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We Are Dandy: The Elegant Gentleman Around The World By Rose Callahan and Nathaniel Adams

This fascinating and luxurious book from Gestalten is for those passionate about vintage, culture, nostalgia and above all, sustainability. Make no mistake, every gentleman in this book treasures the garments that they have lovingly – indeed obsessively – sourced, repaired and taken care of. From the moneyed districts of America and Europe to the poorest districts of Africa, there are cohorts of gentlemen who know that clothes make the man. For some, it is the influence of their fathers or grandfathers that were the touchstone of their conversion to dandyism. For others it was that elusive notion of glamour on the part of their mothers and grandmothers that gave them the taste for creating their own unique dandy style. And the dandys here are all unique: they have rejected the quotidian diktats of modern fast fashion and masculinity and struck out on their own – often in the face of scorn from their families and peers, financial privation and the pressure to ‘fit in’.

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John Carlos Deluna aka Barrio Dandy photographed by Rose Callahan in Los Angeles on Feb 25, 2014
The Barrio Dandy, Photography by Rose Callahan, from We are Dandy, Copyright Gestalten 2016.
John Carlos Deluna aka Barrio Dandy photographed by Rose Callahan in Los Angeles on Feb 25, 2014
The Barrio Dandy, Photography by Rose Callahan, from We are Dandy, Copyright Gestalten 2016.

Many of the gentlemen here recount fascinating details and thoughts from their own journeys through dandyism. A Japanese Dandy Mr Makato Iida muses that Japanese culture is one of forgetting, that is, an ability to reinvent cultural norms in such a way as to fit in, a concept he rejects; In South Africa, the phenomenon of ‘skhothane’ whereby youths buy designer clothes they can’t afford and then burn them in a ritual, seems like the most extraordinary comment on the free market and capitalism and how it impacts those in the third world. It was fascinating to see the dandies in their contexts, surrounded by objects and art that they have assiduously accumulated. Some are very minimal in their approach, always red brogues, for example; others are flamboyant and theatrical, creating their own perfect worlds in tiny apartments. One dandy has combined samurai garb and the tea ceremony into his own particular expression. One can certainly forget any traditional notion of dandyism being exclusively about tweeds, leather brogues and a particular length of trouser – although there are many who do espouse those ‘rules’.

Aymeric Bergada Du Cadet photographed by Rose Callahan in Paris on Jan 27, 2016
Mr Aymeric Bergada Du Cadet, Photography by Rose Callahan, from We are Dandy, Copyright Gestalten 2016.
Takanori Nakamura photographed by Rose Callahan in NYC on June 17, 2016
Mr Takanori Nakamura, Photography by Rose Callahan, from We are Dandy, Copyright Gestalten 2016
Sthembiso Mngadi photographed by Rose Callahan in Johannesburg on June 7, 2016
Mr Sthembiso Mngadi, Photography by Rose Callahan, from We are Dandy, Copyright Gestalten 2016.
Sthembiso Mngadi photographed by Rose Callahan in Johannesburg on June 7, 2016
Mr Sthembiso Mngadi, Photography by Rose Callahan, from We are Dandy, Copyright Gestalten 2016.

It was ultimately heartening to see how many dandies are mentors and father figures to younger people in their communities. A gentleman who dresses well in the shanty towns of Soweto is a figure of respect, who can use the power of his appearance to enfranchise others. I wonder if it isn’t also linked to expressions of masculinity: old-school notions of respectability reinvented for the new age, in a way that would imply a liberation from outdated adherences to class and are more about the a new democracy of ideas in the Internet age. Many gentlemen cited the influence of Pitti Uomo and myriad dandy blogs. The dandies are connected now as never before. SEEN predicts that this excellent and well-researched book by Rose Callahan and Nathaniel Adams will become a design and history textbook for the dandies of the future, and everyone who is fascinated by the history of fashion.

Brian Lehang photographed by Rose Callahan on Mandela Bridge, Johannesburg on June 7, 2016
Mr Defustel Ndjoko, Photography by Rose Callahan, from We are Dandy, Copyright Gestalten 2016.
George Skeggs photographed by Rose Callahan in London on Jan 20, 2016
Mr George Skeggs, Photography by Rose Callahan, from We are Dandy, Copyright Gestalten 2016.
George Skeggs photographed by Rose Callahan in London on Jan 20, 2016
Mr George Skeggs, Photography by Rose Callahan, from We are Dandy, Copyright Gestalten 2016.
Makoto Iida photographed by Rose Callahan in Tokyo (Asakusa, Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo Hotarudo store) on April 5, 2016
Mr Makato Iida, Photography by Rose Callahan, from We are Dandy, Copyright Gestalten 2016.

We Are Dandy, edited and published by Gestalten.

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