Friday, June 7, 2013

Happy birthday, Beau Brummell

It is the birthday of British fashion figure Beau Brummell (1778), who is credited with establishing the modern standard of men's fashion, with tailored dark coats, full-length trousers, pressed shirts and neckties. Although he was educated at Eton and then Oxford, he wasn't as wealthy as his fellow students. In the British Army, he became close friends with the Prince of Wales (who would become King George IV). The Prince was fascinated with Brummell's fashion sense and attention to grooming details. By force of his own personality, Brummell influenced students and later much of London society, spending most of his resources on fashion. He was considered a genius at combining colors, texture and shape of clothing to great effect. Though later he had a falling out with the Prince, such was his stature that he remained influential. Eventually, though, he ran up enormous debt and had to flee to France to avoid debtor's prison. In France, he died penniless at age 61. Books about Brummell include The Life of Beau Brummell (1844), Of Dandyism and of George Brummell (1845), Wits and Beaux of Society (1861), Beau Brummell: His Life and Letters (1925), Beau Brummell (1948), and The Dandy: Brummell to Beerbohm (1960). Brummell's style inspired plays and movies as well.

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