Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Great Seducers - The DANDY.

Jean duJardin as George Valentin, in 'The Artist.'
This week in this series of posts, we consider the dandy and his methods of seduction. This is a especially apt because "The Artist" has just won several Oscars, including those for best movie and best actor. The film tells the story of silent screen star George Valentin and is loosely based on the life of Rudolph Valentino, who was very much a dandy. So with this timely link, let's take a look at what makes a dandy.
Rudolph Valention - in his role as 'The Sheikh.'
Dandies exist to please themselves, love beauty and like to be different. They don’t like to conform and yet first glance, aren’t threatening, but have the potential to thrill. Dandies are bold enough to 'be themselves', and never try too hard to get attention and yet always seem to attract it. Ultimately, a successful dandy invites imitation, such as Beau Brummell, and his immaculate tailoring.

"The fit of his [Brummell] gloves was achieved by entrusting their cut to two firms- one for the fingers, the other for the thumbs"
Harriett Wilson's Memoirs.
Beau Brummell - he made a career out of being a dandy.
Physical appearance is very important to the dandy, with an almost effeminate attention to detail. Their unconventional dress isn’t necessarily in shocking, but as with Valentino in the 1920's who used to wear bracelets, has unusual touches.
In his most famous movie, The Sheikh, Valentino reversed gender roles. He wore eye make up and flowing robes, whilst the heroine wore trousers. He appears confusingly feminine but his behaviour is masculine, which cinema audiences of the day found hugely exciting. Valentino understood this and reflected it in his off-screen life, presenting an exotic, almost feminine image, but could sweep women off their feet with his masculinity. His hallmark, on and off screen, was to woo as a woman might: slowly, attentively and savouring each moment, and yet when the time was ripe, close in with thrilling boldness.
What Valentino managed on a huge scale was the mass seduction of women via the cinema screen. When he died at the tragically young age of 31 (from surgical complications) America saw an unprecedented out pouring of emotion. Some 100,000 people filed past his coffin, many of the mourners hysterical and crazed with grief.
The Sheikh - Valention in his most successful role.
Another fundamental characteristic of the dandy is their impudence.

"Dandies please women by displeasing themselves"
Barbey d'Aurevilly.

Something of this aloofness was reflected by the consummate dandy, Oscar Wilde. Whilst attending the first performance of one of his plays, the audience appealled for Wilde to appear on stage. He made them wait and wait, and when he eventually distained to agree, he explained the delay thus:

"It may be bad manners to appear here smoking, but it is far worse to disturb me when I am smoking."
Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Wilde.

And finally, dandies live for pleasure, rather than work. They love to surround themselves with beautiful things and eat wonderful food. By making everything an aesthetic choice, when they deign turn their attention on a woman, she doesn’t stand a chance!

Dandies love to accessorize! (With thanks for


  1. Grace, I love the whole idea about being a Dandy. I just wouldn't want to be married to one.

  2. Most people see a Dandy more like a fop. That they were silly and stupid people more interested in clothes than anything else. Thanks for setting the record straight.

  3. I love how you put a cat at the end of each post. :)


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