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?

Let’s face it, Mother Nature had eons to work, and even then her results were uneven. In contrast, behold the hands of an artisan at work:

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Boutonniere was kind enough to donate one of its exquisite specimens to award Natty Adams with Dandy of the Year honors. Here’s a closeup of The Natster just moments after being informed he’s now in the exalted company of former DOTYs Lapo Elkann and Luca Rubinacci:

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Boutonniere will gladly have its silversmiths provide an inscription, though bear in mind that “A really well made buttonhole is the only link between art and nature” probably won’t fit.

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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

Dandy Wellington photographed by Rose Callahan in NYC on Jan 19, 2013Since 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.

As you’re surely well aware, ours is an age of extremes. Indeed the very word “extreme” is tirelessly used in product marketing. (To attempt to go beyond extreme, of course, brings about a conundrum: the only possibility is to begin making amplifiers that go up to 11.) And so it should come as no surprise that the dandies of 2013 are rather extreme. As we’ve said before, every era gets the dandies it deserves.

The cover boy of “I Am Dandy,” Massimilano Mocchia di Coggiola, became without a doubt the most widely disseminated personification of dandyism for the year. But as he was depicted any time the cover of the book was reproduced, we have not counted dear Massi.

A few more remarks about the tally. Each post on the web or in print was evaluated on a case-by-case basis. We only included Facebook photos if the shots were taken and selected by a reasonably neutral party — Bergdorf Goodman, for example. We did not count the photos of men who posted pictures of themselves on their own blogs or Facebook pages. Moreover, the recent CNN slideshow was not included as the men depicted were chosen by Adams, not by CNN.

And so, in the eyes of the media, the top face of dandyism for 2013 is Dandy Wellington, who’s on quite a roll, as “selfie” was also the Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year. Patrick McDonald and Michael Attree were not far behind.

Here’s the full tally, with the number at right referring to the total number of photos used by the media:

Dandy Wellington 10

Patrick McDonald 9

Michael “Atters” Attree 9

Nick Wooster 7

Matt Fox 7

Enrique Crame lll 6

Nick Sullivan 6

Mr. Burton 6

Dr Keith Churchwell 5

Fyodor Pavlov 5

Barima 4

Zack MacLeod Pinsent 4

Domenico Spano 4

Cator Sparks 4

Ray Frensham 4

Michael R. Davis 4

Tony Sylvester 4

Gay Talese 3

Kevin Wang 3

Robert E. Bryan 3

Ignacio Quiles 3

Andrew Yamato 3

Dickon Edwards 3

Doran Wittelsbach 3

Winston Chesterfield 2

Ed Hayes 2

James Sherwood 2

Robert W. Richards 2

Michael Andrews 2

Peter McGough 2

Dr. Andre Churchwell 1

Sean Crowley 1

David Zyla 1

Thomas Crowley 1

Sven Schneider 1

Hamish Bowles 1

David Carter 1

Michael Haar 1

Guy Hills 1

Robin Dutt 1

Lord Whimsy 1

Christian Chensvold 1 (bribed)

G. Bruce Boyer 0

Of course we remain skeptical, if not despondent or even slightly dyspeptic, at the thought of how our great fraternity of dandyism now resonates in the mind of the public, whose brains have been rotted by Hollywood. Cover boy Massi, for example, surely makes John Q. Public think of post-transformation Dirk Bogarde in “Death In Venice:”

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Michael Atters, on the other hand, conjures up this actor:

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Patrick McDonald can’t help but make one think of…

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And then there’s Welly:

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Put them all together, and the general impression of dandyism is that of an overbudgeted B movie.

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Year Of The Tango’s 100th Anniversary

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Nineteen-thirteen was the year the tango conquered fashionable society, rising from its seedy origins in the brothels of Buenos Aires. On assignment for The Rake, D.net founder Christian Chensvold meditates on this most masculine of social dances. Click here for a PDF of the story.

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