Fashion and Finesse in Art and Culture

304 pages

32 illustrations

March, 2001

ISBN: 9780814726969



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Susan Fillin-Yeh is the author of The Serpentine Lattice: Helen and Newton Harrison, The Technological Muse, and Charles Sheeler: American Interiors.

All books by Susan Fillin-Yeh

Dandies: Fashion and Finesse in Art and Culture considers the visual languages, politics, and poetics of personal appearance. Dandyism has been most closely associated with influential caucasian Western men-about-town, epitomized by the 19th century style-setting of Oscar Wilde and by Tom Wolfe's white suits. The essays collected here, however, examine the spectacle and workings of dandyism to reveal that these were not the only dandies. On the contrary, art historians, literary and cultural historians, and anthropologists identify unrecognized dandies flourishing among early 19th century Native Americans, in Soviet Latvia, in Africa, throughout the African-American diaspora, among women, and in the art world.

Moving beyond historical and fictional accounts of dandies, this volume juxtaposes theoretical models with evocative images and descriptions of clothing in order to link sartorial self-construction with artistic, social, and political self-invention. Taking into consideration the vast changes in thinking about identity in the academy, Dandies provides a compelling study of dandyism's destabilizing aesthetic enterprise.

Contributors: Jennifer Blessing, Susan Fillin-Yeh, Rhonda Garelick, Joe Lucchesi, Kim Miller, Robert E. Moore, Richard J. Powell, Carter Ratcliffe, and Mark Allen Svede.


  • "A finely wrought ensemble of studies orienting us to a ‘hyperaesthetics' of sartorial and bodily fashioning. To see such diverse ways that people have bodily troped and conceptually trumped cultural categorizations of gender, race, colonial and socioeconomic positionality is inspiring and—well—just dandy!"

    —Michael Silverstein, University of Chicago

  • "Should be of great interest to any civilized person—the dandy, a mutation of taste, is not definable. The book offers a group of excellent essays that attempt to pin it down."

    —Alex Katz

  • "Both lively and scholarly, this is the collection many have been waiting for. At last the dandy emerges from the western European upper class (and male) closet resplendent in a rainbow of cultural, ethnic, sexual, gender and racial colors. Dandies: Fashion and Finesse in Art and Culture is a fascinating investigation into the constructed self, and a major contribution to art and cultural history!"

    —Whitney Chadwick, author of Women, Art, and Society