Hugo Jacomet of Parisian Gentleman, Paris. Courtesy, Ross Callahan.
Rose Callahan is notable for, among other things, her work in creating The Dandy Portraits, in which she catalogs the “lives of exquisite gentlemen today”—contemporary dandies and modern retro-eccentrics alike. Ms. Callahan’s commitment to outstanding men’s style, as well as her eye for detail and superior photography, prompted Dandyism.net to get in touch with her and ask a few questions.
Ms. Callahan is a native of San Francisco—an increasingly rare thing nowadays. She studied photography at the venerable California College of the Arts, founded in 1907 by Frederick Meyer, one of the lodestars of the California Arts and Crafts movement. Ms. Callahan shares a legacy with such West Coast luminaries of aestheticism as Gillette Burgess (founder of The Lark), Willis Polk and Bruce Porter. It’s no wonder she has such an acute sense of the minute details of her craft, or that she was called “the most amazing woman on the planet” by the authors the Fine and Dandy Shop’s weblog.
Ms. Callahan tells us she was inspired to take up photography at an early age by her mother, who was passionate about the art. Her early heroes included Man Ray, Brassai, George Hurrell, Robert Frank, Bruce Davidson, Helen Levitt, Diane Arbus, Mary Ellen Mark and Hollywood glamor portraits.
As a freelance photographer, Ms. Callahan shoots portraits and fashion plates for clients such as Grey, McCann-Eriksson, Scholastic, Random House, the Gilt Groupe and so forth. Recently she has been creating short films at her own Rarebit Productions, focusing on her favorite subject, the exquisite gentleman. She is currently collaborating with journalist Nathaniel Adams on a book proposal for The Dandy Portraits. She now lives in New York City.
Winston Chesterfield of Le Vrai Winston, London. Courtesy Rose Callahan.
Michael Mattis: When did you first hear the word “dandyism?” How did you react to it?
Rose Callahan: I don’t ever recall not knowing the word, but my understanding of it must have come from watching reruns of BBC shows on public TV. It was usually in context of “he’s a bit of a dandy,” meaning or insinuating somewhat of an eccentric English gentlemen, but with a rakish quality, and of course, a sharp dresser. The Kink’s song “Dandy” was definitely also part of my awareness of the term.