Les Invisibles


 

The age of flamboyance of the second generation of dandies

extravagant "toilettes" were typical of incroyables dandies

Every detail was essential and nothing was left to chance

strolls in the park were de rigeur for demonstrationg one's fashion sense

 

Refined hobbies [like gambling] allowed for social activity with no sartorial danger


 

When “Beau” Brummell left the world of dandyism for his final retreat the idea he inspired had only begun to pique interest and capture fancy. The men who would follow in Brummell’s steps didn’t necessarily hold to the absolute standards that Brummell had established, but they did continue to pursue elegance.

The count d’Orsay was the first to give a little flamboyance to the idea of dandyism. His outfits were described by a contemporary “"The costume was certainly of the order called singular, consisting of a sky-blue broad-skirted coat with large gilt buttons, a crimson velvet waistcoat, a violet satin scarf, sticking out like the inflated crop of a pigeon, and canary-coloured, tight-fitting trousers. A profusion of jewelry glittered in his ruffled bosom, on his fingers, and across his flaunting waistcoat. In his hand he carried a gold-mounted cane”. This lead inspired the second generation of dandies [those who had never met Brummell but knew of his legacy] to indulge in little flights of sartorial fancy. Collars grew until they began to obscure the face, hats descended down the head and cravats became so elaborate that the ensemble left no room for the dandy to function: he just disappeared in his clothes [hence the name invisibles].

Men like Benjamin Disraeli and Charles Dickens took up a similar style and the cultural climate of the early 19th Century became awash with fashionable men and fashionable novels. These men and their living example as well as works like Pelham by Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Vivian Gray by Benjamin Disraeli, and host of other fashionable novels gave the social climate of both London and Paris its pâture.

The fashions were truly remarkable, and no expense was spared in creating a fashionable ensemble: there’s even a story about a young man cutting his ear off because his shirt color/cravat combination was so high and so well starched.  A young dandy might start with a perfectly ironed and starched white shirt, compliment it with a pair of soft colored trousers, a more daringly colored waistcoat, then add a cravat in either white, or if he were more daring a deep jewel tone to compliment his waistcoat/coat combination, and then add the finishing touches of a dark blue or black coat and beep black boots: he was then ready for the boulevard or the park and a fashionable afternoon.

The use of color too was prodigious. Dandies were seen promenading around in pastels, bright crimsons, black and deep jewel tones- but for evenings, the rule was black and white. This rule was even further cemented in place with the publication of Pelham which reigned for many years as the bible of the fashionable world. Les Incroyables as they were called [the incredible ones] paraded around London and Paris and gave the generations is new heros.