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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:

artisan

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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Camille Paglia Likes Men (In Theory, That Is)

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Camille Paglia has been our favorite lesbian cultural critic ever since her 1990 book “Sexual Personae,” which exhibited vigorous and often embarrassing insight into dandies, decadents and aesthetes. When it comes to her versus Rhonda Garelick, we certainly think Dr. Paglia has a trifle the preference.

It’s also fun to watch the renegade scholar vex and roil mainstream academic feminists.

To wit, yesterday Dr. Paglia posted an essay at Time.com crediting men not only with dandyism (OK, while not mentioned, it’s certainly implied), but with far less dandyish activities, such as refuse disposal, and inventing the dishwasher.

Men will also become socially useful to enlightened women once again, Paglia assures us, once  the apocalypse comes:

After the next inevitable apocalypse, men will be desperately needed again! Oh, sure, there will be the odd gun-toting Amazonian survivalist gal, who can rustle game out of the bush and feed her flock, but most women and children will be expecting men to scrounge for food and water and to defend the home turf. Indeed, men are absolutely indispensable right now, invisible as it is to most feminists, who seem blind to the infrastructure that makes their own work lives possible. It is overwhelmingly men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete, laying bricks, tarring roofs, hanging electric wires, excavating natural gas and sewage lines, cutting and clearing trees, and bulldozing the landscape for housing developments. It is men who heft and weld the giant steel beams that frame our office buildings, and it is men who do the hair-raising work of insetting and sealing the finely tempered plate-glass windows of skyscrapers 50 stories tall.

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Birds Of A Feather

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Fop together. Via Billionaire.com. For complete photo shoot, head here.

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To Cut A Dash

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Recently we watched the 2011 BBC production of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations,” in which the protagonist, Pip, who is newly risen from poverty by an anonymous benefactor, is told by an admiring peer how he “cuts a dash.”

And indeed he does. Played by actor Douglas Booth, Pip’s impression of energized elegance comes down to a certain set of qualities, all of which require the blessings of Providence.

In brief, to properly cut a dashing figure in society, you need to be:

• Young

• Handsome

• Tall

• Slender

• Rich, or fortified by credit

The 19th century novel was largely centered around the young man, often from the provinces, who goes to the metropolis in search of love and money. Often these characters adopt dandy airs — and machinations. Never are these characters:

• Old

• Ugly

• Short

• Fat

• Poor

Pip, Pip hooray. We should all be so lucky.

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The First Biography On Francis de Miomandre

Francis de Miomandre - Pierre de BonneuilWe recently featured the artwork of Paris-based Pierre de Bonneuil. Now he follows up with a post of his own, on lesser-known French dandy Francis de Miomandre.

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C’est avec un immense plaisir que la France compte dans sa bibliothèque la première biographie consacrée à Francis de Miomandre. L’avant-propos occupe 3 pages merveilleuses par une écriture si légitime. En effet, Philippe de Miomandre honore son oncle et présente l’auteur de cet élégant ouvrage, Remi Rousselot. Ami et confrère des feuilles volantes, il donne en 2013 à partir de ses recherches une possibilité d’entrer dans le cabinet d’un dandy presque oublié.

Francis etait un homme de petite taille, l’oeil pétillant et toujours bien soigné. Il portait le monocle et fumait de longues cigarettes. Ses amis épistolaires étaient Gide, Suarès, Larbaud, Breton, Supervielle, Desnos, Milosz, Soupault, Claudel et beaucoup d’autres. Participant aux aventures littéraires de son siècle, il cultivait le paradoxe en considérant bien plus la variété de ses promenades avec son caméléon de compagnie. De Miomandre avait fondé dans sa jeunesse une société secrète nommée Peacocks. Plume féconde, il a une flopée d’ouvrages à son actif et quelques traductions dont ” Elégance des temps endormis ” du sulfureux Vicomte de Lascano-Tegui.

Il habita pendant un certain temps — rue La Bruyère — un appartement qui disposait de deux pièces. L’une lui servait à la fois de salon, de chambre à coucher et de studio; l’autre était un cabinet de toilettes. L’ensemble décoratif ressemblait étrangement aux esquisses d’Aubrey Beardsley — c’est à dire que tout était recouvert de dentelles et de voiles blancs dans lesquels se détachaient quelques objets résolument noirs.

Il se faisait inviter dans les cercles les plus réputés: au Jockey, à l’Union, à l’Epatant, à la Régence, au Fouquet’s, au Flore, où il croisait quelques dandys — Charles du Bos, Robert de Montesquiou, Boni de Castellane et le Prince de Sagan. Son dernier texte fut publié par les nouvelles littéraires, le 4 août 1960, soit un an, presque jour pour jour, après sa disparition. Son titre était prémonitoire: trop de silence. — PIERRE DE BONNEUIL

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