The Butterfly Dandy


The fancy men who succeeded Brummel, and the legacy they inspired

The Count d'Orsay: the father of the Butterfly dandies, a truly elegant man, but not known for his austere simplicity.

Benjamin d'Israeli: as a young man he was the image of butterfly dandyism, until he turned his sites on politics and dressed more soberly. 

Oscar Wilde: a Victorian "dandy" who was well known for his flamboyance of dress 

Lord Whimsy: A modern example of "butterfly dandyism" 

"Beau" Brummel, in establishing dandyism established a style based on simplicity, modesty, and an unaffected masculine elegance: he eschewed the over-decoration of the Baroque period, and advocated a more spartan look as proper to masculine fashion.

Those who followed in his footsteps would not however keep this strict simplicity. The next generation, in fact, after the Beau's retreat was filled by the likes of the Count d'Orsay and Benjamin d'Israeli. These men were more ostentatious than Brummel and took pride in their little flights of flamboyancy.

The Count d'Orsay created his own flamboyant style that was imitated everywhere "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.  Also "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: he also invented the d'Orsay. The d'Orsay is where the vamp and sides of the pump are cut away to reveal the décolleté of the instep.

Benjamin d"israeli would also make quite a fashion statement with hsi dandyism “No one could fail to notice or remember the young man who went about in black velvet, satin-lined coat, purple trousers with a gold band down the seam, a figured scarlet waistcoat, lace ruffles falling to his fingers, a profusion of jewels and chains [including the famous rings worn on the outside of his white gloves] and long black ringlets framing his markedly Semitic features”

The Butterfly dandy would compete with, and at times submerge Brummel's simpler,  more austere ideal of masculine fashion. Finally however with the Count of Montesquiou and Oscar Wilde, the style would take the name of Decadence or occasionally Aestheticism and would diverge form strict dandyism. 

Butterfly dandyism was the joyaux of the fashion world for most of the Victorian period, and while it did not follow the rules for dandyism as inspired by Brummel, it nevertheless profoundly marked the world of men's fashion even up to today



The Butterfly Dandy