Michael Mattis, Dandy Of The Year 2014

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This year Dandyism.net bears the sad honor of awarding its first posthumous title of Dandy Of The Year to the late Michael Mattis, who died suddenly this year at the age of 49.

It was exactly 20 years ago that I first met Michael, and it was the subject of dandyism that had brought us together. After spending his twenties as a cabaret host, ranch hand, vintage clothing dealer, and all the other dilletante diversions listed in his bio, he was finishing college at the ripe age of 30 and had written an article on modern day dandy-decadent retro-eccentrics for the literary magazine of San Francisco State.

I managed to find it, and it was the first time I’d ever come across someone else interested in the topic of dandyism. I tracked Michael down, and although we would both end up working in the Internet industry, in 1995 we began an enthusiastic epistolary friendship sending each other clippings, discussing Tom Wolfe and Beau Brummell, and sealing our letters with wax.

The first time we met he was dressed casually and inconspicuously, probably considering it gauche to get dolled up to meet a man you’ve been corresponding with about dandyism. He was never much of a clothes horse, and neither invested heavily nor fussed over his attire. But he took a natural enjoyment in wearing clothes, and I remember the first night we went out on the town together, I think to hear the band Lavay Smith & Her Red-Hot Skillet-Lickers at the Cafe du Nord, where Michael seemed to know all the retro gals and corset-designers in the place. Beforehand he needed to change, and with mild embarassment led me to what was one of the most modest dwellings I’ve ever seen, and which I recall him referring to as “the box.” Later, as he commanded increasingly obscene salaries as a “digital content strategist” (whatever that is, as he liked to say), his standards naturally rose in accord.

But that night in a matter of minutes he clawed through his unkempt surroundings and threw on a suit and tie and topped it with a hat as we bolted out the door, and I remember practically exclaiming as we hustled down the dark, empty streets that he looked absolutely smashing. Rather like, dare I say it, a tramp aesthete.

Which leads us to Michael’s critical writings for Dandyism.net. As someone who’d done wacky California things like go to Dickens Faires and costume balls, take up fencing and play croquet in the park, he’d been around enough historic re-enactors to know that that should never be mistakenly for dandyism. His role was not that of style arbiter but of critic, a dandyologist, and his interest in the topic never waned throughout his life.

Dandy discourse, at least on the Internet, lost a bright light the night his life was unexpectedly extinguished. Wherever he is, I’m sure there are both angels and devils, and that Michael’s enjoying strong drinks and lively conversation with both groups.

Michael, you’re Dandy Of The Year for 2014, but you’ll always be my first and best confrere in the brotherhood of dandyism. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

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Age Of Decade-nce: Dandyism.net’s 10-Year Anniversary

diabolicalPrecisely one decade ago, while you, dear reader, were in the laundry room starching your cravat, Christian Chensvold unfurled this site for all the world to see, the first cog in what would become the behemoth known as Stickpin Media. Its signature feature was white text on a black background. That would soon change. The site was self-consciously refined. Huysmans said that he wrote “A Rebours” for 12 readers. Chenners had a similarly exclusive vision for D.net. Three years later, he reached that goal.

It is often said that the best way to judge a man is by his enemies. In Chenners’ case, it is the only way. Over the years he has encountered the enmity of the illustrator finally formerly known as Lord Whimsy, the count formerly known as Andrea Sperelli, the Talk Ivy forum at Film Noir Buff, and philistines everywhere. I am proud to say that throughout these feuds I have stood shoulder to shoulder with Chenners with my back turned.

Indeed I have been part of D.net almost since the beginning, as member number three on the now-defunct forum (all dandy eras must come to an end). This has been a sad year as we lost member number two, Michael Mattis, who held this site together while Chenners and I were off on sundry French leaves. Michael’s passing revealed something about this site. The week after his death, some 20 of us gathered in a telephone conference to celebrate Michael’s life with a toast. We called in from Europe, North America, and Australia. We ranged in age from our twenties to our sixties. Some of us knew Michael for decades, while others of us never met him. The tribute was a testament, of course, to Michael’s generous spirit, sparkling humor, culture and joie de vivre.

But that fact is that most of us would not have known Michael, and we certainly would not have known each other, if it weren’t for this site. Dandyism.net brought us together that night. So perhaps this site, dedicated to the frivolous, intentionally superficial, may be something important.

Dandyism, Ellen Moers wrote, has “the power to fascinate, to puzzle, to travel, to persist.”

So does Dandyism.net, which is not dead, but merely sleepeth.

Congratulations, Christian: you may have created something bigger than even you realize. — NICK WILLARD

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Farewell To The Sophistocrat: Michael Mattis, 1964-2014

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Michael Mattis, who has been a part of Dandyism.net since its very beginning in 2004, died suddenly this weekend in his sleep. He was 49 years old.

He first met Dandyism.net founder Christian Chensvold 20 years ago when he wrote a piece on dandies for his college literary magazine, and Chensvold contacted him in light of the mutual interest.

Tributes are currently going up on Dandyism.net’s Facebook page, as well as Michael’s own. Our own Nick Willard had this to say when he heard the news:

Words fail to express my shock & sorrow.  We just exchanged e-mails this week, catching up with each other.  He shared how he was head over heels over his new woman & how much he loved her.  It seemed that he was at the dawn of the next stage of his life, not at the sunset.

Though he had little tolerance for foolishness, Michael was a raconteur and bon vivant by temperament who above all enjoyed meeting interesting people and swapping stories with them. He has written some of the most insightful pieces for Dandyism.net, under the fitting column heading “The Sophistocrat,” which can be accessed in the menu column at right.

He’s captured above in a photo by Rose Callahan.

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A Really Well Made Buttonhole

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In one of Oscar Wilde’s paradoxical quips, he avers that a really well made buttonhole is the only link between art and nature.

He was right about most things, and we suspect that he — along with all the other decadent dandies — would approve of the new London-based startup Boutonniere, which handcrafts flowers for your lapel made of porcelain and either silver or polished stainless steel. For why let nature have the last word on floral accessories, when man’s artistic vision is so clearly superior? (more…)

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Dandy Of The Year 2013: Nathaniel Adams

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For services rendered to the understanding and misunderstanding of dandyism, as well as perpetually cutting a dashing figure, Dandyism.net is pleased to award Nathaniel Adams the distinguished title of Dandy of the Year 2013. (more…)

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The Faces Of Dandyism 2013

Since the release of Callahan & Adams’ “I Am Dandy,” D.net has assiduously followed the media coverage, shining our diabolical monocle on the images chosen to accompany posts, articles and book reviews.

We are self-pleased to unveil a final tally of the top faces of dandyism for 2013. (more…)

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