Columns

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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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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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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At Least They’re Not Boring: Spontaneous Impressions Of I Am Dandy

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One of the more frequent visitors to D.net HQ is a certain Lady Friend who hails from Japan and has spent much of her career in menswear. She’d seen my photo in “I Am Dandy,” but hadn’t gone through the entire book.

Recently, while mixing cocktails, I heard her cry out from the other room. I dashed in thinking something was wrong, but instead found her leafing through the book.

As both a woman and a non-Westerner, her feedback interested me, and I sat down at my keyboard to record her extemporaneous impressions. The exchange ran something like this. — CC

* * *

LF: “Attention please! Attention please! Look at me!”

CC: What’s the matter?

LF: There’s no dandies in here. The title is “I Am Dandy.”

CC: I see. Well how exactly should a dandy look?

LF: Simple. Sophisticated. Mature. Perfect fit.

CC: Thank you.

LF: These guys are like rock stars, gangsters or characters in a movie, but they’re not dandy.

CC: Interesting.

LF: I like the anime characters, though.

CC: The what?

LF: They’re fun. I can imagine characters in movies. But they’re not real. Why is he wearing so many rings?

CC: That’s a good question.

LF: They’re enjoying fashion and I’m so happy to see that. These kinds of guys I really like. But are they elegant gentlemen? They’re like women.

CC: Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

LF: “Watch me. I’m wearing fancy clothing. I’m unusual. I’m special.” That’s the message I can hear from this book. If I don’t see the title I think, “What a fun book!” It’s like scenes from movies. They’re acting. They have their own special characters. At least they’re not boring.

CC: Well put.

LF: The accessories they have are really good. How can I find them?

CC: Another good question.

LF: I really love this teacup.

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Dandy Portraits: The Art Of Pierre de Bonneuil

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Recently we came across the work of Pierre de Bonneuil, an artist who draws portraits of legendary dandies. We asked him to describe his work, and he sent us the following statement, written, as he pointed out, in the troisieme personne:

Principal réfractaire de son époque, Pierre de Bonneuil considère que l’Art ne s’apprend pas. Il se moque de ceux qui étudient dans des institutions républicaines. Le trait demeure inachevé ! Le choix des couleurs est instinctif. Les grandes figures présentent toujours une consonance personnelle de l’artiste. Il semble aussi les détrousser d’une certaine préciosité. L’intérêt se porte sur l’effet qui demeure dans le temps, le charisme perpétré depuis le passage de la Grande Faucheuse. Alors oui! C’est plus facile de concrétiser un sortilège avec une personne vivante … Les photographies ne manquent pas! Il y a matière à confusion … La confection d’un portrait à l’aquarelle est donc une frivolité! Un jeu passionnant. Le sérieux a son rôle aussi dans les coups d’un pinceau obséquieux. Tant que le portraitiste considère son environnement comme une incroyable foire aux vanités, il se jouera de ces dandies et les placera comme des pions …

Visit his website to see more.

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