The dandy is back: Return of the quintessential gentleman

Published 1609 GMT (0009 HKT) December 20, 2013
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How to define a dandy? Today they come in all ages, nationalities, races, occupations and sartorial styles, but all share an obsession with elegance, which they express in ways unique to them. That's the conclusion the authors of the new book I am Dandy: The Return of the Elegant Gentleman came to, as they tracked down the globe's most stylish gentlemen.

Here, writer Nathanial Adams and photographer Rose Callahan introduce us to their favorite, most eccentric dandies from around the world.
Courtesy Rose Callahan/Gestalten
Massimiliano Mocchia di Coggiola

Massimiliano, a young Italian aristocrat who lives in Paris, possesses an enviable wardrobe and an exhaustive knowledge of the history of dandyism. He is famous for his soirees , including a "Sinking of the Titanic" party to which guests came in vintage sleepwear, the floor was covered in smashed crockery, a giant fake iceberg had been constructed in the living room, and all the pictures on the wall were turned at an angle to simulate the feeling of a sinking ship.
Courtesy Rose Callahan/Gestalten
Dr. Andre Churchwell

Dr. Churchwell, a cardiologist at Vanderbilt Hospital in Tennessee, is the very embodiment of a gentleman. His grace of manner recalls something from a Cary Grant film, but his inspiration comes from his father who taught him that dressing was about dignity and professionalism. "We saw the respect he commanded," says Churchwell, "People thought 'he must be something other than a laborer or a doorman.'"
Courtesy Rose Callahan/Gestalten
Minn Hur and Kevin Wang

Minn and Kevin run a custom suiting company, and when it comes to their sartorial aesthetics they are in perfect sync. The duo coordinates their look, and aims to inspire others with their sartorial prowess: "If everyone dressed the way we do and really embraced the lifestyle that we promote life would be great" says Minn.
Courtesy Rose Callahan/Gestalten
Peter McGough

Peter McGough is one half of the influential art duo McDermott & McGough who counted Julian Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Andy Warhol among friends in New York's downtown art scene of the 80's and 90's. Their art has always been based on theories of time - they've lived as 19th-century dandies, tearing plumbing and electrical wiring out of their houses and riding around in four-horse carriages. Mr McGough admonishes those whose dandyism doesn't go deep enough: "There are a lot of people who like to dress up. You can look great, but if you don't have anything to say, what's the point? What are you going to do with your good looks and your nice tie?"
Courtesy Rose Callahan/Gestalten
Robin Dutt

Robin Dutt is a writer, stylist, and professor of fashion. He exudes a dark flamboyance, and a Byronic intensity which comes through when he speaks: "I love wearing items that speak silently and eloquently of the past. Sometimes even carrying a bus ticket from a sixties vintage jacket in a pocket is enough to keep the romance and feeling alive."
Courtesy Rose Callahan/Gestalten
Ed Hayes

"Fast" Eddie Hayes is a legendary litigator whose professional standing doesn't stop him from indulging in love of custom shoes, striped socks, colorful suspenders and glittery cufflinks. He was the District Attorney in Bronx Homicide during the 1980's, and highlights of his career range from winning settlements for widows of 9/11 firefighters, to settling Andy Warhol's estate.
Courtesy Rose Callahan/Gestalten
Barima Owusu-Nyantekyi

Barima is an English/Ghanian dandy who lives in London and works in architecture and interior design. His personal style harks back to the late 60's and early 70's and he wears colorful, wide-lapelled, boot-cut suits that give him the look of a surprisingly slick and flamboyant politician.
Courtesy Rose Callahan/Gestalten
Simon Doonan
Simon is the creative ambassador for Barney's department store, and author of several books on life and fashion. With his husband, designer Jonathan Adler, he lives in an eclectic and flamboyant technicolor dream of an apartment. Doonan loves floral shirts, all things Liberace, and Ed Hardy t-shirts, which he says he wears with the purpose of annoying everybody else in the world of fashion. "If you're in the fashion biz, putting on an Ed Hardy shirt is the most transgressive thing you can do," he explains
Courtesy Rose Callahan/Gestalten
Paolo Canevari

Paolo Canevari is an artist whose work often employs serious imagery, like the crucifixion of Christ. "So," he says, "playing with my image is a way of having fun." His multi-continental wardrobe (he divides his time between New York, Paris, and Terni, Italy,) includes horizontally-striped suits, loud plaid suits, and a grizzly bear fur overcoat found in the trunk of a 1920's Rolls Royce.
Courtesy Rose Callahan/Gestalten
Patrick McDonald

For residents of downtown Manhattan Patrick McDonald is a familiar face, and not only because of the famously arched eyebrows and beauty spot which Liz Taylor personally taught him how to paint. Patrick has been making the scene in New York since the last days of Studio 54, and says that the way he dresses goes far beyond fashion: "The clothing is my paint and I'm the canvas. Dandyism can be an armor, attracting certain people and keeping others away."
Courtesy Rose Callahan/Gestalten
Sean Crowley

Sean, a Brooklyn based menswear designer, has over 2,000 neckties, and his antique-filled apartment exudes the atmosphere of an early 20th century English bachelor's flat. "Most men say Cary Grant or Fred Astaire is their style icon," he says. "Mine is Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster." His last-days-of-the-British Empire-inspired lifestyle is complete with a framed portrait of Edward VII, and infantry-like rows of crystal decanters filled with liquor
Courtesy Rose Callahan/Gestalten
Domenico Spano

Domenico Spano, former director of menswear at Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, is something of a New York icon. He worked his way up in fashion, starting as a salesman, and today runs his own custom menswear business designing colorful clothes inspired by the golden age of Hollywood. He sums up his sartorial philosophy as follows: "Everyone thinks they have to do a modified version. I didn't modify anything. It's already perfect."
Courtesy Rose Callahan/Gestalten
David Carter

David Carter owns the 40 Winks micro-boutique hotel in London, which features two bedrooms for guests and no amenities to speak of. The main perk is that guests get to share a home for a few nights with the extraordinary Mr. Carter, whose clothing is as dramatic as the rooms he decorates. He sums up he considers the core requirement of dandyism: "There should be an honesty and integrity about who you are...I'd rather have a reaction than indifference. I've got one life, I want to burn brightly. I want to be an outsider or a little lighthouse that attracts like-minded people."

I am Dandy: The Return of the Elegant Gentleman is published by Gestalten and is available to buy now.
Courtesy Rose Callahan/Gestalten