Eye For Elegance

jd-lead.jpgSince Dandyism.net’s beginnings, we’ve shamelessly raided the oeuvre of American artist J.C. Leyendecker to illustrate our posts. In the early days, before our scowling mascot was created, we used a Leyendecker image next to the site’s logo. Currently, we use Leyendeckers to illustrate the notorious “How Dandy Are You?” quiz, as well as the “Test of Dandy Knowledge.”

We’ve always seen in Leyendecker’s images a singular sartorial elegance, patrician demeanor, a certain frostiness, and a rock-solid masculinity. Naturally it took a gay man to create such images.

Now we can finally post Leyendecker images without shame, thanks to a nihil obstat from the publisher of the new book “J.C. Leyendecker,” by Laurence and Judy Cutler.

It all came about as a result of D.net webmaster Christian Chensvold’s profile of the artist for the online magazine at RalphLauren.com. Writes Chenners:

In 1905, Leyendecker created his most memorable legacy, leaping from the purely visual to the powerfully symbolic. In an age when detachable shirt collars were de rigeur, Leyendecker’s Arrow Collar Man—a mascot for the menswear company Cluett, Peabody & Co.—became what Cutler calls the first real advertising campaign and produced the first sex symbol of either gender.

In a campaign lasting twenty-five years, Leyendecker portrayed an archetypal American masculinity that was equal parts football hero and urbane man-about-town. Whether clutching a briar pipe or guiding a winsome debutante across the dance floor, the Arrow Collar Man embodied a vision of American manhood that was both rugged and refined—every woman’s dream. “At one point,” says Cutler, “Leyendecker’s Arrow Collar Man got more fan mail than Rudolph Valentino.”

Below are a few more images from the artist, all courtesy of Abrams Books, via American Illustration Gallery, NYC.







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8 Responses to “Eye For Elegance”

  1. Erastes Says:

    Oh very very delicious.

    I can almost caption number 3. “Don’t wrap him, I’ll take him as he is.”

    Thanks for posting these.

  2. RKM Says:

    Christian wrote:

    “Naturally it took a gay man to create such images.”

    Yes, there might be one or two subliminal messages in the last picture with the golf club and pipe.

  3. Constantine Says:

    “high hats and arrowed collars… white spats and lotsa dollars…”

    Any stories behind the faces I wonder? Some of the same faces recur from picture to picture.

    Yes, that third pic raises an eyebrow…

  4. Constantine Says:

    A glance at the product description of the book at amazon answered my question. OK.

    Those *were* the days when every artist had his muse, after all.

  5. G_A Says:

    What incredible artwork! I think that book may be on my Christmas list now.

  6. ProfMoriarty Says:

    I don’t know if it is noted elsewhere on this site, but I just left the dentist’s office where Leyendecker is featured in a recent issue (sorry, but I was in no state to note/memorize details)of the Saturday Evening Post. A great, brief overview of his career with a bunch of examples of his work for the Post. He obviously had a prolific and varied career. I’m considering browsing the second hand book stores in Boston/Cambridge area looking for old magazines with his covers and (horrors, I know!!!) pulling off the covers and framing them for the spare room where I dress and keep my books and a couple of armories of clothes.
    Thanks for this posting. Love the site. Jack

  7. ProfMoriarty Says:

    “armoires” I should have typed, not “armories”….although I wish, over the years, I could have stored/protected those things dear to me in a guarded fortress.

  8. Miguel Antonio Says:

    It is great art, indeed.

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