dandy first appears in a Scottish border ballad, circa 1780, but probably without its more recent meaning. The original, full form of ‘dandy’ may have been jack-a-dandy. It was a vogue word during the Napoleonic Wars. In that contemporary slang, ‘a dandy’ was differentiated from ‘a fop’ in that the dandy’s dress was more refined and sober than the fop’s.

In the 21st century, the word “dandy” is a jocular, often sarcastic adjective meaning “fine” or “great”, while “a dandy” refers to a well-groomed, well-dressed, and self-absorbed man.

 

The gilded 1890s provided many suitably sheltered settings for dandyism. The poets Algernon Swinburne and Oscar Wilde, Walter Pater, the American artist James McNeill Whistler, Joris-Karl Huysmans, and Max Beerbohm were dandies of the period, as was Robert de Montesquiou — Marcel Proust’s inspiration for the Baron de Charlus; in Italy, Gabriele d’Annunzio and Carlo Bugatti exemplified the artistic bohemian dandyism of the fin de siecle.

The 20th century has been impatient with dandyism: the Prince of Wales, briefly Edward VIII was a dandy; it did not increase his public appeal. Nevertheless George Walden, in the essay Who’s a Dandy?, identifies Noël Coward, Andy Warhol, and Quentin Crisp as modern dandies.

In Japan, dandyism became a fashion subculture during the late 1990s.

The artist, writer, and hedonist Sebastian Horsley identifies himself as a dandy, and discusses the subject at length in his biography.

 

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New Romantic CAMP!

New Romantic was a short- lived fashion and music movement that occurred primarily in the United Kingdom and Ireland during the very early 1980s. It has seen a revival as a gay motif in the 2000s.

Typical musical and stylistic proponents of the New Romantic movement were Depeche Mode, Spandau Ballet, Visage, Japan, Ultravox, Adam & The Ants, Culture Club, Duran Duran, Classix Nouveaux.

The movement’s genesis took place largely through clubs such as Billy’s in Dean Street, London, which ran David Bowie and Roxy Music nights in the aftermath of punk. This evolved into the highly successful and elitist Blitz Club in Great Queen Street, and later Hell, which were hosted by Steve Strange who was also the doorman and Rusty Egan who was the DJ. Those two, together with Billy Currie and Midge Ure (both from Ultravox) formed the band Visage. Some bands classified as New Romantic were glam rock bands in the 1970s such as Japan and Ultravox and both underwent stylistic changes to their look. However they always had an experimental, arty and electronic side to their songs influenced by krautrock as well as Bowie and Roxy Music which was largely not present in guitar-based early 70s glam bands. This electronic element would adapt with the outbreak of and after punk and would largely merge or work in conjunction with the New Wave label, giving a musical base for New Romanticism.

Boy George was the cloakroom attendant who was sacked by Steve Strange for stealing money from a customer’s purse. Marilyn also worked as a cloakroom attendant, doing impersonations of Marilyn Monroe. The club spawned a hundred suburban spin-offs in, around and outside London, among which were Croc’s in Rayleigh, Essex, and The Regency in Chadwell Heath, where Depeche Mode and Culture Club had their debut gigs as fledgling bands.

CAMPmusic: big in Japan

Visual Kei refers to a movement among Japanese musicians, that is characterized by the use of eccentric, sometimes flamboyant looks. This usually involves striking make-up, unusual hair styles and elaborate costumes, often, but not always, coupled with androgynous aesthetics.

Some sources state that Visual Kei refers to a music genre, or to a sub-genre of J-rock (a term referring to Japanese rock in general), with its own particular sound, related to glam-rock, punk and metal. However most insider sources state that Visual Kei’s unique clothing and make-up fashions, and participation in the related sub-culture, is equally as important as the sound of the music itself in the use of the term as while similarities can be drawn between some bands; most are from widely different genres including but not limited to Pop, heavy metal, power metal, classical, rap and electronic.

 

Visual Kei emerged in the late 1980s, pioneered by the band X Japan, along with others such as D’erlanger and Color, who are regarded as influencing the fashion and music associated with Visual Kei bands. X Japan’s drummer Yoshiki Hayashi used the term to describe the band’s slogan “Psychedelic Violence Crime of Visual Shock”.

In the mid 1990s, Visual Kei received an increase in popularity throughout Japan, when album sales from Visual Kei bands started to reach record numbers. The most notable bands to achieve success during this period included, X Japan, Glay, Luna Sea, and L’Arc-en-Ciel, however a drastic change in their appearance accompanied their success.

During the same period, bands such as Kuroyume, Malice Mizer, and Penicillin, gained mainstream awareness, although they were not as commercially successful.

By 1999, mainstream popularity in Visual Kei was declining, X Japan had disbanded, and the death of lead guitarist Hideto Matsumoto in 1998 had denied fans a possible reunion. It was not long before Luna Sea decided to disband in the year 2000, and L’Arc-en-Ciel went on a hiatus the same year.

In 2007 the genre has been revitalized, as Luna Sea performed a one-off performance, and X Japan reunited for a new single and a world tour. With these developments, Visual Kei bands enjoyed a boost in public awareness, described by the media as “Neo-Visual Kei”.