The Only Authority She Listened to Was That of Her Tailor


Claude Cahun 1894-1954

The birds and bees have finished their business, the pollen has settled and the leaves are ever-so-leafy. That means that it’s summer and, as such, my first summer vacation is upon me in 24hours (yes, I said my FIRST summer vacation–that’s how I roll). Every aspect of life has its shadow, and summer vacation has its obligatory pre-flight flying freak out. As everyone knows, flying has become its own special circle of hell. The best way to deal with it? Avoid thinking about it! Or better yet, think about what you would wear on your own private jet! Yes. Your own private jet. Perfect.

Look no further than the ancestral style lineage of the female dandy. There’s been a lot flying around (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) about 2010 being the year of the female dandy–that special brand of lady that messes about with feminine androgyny and mind-blowing tailoring choices. Often accompanied by a long-nose superior glare, the style of the original female dandies, frankly, puts Lagerfeld’s knock-kneed beauties to shame.
Painter and pro dandy, Romaine Brooks (1874-1970) begins our exploration of the pre-2010 female dandy experience. Brooks was no stranger to the Parisian tailor shops, nor should she have been.

Self Portrait 1923–Popped collar, tailored coat, leather riding gloves. That is right.
Self Portrait 1915–Flowing Beach Wear. Obviously. 

Romaine Brooks, Una, Lady 1924–Two Dachshunds and a Monacle. LEARN IT.

Brooks’ portraits were all about challenging those pent up Victorians and their issues with women. Oh, silly Victorians. Amazing, but you can’t wear an ascot and a top hat–well, ever really since the advent of Renaissance Fairs–but certainly not in the 90 degree heat of an East Coast vacation.

For female dandy pointers befitting of a Cape Cod get away, look to that rich bitch with the steely, entrancing stare, Marchesa Luisa Casati (1881-1957). Diane Von Furstenberg and John Galliano are among a few who have found the inspiration for countless designs in the bizarre repertoire of the Marchesa. Karl Lagerfeld even did an entire ready-to-wear collection for Chanel filled with Casati-inspired couture for 2009/2010.

http://www.youtube.com/v/Mx7nq69dgmU&hl=en_US&fs=1&

If I’m flying in my own private jet in my head, I’m flying in the style of Marchesa Casati, hands down. I simply need to find a jet that has room for my two pet cheetahs.

Augustus Edwin John, The Marchesa Casati, 1919. She looks like an enigmatic cloud. That’s a good thing.
Baron Adolph de Meyer, Marquise Luisa Casati, 1912. Photo by a BARON! 

The line of female dandies prior to 2010 is nearly never ending. Each decade has had its year(s) of the female dandy. Someone should write a book. I should write a book. For now, however, I’ll wear the impenatrable gaze of Claude Cahun, gender-bending dandy and artist, as I search for a valise that would both make Romaine Brooks proud and fit into an ever-shrinking overhead compartment. I don’t think I’ll be able to sneak my cheetahs through the slack-jawed semi-authority of airport security, though. Sorry, Marchesa.

 

About Michael von Braithwaite

Does it look like I'd wear it on a boat, at an eccentric person's estate or accompanied by a peacock on a chain? Yeah, I'll probably buy that.

One comment

  1. everyone needs a cheetah. p.s. i am wearing a lovely summer weight electric blue cardigan…with elbow pads. yah!

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