Saturday, June 22, 2019

Making of a Tastemaker

From National Geographic:
Born in London in 1778, Brummell grew up during a revolutionary age in Europe and North America. The French and American Revolutions (1789-1799; 1775-1783) marked the decline of the aristocracy and the rise of the individual. Men’s clothing began to convey these political and economic changes. The 18th-century male style, heavily influenced by French royalty, was elaborate and flamboyant: a rainbow of hues in billowy silk, satin, and velvet fabrics; lace cravats and cuffs; knee-length breeches with stockings; high, powdered white wigs; and makeup. (See also: Vintage photos of royal families from all over the world.) 
The growth of a new British style, one that embraced simplicity, structure, and understatement with monochrome and military fabrics, abandoned such prerevolutionary fashions. Psychologist John Carl Flügel later dubbed this gradual process of simplification in men’s dress the “great masculine renunciation,” whereby men’s fashion became inspired by social equality. It turned its back on extravagance, and excessive grooming became regarded as a feminine trait. (See also: Gender-bending fashion rewrites the rules of who wears what.) 
Brummell, a keen observer of society, recognised the social mobility that the modern era promised, one where style and personality rather than birth and wealth could herald status and strength. In 1790 he began his studies at Eton College—where he precociously reformed the distinctive Eton necktie—followed by one term at Oxford University. (Read more.)

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