When I am Dandy was published in 2013 (yours truly was honored to be included), most American men were scratching their head asking, ‘WTF is a Dandy?”. These days you can hardly get away from the term!
For the record, a Dandy is a man unduly devoted to style, neatness, and fashion in dress and appearance. If you really want to go deep listen to this NPR segment about Yankee Doodle Dandy.
We see the term bandied about all over the menswear (and even womenswear – can we please just own this one ladies?) worlds. There are nearly 1 million #Dandy tags on Instagram and there have been museum shows from RISD in Rhode Island to the Petit Palais in Paris dedicated to them.
Clearly it is a huge, glorious backlash to the ill fitting, sweatshirt culture men have stewed in for so long and we are very glad to see it alive and well (although enough with the selfies vain men!).
Surely photographer Rose Callahan and writer Nathaniel “Natty” Adams struck a fine silk cord when they published their first book so it is with much pleasure that we find they have worked so hard to publish a second tome.
As they explained to us, “From America to Africa to Asia, dandyism is a way of life. It is fashion in the best sense, self-esteem through style. And in every country, it takes a unique form as dandies draw on the local context and fashion culture to shape their looks. We are Dandy throws open the doors of the wardrobe and explores the dandy as a global phenomenon. With texts as witty as the subjects are stylish, the book pokes between the folds to let us know these exceptional individuals. For them, their dandy fashion is more than a trend or a phase, it is who they are, the outer expression of their inner selves.”
You could really spend hours on each page, observing every waxed whisker combed into place, the perfect fold of a scarf and the tie of a tassel. What is refreshing about this book compared to the last is how far they flew to find more Dandies. While Tokyo may be expected to stock quite a few flamboyant gents, Africa was even more fascinating. Rose and Natty jetted to Johannesburg where the group met some key players thanks to the help of Daniele Tamagni, author of Gentleman of Bacongo, and Shantrelle Patrice Lewis, who is behind the Dandy Lion project about global black dandyism.
What was so fascinating was the rise of Instagram since the last book only four years ago. Now ‘influencers’ and ‘tastemakers’ were clamoring to be in the book but the authors were careful. You need to speak the speak more than just walk the walk. As Natty explained, “Dandies often describe the joy of finding rare items in unlikely places; these men were our hidden gems, practicing their dandyism for its own pleasurable sake, and — as I mentioned in the introduction to the first book — doing it even when nobody is looking.”
We Are Dandy can be purchased here.
Photography by Rose Callahan, from We are Dandy, Copyright Gestalten 2016