Photos by Rose Callahan from I am Dandy copyright Gestalten 2013
In an era in which grown men have taken to wearing calf-length shorts and backwards-facing baseball caps, any book that celebrates gentlemanly style is something of a miracle. Adams memorably describes our recent times as "dark decades of vulgarity…and conformity insidiously masquerading as personal expression," and that characterization will likely resonate, to some extent, with anyone who has an appreciation of vintage culture. That said, we'd be remiss in failing to raise a minor cavil. We would gladly have sacrificed a profile or two in exchange for a more robust introduction: one that put the phenomenon of dandyism in a more fully elaborated historical context. We're not suggesting, by any means, a textbook treatment; this is too rich a subject for that kind of dry dissection. But for us – apologies if our vintage perspective is showing – a bit more of the past, even at the cost of a few pages dedicated to the present, would have been most welcome.
One thing you won't wonder about is the excellence of the photography. It would be fair to say that this is a theme demanding documentation in images as much as in words – perhaps more so.
And these images, taken by Callahan, do not disappoint. They are thoughtfully composed and abundant. That's not to ignore Adams's prose; it is polished, witty, and quite stylish.
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This isn't a book intended for coverto-cover reading; it doesn't insist on being experienced in any particular sequence. You can open it at random if you like, spend a few diverting minutes and close it up again. Does it deserve a spot in your book collection? Yes. If you enjoy visiting with the individuals who populate its pages, I Am Dandy may well justify a spot of honor on the coﬀee table – or the dresser.
Published on Nov 22, 2013
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