In a recent Butch Please post on Autostraddle, Kate provided a personal critique of the dandy dapper queer aesthetic, stating:
“If butchness and butch desirability has its own power structure, dapper butch is at the top, which makes sense in a twisted and sad way when you think that rich educated white men, the thing that dapper butch is meant to emulate (either ironically or not – in so many cases I think a critical commentary is no longer in play or being utilized) are at the top of the macro version of that power structure. Like so many other parts of queer masculinity, dapper feels good. It feels good to dress dapper because I know I will be immediately accepted by queers and non-queers alike. I know I will be considered attractive, I will be able to navigate queer spaces with complete ease, and my masculinity will not be questioned.”
dapperQ and fashion blogger Blake Calhoun of Qwear provided a very robust rebuttal in “Feeling Dandy About Being Dapper” on Autostraddle. Here’s an excerpt:
“Dandy has gone through various incarnations from its origins in 18th century Britain to modern day interpretations, as documented in RISD’s Artist/Rebel/Dandy exhibition featuring the stylings of a diverse range of icons including W.E.B. Du Bois, John Waters and Patti Smith. Each manifestation brings new voices, new perspectives, new interpretations. For example, in her book Slaves to Fashion, Barnard Collage Associate Professor Monica L. Miller documents the unique history of black dandyism. andré m. carrington’s review of Miller’s book notes, ‘the black dandy also furnishes indispensable varieties of female masculinity with which to style the revolution… DuBois suggests, as a black dandy patriarch, that black and darker peoples might freely choose to love and enjoy modes of dress and self-presentation that feminize men and masculinize women, much to the consternation of critics who would strip his peculiar wedding of aesthetics and politics of its decisively racial accoutrements.’”
Photographer Sophia Wallace has been on the forefront of capturing images of more recent incarnations of dandyism in her photo series “Modern Dandies.” As Priscilla Frank notes on the Huffington Post:
“Even in its origin, the dandy life was about more than just bourgeois tastes. The aestheticized lifestyle opened up a space of creative possibility, one where the dandy could perform his or her own persona, disrupting gender norms in the process. Today the dandy remains an influential figure in queer culture. Take, for example, photographer Sophia Wallace, who captures modern dandies with her sharp-edged lens, capturing the strength and fierceness not normally associated with typical feminine beauty.”
For more images from the series, visit Frank’s write-up in the Huffington Post or visit Sophia Wallace’s website. All images by Sophia Wallace.