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Am I Dandy? Instructions on How to Lead an Extravagant Life

24. June 2016 – 20. November 2016

Closing Event: Am I Dandy? How to Lead an Extravagant Life, November 17th at 7pm, Schwules Museum*


“Whoever doesn’t carry a backpack, wear a tattered sweater with torn jeans, but is just dressed normally is a dandy,” according to the late journalist Fritz J. Raddatz, who died in 2015 and was often called a modern dandy. Still, the question remains of who or what is a dandy?
The exhibition will try to provide an answer. By bringing historical dandy portrayals such as “Beau” Brummell or Oscar Wilde with current manifestations of dandyism together for the first time, it is possible to present the diversity of this phenomenon. This includes the “femme dandy” and her “inventor” Coco Chanel, whose new feminine fashion allowed women to live without a corset; the dandy 2.0 in the men’s fashion blogs on the internet; and the “black dandy”, now enjoying a fantastic comeback through the Congolese “Sapeurs”.
The goal is not to come up with a simple definition to answer the question. This would not make much sense in light of the wide variety of forms that can be called dandy-like. Still, whether in the 19th or the 21st century, there are some specific characteristics by which we can identify a dandy. These may vary slightly, yet have a certain constancy, such as a well-tied tie.
The exhibit seeks to show these characteristics and their manifestations in their typical environment – the street, the dressing room, the salon or club, the runway – to allow us to experience them in both a public and an intimate setting. Being a dandy is a holistic undertaking, therefore the exhibit speaks to all of the senses to allow the visitors to get to know the fascinating and glamorous dandy phenomenon. If nothing else, the dandy is concerned with strategies for (self-) production, and thus for an individual performance of what a dandy can be. The visitors should and can help fill the openness of this phenomenon by being able to produce themselves as dandies.

There are only a few descriptions inside the exhibition. Background information can be found in the corresponding booklet. It is given out with every entry ticket and can be downloaded here.

This project was made possible with financial support from the Hauptstadtkulturfonds.