Wednesday, 23 November 2011

WABI SABI architecture


Wabi Sabi is more than just a way of looking at beauty, it is a state of mind.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

PHOTOGRAPHY: Momentum of a city.

"Indifference": photography by Marc T.

I made this picture on the beach in Tel Aviv on a Saturday morning, Photographing a not very elegant woman laying on the beach would not have make sense. I saw this  little child walking to the sea.  The composition of the picture became suddenly interesting. Two persons photographed without any connection to each other are photographed,  illustrating clearly a social reality in a society based on a total indifference. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A STORY BEHIND A PHOTOGRAPH: Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper, photo: Marc T

Alice Cooper with python: photo Marc T.

Those two photographs from Alice Cooper were taken in Brussels during the POISON TOUR for the London  magazine New Musical Express in mid 1980s. The interview was done in London but Alice Cooper refused to be photographed during the interview. I had to fly the next day to Brussels to make those two photographs,.as usual the deadline was close and two days after the magazine had to be released. The work conditions in the Brussels venue were terrible and I had only 5 minutes to make the shot during the first song of the show. Security monkeys ( Neanderthal type of short haired motor bikers and or fatty muscle guys with zero IQ, often hired by the concert producers)   were well briefed and after exactly 5 minutes we had to leave the front stage area. The light was extremely bad and on half power. I went inside the crowd a couple of meters behind the front stage and made those photographs as fast as I could. Alice Cooper appeared from behind the stage with this huge python around his neck. Half an hour later after shooting, I was flying back to London with a hired private jet. Next day the pictures appeared in NME.. 
For those photographs I used two Nikon F3 bodies (at that time absolute new and most sophisticated  35mm camera) , one with 35 mm and the second one with 180 mm. Kodak TRI-X 400 pushed up until 1600.. Films were processed at the magazine's lab by my assistant and the prints made by myself at 3 o'clock in the morning..At five in the morning I speeded back to the airport, trying to persuade my girlfriend not  moving to New York...I was not at her birthday party...  I never saw her again and I never listened to Alice Cooper again.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

CULINARY EXTASES: The Truffle, a pleasure with a little mistrust.

From all the mushrooms, the truffle is the most exquisite, tasteful and rare ingredient in gastronomy. The truffle is food from the Gods, an absolute confirmation of someone's delicacy and good taste. The truffle is a culture on its own. 
A pleasure with a little mistrust is a playful description of an unique and particular culinary experience. 
Jean Anthelme Brillat Savarin (1755 - 1826) wrote the book The Physiology of Taste which made him famous at the end of his life, astonishing those who knew him only as a distinguished judge in the Paris Court of Appeal.. Born in Belley, in the South- East of France, he lived in violent and eventful times, his legal career being interrupted by the French Revolution - in which initially he participated, from which he later had to flee - and exile in America. On return he became an establishment figure, a keen instinct for self-preservation enabling him to survive numerous changes of regime. He was a man of many parts, landowner, one-time mayor, amateur doctor and scientist, violinist, keen hunter, admirer of beautiful women, and author of a handful of pornographic stories.
Physiology of Taste was first published in France in 1826 and never since out of print. The Physiology of taste is an historical, philosophical and epicurean collection of reflections and anecdotes on anything and everything gastronomical.
In this article we focused on the passage about the truffle, the black diamond of an particular gastronomical experience.
The recipe at the end of the article, is from the French top chef Alain Ducasse. It was in the early 1980's that I met Alain Ducasse for the first time. He realized this Winter Truffle Salad on a afternoon during a visit in his house in the Provence. We were having an aperitif when a local farmer brought a few truffles freshly harvest in the morning. 

 Jean Anthelme Brillat - Savarin  1755 - 1826


The first edition of the book.


Brillat - Savarin about the Truffle, excerpt from The Physiology of Taste VII Truffles.

43: Whosoever pronounces the word truffle gives voice to one which awakens erotic and gastronomical dreams equally in the sex that wears skirts and the one that sprouts a beard.
This most honest sharing of emotions springs from the fact that the renowned tuber is not only delicious to the taste, but is believed to rouse certain powers whose tests of strenght are accompanied by the deepest pleasure.
The beginning of the truffle are not known: it can be found, but none understands how it is born or how it develops. The cleverest men have devoted themselves to it: they have believed that the seeds were found, and that they could be sown at will. Useless efforts! Lying promises!.Never yet has such a planting been followed by a harvest, and this is perhaps not two unfortunate; for, since the price of truffles depends largely on public whim, perhaps they would be less highly valued if they were abundant and inexpensive.
"Good news, my dear friend !" I said one time to Madame de V...; ' we have just been presented in the Society for the Encouragement of Industry with a new method by which the most exquisite lace can be produced, and at practically no cost!" "Heavens!" that beautiful lady answered with a bored look. "If lace were cheap, do you suppose that I would bother to wear such ragged-looking stuff ? "

The Erotic Properties of Truffles.

44: The Romans had a kind of truffle; but it does not seem probable that the French variety got as far as their tables. The ones which were so highly prized by them came from Greece, from Africa, and above all from Lybia; their flesh was white or reddish, and the Lybian truffles were at once the most sought after and the most delicate and odorous.

Gustus elementa per omnia quaerunt. Juvenal

It is a long time from the Romans until now, and the renewal of a taste for truffles is fairly recent, for I have read several old pharmacy manuals where no mention of them was made: it could almost be said that the generations which lives and breathes at this moment of writing has witnessed that renaissance.
Truffles were rare in Paris as near ago as 1780; they could be found only at the Hotel des Americains and the Hotel de Provence, and then in but small amounts; and a truffled turkey was a luxurious item which could be seen only on the tables of the highest nobility or the best-paid whores.
We owe their increasing presence to the merchants of fine edibles, whose number also has increased greatly, and who, seeing that this certain article was in high favor, have bought it up all over the kingdom and who, paying high prices and ordering it to be shipped to Paris by messenger and by fast coach express, have caused a general widespread hunt for truffles (this last being necessary since, impossible as they are to cultivate, it is only by careful search that the supply of them can be added to).
It can be stated that at this moment the glory of  the truffle is at its peak. No man would assert that he had dined at a table where at least one truffled dish was wanting. The intrinsic excellence of an entree counts for nothing if it is not enriched with truffles. And who has not felt his mouth water at the mention of Truffes a la Provencale?
A saute of truffles is a plate which is concocted and served by the mistress of the house herself; in short. the truffle is the diamond of the art of cookery.
i have looked for a reason for this preference, for it has seemed to me that many other foods had an equal right to it, and I have found it in the general conviction that the truffle contributes to sexual pleasures; moreover, I have been led to conclude that the greatest part of our perfection, our predilection, and our admiration's spring from the same cause, in so powerful and general an homage do we hold this tyrannical,  capricious sense!
This discovery of mine led me on to wonder if the truffle's amorous effects were real, and the opinion of it based on facts. Such a research is doubtless shocking and could be snickered at by the sly; but evil be to him who thinks it! Any truth is good to know. First of all I talked with the ladies, because they posses both a clear eye and a delicate sense of tact; but it was soon plain to me that I should have begun this project some forty years earlier and I could draw out only ironical or evasive answers.
A single friend took me in good faith, and I shall let her speak for herself: she is a sensitive unaffected woman, virtuous without being smug, and for whom passion is by now no more than a memory.
"Monsieur," she said to me, "in the days when we still served early suppers, I once served one to my husband and a friend. Verseuil (which was the latter's name) was a good - looking fellow, far from dull, who often came to our house, but he had never said a word to me which might infer that he was my suitor: and if he flirted a little with me, it was in such a discreet way that only a fool could have misunderstood it. He seemed fated, that day, to keep me company, for my husband had a business appointment and soon left us. Our supper, although light enough, had however for its main dish a superb truffled fowl. The sub-delegate of Perigueux had sent it to us. In those days that was truly a treat: and, knowing its origin, you can imagine how near perfection it came. The truffles above all were delicious, and you know how much I love them; still, I restrained myself: and I drank but one glass of wine; I had a flash of feminine intuition that the evening would not come to an end without some sort of disturbance. Soon after supper my husband left, and I was alone with Verseuil, whom he looked upon as quite without menace to our manage. For a time the conversation flowed along without much excitement. then it seemed to become more restricted and more absorbing. Verseuil showed himself successively as flattering, expansive, affectionate, caressing, and finally realizing that I did no more than lightly turn aside his prettiest phrases, he became so insistent that I could no longer hide from myself what he hoped would result. I awoke, then, as from a dream, and repulsed him all the more easily since I felt no real attraction to him. He persisted with an activity which could have become really offensive; I was hard put to it to bring him his senses; and I admit to my shame that I succeeded in doing it only by pretending to him that there might still be some hope for him, another time.
Finally  he left me; I went to bed and slept like a babe. but the next morning was Judgement day for me; I thought over my behavior of the night before, and I found it infamous. i ought to have stopped Verseuil at his protestations and not have lent myself to a conversation which from the beginning promised ill. My pride ought to have awakened sooner, and my eyes should have frowned severely on him; I should have rung for help, cried out, become angry, done, in other words, everything that I did not do. What can I say to you "Monsieur"? I blame the whole thing on the truffles; I am truly convinced that they had given to me a dangerous inclination; and if I did not renounce them completely (which would have been too stern a punishment for me), at least I never eat them, now, that the pleasure they give me is not mixed with a little mistrust.


An easy to make recipe with hard to find truffles.
"Winter Black truffle Salad "(Truffes noires en salade d'hiver) from top and master chef Alain Ducasse



The french top chef Alain Ducasse in his kitchen

For the ingredients you need 120g of black truffles, 20 sliced shallots marinated in red wine vinegar, 4 slices country-style bread toasted on wood fire, a mix of lettuce composed by 30g morgeline lettuce + 20 g white purselaine (chicory, red hawk etc...+ 50 g small letuces + 30 g fine curley endive + 30 g large-leaved curly endive + 10 g aragula + 30 g lamb's lettuce + 10 g dandelion. A herb mix is composed by 5g chervil + 2g fresh mint + 3 g taragon + 3 g marjoram + 3 g green basil + 5g chives. The salad dressing is made with 2cl basic vinaigrette, a teaspoon of parmesan cheese and 20 g of minced truffles sprinkled with Fleur de sel.
A side dressing is composed with 4cl basic vinaigrette, 20 g mashed truffles and 1 cl of truffle oil.
To make a basic vinaigrette you need 20cl of olive oil, 10cl of reduced vegetable consomme, 10 cl balsamic vinegar, 10 cl red wine vinegar,  10 cl truffle juice and Fleur de sel. Parmesan cheese.


The black gold "Perigord truffle"
Making the salad:
Clean the truffles under cold  running water with a nailbrush. dry the truffles and peel with a fine bladeknife. (set the triming apart for another use. Keep always truffles in sealed jar in the fridge to avoid the dominant smell of truffles to affect your fridge content).
Stalk the morgeline lettuce, dandelion, aragula and porcelaine. Separate the curly endives and small lettuce and keep only the top of the leaves. Separate the lamb's lettuce leaves. Wash the letuces in a large amount of water keeping them separate and spin dry.
Separate the leaves of the chervil, fresh mint, tarragon, marjoram, green basil and chives. Keep only the top of the leaves. Wash the herbs in a large amount of water keeping them separate and spin.
Mix the herbs, lettuces, the Parmesan shavings and minced trufles. Season with 4 teaspoon of basic vinaigrette, fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper.
To finish and to plate the salad you have to mix all the vinaigrette ingredients. Put the lettuce and herb mis in the middle of a plate and shape a dome. Slices the truffles, dip the slices in the vinaigrette to season and cover the dome completely with the truffle slices.
Season the truffles slices with Fleur de Sel and freshly ground pepper, top with the marinated shallots and surround the dome with a ribbon of dressing, serve with a country bread toast.




Alain Ducasse cutting the black magic Perigord truffle

Sunday, 6 November 2011

PHOTOGRAPHY: Abstract Realities or The Photography of an Image. Marc T


For many years I.m exploring  the relation between  reality and what we see as a reality in imagery and photography.  Is reality a personal interpretation from an action?  What makes us believe what we see is reality?  A same picture will evoke different interpretations by different viewers, everyone will see his own reality. I'm not interested in pictorial and descriptive photography, I'm concerned about the image and the non-manipulation of the image. I work with a full automatic digital camera and do not process the pictures. I don't want to interfere in the imaging. The frame is an imposed limitation obliging me to compose into a given space. 
Abstract Realities is questioning the understanding of the imagery versus  photography. Photography by definition is a fixed fragment of life or from a situation, in other cases it is a constructed illusion like commonly used in commercial photography. We are used to see, and, to interpret a situation translated into a picture. Susan Sontag was also questioning the seeing in photography and the photographers reality versus the  "real' reality. A taken photograph is the photographers reality. The photographer than interprets a particular action or subject and translate into his own visual language.
What is a photograph or better what is a photographed image? The image is the result of a photographed item. The image is an interpretation of what we see and we do not always see reality. In some cases the abstraction of reality is already the item itself.
I discovered this when I was shooting a model through a glass wall.  A traditional photograph will show a women behind a glass wall, but I photographed the image created by a subject through a glass wall.
I'm interested in  photographing the image of the subject rather than the subject itself.. I photographed a   glass wall ,while the image seen on that glass wall is an interpretation of a reality behind the  glass wall.
In this case photography is joining the abstract painting,  reproducing the essential of the image. By erasing - the glass wall is erasing - all  perturbing details and  to reduce the  subject to its minimal, we  can read the obtained picture in a different way, whatever the reality is.  The image stands on itself and the subject becomes a medium and is not the purpose.


 Abstract Reality 1 photo; Marc T. Nov 2011

 Abstract Reality 2 photo: Marc T. Nov 2011

 Abstract Reality 3 photo: Marc. T Nov. 2011

 Abstract Reality 4 photo: Marc T. Nov 2011

 Abstract Reality 5 photo: Marc T. Nov 2011

 Abstract Reality 6 photo: Marc T. Nov 2011

 Abstract Reality 7 photo: Marc T. Nov 2011 

 Abstract Reality 8 photo: Marc T. Nov 2011

 Abstract Reality 9 photo: Marc T.Nov 2011

Abstract Reality 10 photo: Marc T. Nov 2011

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

TULIPOMANIA, A raging fever for a flower that turned men crazy.

An  essay based on the book The Tulip,  Anna Pavord's book, (1999).
Marc T.




Passion for flowers is a true sign of devotion for nature in Western culture, and early in history, this passion was expressed in the creation gardens to idealize nature and  in collecting exotic plants by the aristocracy.
Why flowers and what is the secret behind flowers that can turn men and women crazy.What is the hidden link with  flowers that is inspiring an outrageous behavior. This essay is travelling us back to the Golden Age in the Netherlands, between 1634 and 1640. During six years the Dutch were literally captured by a fever with a never seen equivalent in history. What happen to the Dutch aristocracy during the Golden Age is still unknown.Centuries later the phenomenon was still in the memories also outside Holland. 
In 1841, the Scottish journalist, Charles Mackay wrote in  "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" "...12 acres (5ha) of land were offered for a Semper Augustus bulb..." Mackay in its book claims that "many such investors were ruined by the fall in prices, and Dutch commerce suffered a severe shock". 
From a biological approach, flowers are the sexual organs of a plants, and maybe this is explaining why we are attracted by  flowers, revealing hidden sexual phantasms and fantasies in a subtle interaction between  smells, colors and forms.  We can observe how delicately we manipulate flowers, it is an almost sensual gesture and is evoking amazing sensations often close to love emotions.In other cultures its symbolizes fertility and sometimes also the evil. In some African tribes some flowers are attributed to the bad evil, while other flowers are used to protect the villages. In all cultures in the world  flowers are an integer part of cultural and social life. 
Flowers are  important actors in  exchanges and relationships between persons, with no difference if it concerns men or women, differences in age or cultural background. In  Romantic England and Victorian period, young lovers were communicating their devotions through flowers, giving a rose was a demand, separating the petals from the flower was a refusal.  Flowers contributed to an extraordinary epithet of desires and seduction.
The high society made of proud of  to posses the most spectacular gardens with plants coming from all over the world. The gardens were places to meet or to invite,  to hide lovers and mistresses, it was and still is an ideal location to exhibit wealth and power.
Some flowers have an incredible, almost magical and even mystical, attraction and ,  for still unknown reasons, some flowers can have such an impact that it changes dramatically our lives. We know the story of roses in perfume making, the unbelievable magic power of the Rosa Damascena used in the most exclusive fragrances.
"Malle wagen"(Dutch for the foolish charriot) Hendrik Gerritsz Pot 1640.
Allegoriy of tulip.
"Flora" the Godess of flowers, is blowing by the wind and rides with a tippler, money changers and the two faced Godess "Fortuna". The y are followed by dissolute Haarlem weavers, on their way to destruction in the sea


The Tulip is another of those flowers that had such a impact. Why  men turned absolutely crazy for this plant, was it  unlimited love or an evil magic power. In the 17th century the Tulip was ruling Kingdoms, was making fortunes and unfortunately it was also creating catastrophes and disasters amongst rich people getting bankrupt by a simple flower growing in Turkey mountains and became a never seen power.

"Flowers in a glass vase"   Ambrosius Bosschaerts The Elder 1573 - 1614.
Born in Antwerp, Belgium and living in The Netherlands, Ambrosius Bosschaerts the Elder was one the Great masters  in still life painting in the Dutch Golden Age.
National Gallery London.




The tulip does not disappoint. Its background is full of more mysteries, dramas, dilemmas, disasters and triumphs than any besotted aficionado could reasonably expect. In the wild, it is an Eastern flower, growing along a corridor which stretches either side of the line of latitude 40 degrees North. The line extends from Ankara in Turkey eastwards through Jerevan and Baku to Turkmenistan, then on past Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent to the mountains of the Pamir-Alai, which, with neighbouring Tien Shan is the the hotbed of the tulip family.
As far as Western Europe is concerned, the tulip's story began in Turkey, from where in the mid sixteenth century, European travelers brought back news of the brilliant and until then unknown "Lils Rouges", so prized by the Turks. In fact they were not lilies at all but tulips. In April 1559, the Zurich physician and botanist Conrad Gesner saw the tulip flowering for the first time in the splendid garden made by Johannis  Heinrich Herwart of Augsburg, Bavaria.

The Swiss physician and botanist Conrad Gesner ( engraving unknown appr. 1550)


He described its gleaming red petals and its sensuous scent in a book published two years later, the first known report of the flower growing in Western Europe. The tulip, wrote Gesner, had 'sprung'  from a seed which had come from Constantinople or as others say from Cappadocia'. From that flower and from its wild cousins, gathered over the next 300 years from the steppes of Siberia from Afghanistan, Chitral, Beirut and the Caucasus, came the cultivars which have been grown in gardens ever since. More than 5500 different tulips are listed in the International Register published regularly since 1929 by the Royal general bulbgrowers's Association in the Netherlands. Holland was the setting for one of the most strangest episodes in the long mesmerising story of the tulip. The 'Tulipomania' that raged in Holland between 1634 and 1637 has puzzled historians and economists every since. How could it have ever happened that single bulbs of certain kinds of tulips could change hands for sums that would have secured a town house in the best quarter of Amsterdam? How was it possible that at the height of the tulip fever, a bulb of Admiral van Enkhuysen weighing 215 azen, could sell for 5400 guilders, the equivalent of fifteen years' wages for the average Amsterdam bricklayer?
Certain facts are brought forward to support less certain theories. the setting up of the Dutch East India Compagny in 1602 and Amsterdam increasing importance as a port, marked the beginning of an era of great prosperity for the Dutch. merchants became rich, and in their wake, lawyers, doctors, pharmacists and jewellers did too. Adrian Pauw, Lord of Heemstede, Keeper  of the Great Seal of Holland and envoy of the States General to various foreign courts, was one of the directors of the new East India compagny. his  house, which was just outside Haarlem, stood in magnificent gardens where tulips grew clustered around a mirrored gazebo. The mirrors gave the ilusion that the hundreds of blooms were thousands, for  even Adriaen Pauw could not afford to plant thousands of tulips.


Adriaen  Pauw Lord of Heemstede, Keeper of the Great Seal of Holland (1581 - 1653) 
portrait  by Gerard ter Borch (1617 - 1681)


For rich merchants, fountains, aviaries of rare birds and temples in the Greek style were standard accoutrements of the garden. But the tulip was the ultimate status  symbol, the definitive emblem of how much you were worth. In the 1980s the City traders' Porshe performed the same function, though  in a cruder way. Among the many rare tulips in Pauw's garden was the entire known stock of 'semper Augustus', the most beautifully marked of all the red and white sriped tulips of the early seventeenth century.


Pamphlet  from the Dutch Tulipomania printed 1637

Admiral van der Eijck, from the 1637 catalog of P.Cos, sold for 1045 guilders on 5 February 1637.

A note belonging to Admiraal Liefkens with the weight and prices of the tulip bulbs.
probably from the Alkmaar auction February the 5th 1637.


In the planting season of 1635, as prices began to rise, there was a fundamental change in how bulbs were traded in the Netherlands. increasinglu, they were sold by weight while still in the ground, with only a promissory note to indicate details of a bulb, including its weight at planting and when it would be lifted. the bulbs, themselves, the delivery of which was months away, were not sold, only these paper promisses. Weight was measured in aasen (azen or aces), an extremely small unit equal to approximatively 1/20 th of a gram. Although paying by weight was more fair way to asses price, an immature bulb costing less than a more mature one, it also increased the price of the heavier bulb. And, because a bulb planted in September or October likely would weight substantially more when lifted (after blooming) the following June or July, it encouraged speculation. Even if the price per aas did not change, the price of the bulb, itself, could increase three to five percent on the nine months, depending upon weight. heavier bulbs, too, tended to flower earlier and have more offsets, which are the smallest bulblets attached to the mother bulb.

By the 1640's, when tulipomania was officially over, there were thought to be only twelve bulbs of Semper augustus' still in existence, priced at 1200 guilders each. This was the equivalent of three times the average annual wage in mid seventeenth-century Holland, more or less 480 000  shekels.
If you could not afford the flowers themselves, you commissioned an artist such as Ambrosius Bosschaert or Balthasar van der Ast to paint tulips for you.


Balthazar van der Ast (1593/4 - 1657)

Balthazar van der Ast (1593/4 - 1657)
Flowers and insects

The  grand master in flower painting, the Dutch Jan van Huysum
portrait by Arnold Boonen 1720.
Even the grand master of Dutch flower painting jan van Huysum, could rarely command more than 5000 guilder for a painting. But a single bulb of the tulip 'Admiral Liefkens' changed hands for 4400 guilders at an auction in Alkmaar on 5 february 1637, while 'Admiral van Enkhuijsen' was even more expensive at 5400 guilders. The last of the big spenders bid at this auction of tulip bulbs ninety-nine lots which realised 90 000 guilders, perhaps as much as 36 million shekel in todays money. Because the sale was held in February, while the bulbs were still in the ground, each was sold by its weight at planting time, the weight recorded in azen.

 Jan van Huysum (1682 1749)

Jan van Huysum (1682 - 1749) 
detail. from Vase of Flowers 1722.


But a single bulb of the tulip "Admiral Liefkens' changed hands for 4400 guilders at an auction in Alkmaar on  5 February 1637, while 'Admiral van Enkhuysen' was even more expensive at 5400 guilders. the last of the big spenders bid at this auction of tulip bulbs ninety-nine lots which realised 90 000 guilders, perhaps as much as 30 million shekel in today's money. Because the sale was held in February, while the bulbs were still in the ground, each was sold by its weight at planting time, the weights recorded in azen. Offsets carry the same characteristics as their parents. That is why they were valuable.
In the end, there is no way to explain why tulip fever affected the solid, respectable burghers of Holland in a such an aberrant way. During a few years between 1630 until 1640 the Golden Age in the Netherlands was possessed and obsessed by a single flower called, tulip.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

NO COMMENT: Mila Huber, movement 2007


BEYOND THE DANDY, GENDER OR SUBVERSION?

A short history of sharp dressed men and moral anxieties
photo research , captions and commentaries by Marc T.

The following analyse is from Rebecca Arnold, senior lecturer in cultural studies, fashion history and theory at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and design in London. The article is a clear historical overview and the most complete study, concerning the ambiguity in the relation between men and dress. 
Since the history of dress and the establishment of dress codes, society had a dramatic impact on how men and women have to dress. The dress is much more than a protection against natural aggressions, it is an extremely coded item that has to reflect differences between sexes, social levels and appurtenances to social groups. The dress is also the ultimate way to expose and to underline cultural differences and to visualize subcultures or counter cultures. 
Since masculinity is held up as a signal of the 'norm' in Western culture, any deviation from conventional male attire is viewed with great unease. Exaggeration within the dress of those men who wish to step outside these somewhat rigid definitions has a long history, and exaggeration itself need only be slight to provoke moral anxiety. This is perhaps because to question masculinity within a strictly patriarchal society threatens the existing balance of power. Traditionally, men who blurred definitions of masculinity by expressing an overt interest in fashion were viewed suspiciously within western culture. They undermined stable ideas of men as workers and providers and slipped instead into the 'feminine' realm of sensuality and adornment.


  Oscar Wilde, a late 19th century dandy was a more flamboyant and sexualised creature, who rejected the Puritanical strictness of George Bryan "Beau" Brummel era.



During the 18th century and 19th centuries, groups of men like the Macaronis and Swells in England, the Incroyable in France, and the Dudes in America, sought to distinguish themselves through exaggerated and elaborated dress. They threw open the masquerade of masculinity, showing it to be another cultural construction rather than a given.


French Incroyables

The Maccaroni, mezzo tint by Philip Dawe 1773


In the middle of the 18th century in England, a Maccaroni was a fashionable young men who dressed and even spoke in a outlandishly affected and epicene manner. The term pejoratively referred to a man who "exceeded the ordinary bounds of fashion in terms of clothes, fastidious eating and gambling. 
The following 1770's description of a Maccaroni, in maccaroni verse style is mixing Continental affections with English nature, laying himself open to satire.
"...There is indeed a kind of animal, neither male or female, a thing of the neuter gender, lately stated up amongst us. It is called a Maccaroni, it talks without meaning, it smiles without pleasantry, it eats without appetite, it rides without exercise, it wenches without passion..."
Young men who had been to Italy on the Grand Tour had developed a taste of macaroni, a type of food little known in England, and so they were said to belong to the Maccaroni Club. They would call anything that was fashionable or a la mode as "Very Maccaroni".Similar subculture was developed in France under the name "Les Incroyables, the incredible's" and in America the Dudes. 

An extravagant English Macaroni posing for an artist

American Dudes


Masculinity was so firm a foundation of contemporary social and political institutions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, that any transgression was seen to be a betrayal of manhood, and a threat to the status of the country. Although masculinity was equated with 'culture' and femininity with 'nature', there was a very real fear of 'unnatural' masculinity. While it was accepted that gentlemen needed to demonstrate good etiquette and social poise, there was great unease that this could tip over into effeminate vanity. Any hint of exaggeration was deeply mistrusted because it was seen to indicate a subversive nature. A careful balance had to be struck between being overdressed for particular occasion and under-dressed, since slovenly costume was viewed as a symptom of indolence and immoral conduct. In the nineteenth  century, European empires grew and the thrusting explorer, soldier or industrialist was worshiped. These elements were reflected in the proliferation of uniforms in male dress during that period. While there were deviations in the style and cut of men's attire during the period, the repressive silhouette of the three-piece suit was ever present.
The dandy of the early nineteenth century, as personified by Beau Brummell in London, subverted these meanings of masculine sobriety.Instead of using overt exaggeration and elaboration to signal differences


George Bryan "Beau" Brummell. engraving by John Cook 1805


as the eighteenth century Macaroni has done, the dandy revered plainness and neatness in dress. Every detail of the dandy's dress must be perfect: dark fine wool coat, starched white linen shirt and cravat, buff breeches or pantaloons, hessian boots and soft yellow leather gloves. Dandies represented exaggerated sobriety rather than flamboyance in their dress.

"Le Dandy Chic", Robert de Montesquiou, Giovanni Boldini oil on canvas 1897.


Fashionable  young men were absorbed by inconspicuous consumption, which required close attention to, and knowledge of the quality of fabric and cut. The dandy's over-emphasis on the exterior was felt to break the Puritan ethic of humility. The sober tones of his dress only served to complicate the signals it gave off.. Dandies seemed respectable yet were obviously outside the accepted ideas of masculinity, Beau Brummel, who defined the dandy, was from a trade or service background and used fetishised neatness and plainess as symbols of restrained good taste and control. His dress exemplified the ease with the non-aristocrat could pass for his betters. He was an austere aesthetic that the upper classes followed and relied upon self-respect rather than respect from others based on rank. Dandies were sexually ambiguous, more interested in the approval of other dandies than the attention of women. Thomas Carlyle mocked them as part of a pseudo religion, playing upon religious severity and stress on a strict ritual of cleaning and washing - seemingly virtuous yet founded upon vanity.

 Thomas Carlyle 1795 - 1881
Thomas Carlyle was a Scottish satirical writer, essayist,  historian and professor at the Edinburgh University, he  was known as a controversial social commentator.



He wrote: "... And now, for all this perennial Martyrdom, and Poesy, and even Prophecy, what is that the Dandy asks in return? Solely, we may say, that you would recognize his existence; would admit him to be a living object; or failing this, a visual object, or thing that will reflects rays of light..."


Oscar Wilde's late nineteenth-century dandy was a more flamboyant and sexualised creature, who rejected the Puritanical strictness of Brummell's era. The aesthetes' love of style for its own sake was a direct attack upon conventional masculine models, and reinforced Carlyle's concerns.

Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900) photographed in New York  by Napoleon Sarony  1882


Dress was yet to be acknowledged as a means of resistance, a visual insult to stiffing norms. During the last years of the nineteenth century the concepts of both homosexuality and feminism were crystallised, and although they were unrelated, they were viewed as a joint assault on contemporary manhood: 'The challenge to young men of the turn of the century was not only to adapt successfully to the pressures of modern urban life, but to adjust to these changing standards of feminity (Barraclough Paoletti J. - Ridicule and role models as factors in American men's fashion change 1880 - 1910 in costume no19-1985.)". The line between aceptance and rejection of the "norm" was and remains thin. Certain acts of flamboyance are countenanced within male dress codes, context and tradition is paramount. Post - war youth cultures successfully lifted the mask of masculinity, by revealing that the uniformity and anonymity of the suit was itself a construction, that it was a costume which was consumed like any other, and had been perfected to the point of inscrutability by ruling classes, who visually asserted their power through their "respectable" dress, setting an example that the lower classes were to aspire to in their "Sunday Best". In the twentieth century, the groomed image of the bowler-hatted city gent sits on the 'right' side of 'gentlemanly' while the mod's obsession with detail smacks of vanity and a lack of concern for the things that are deemed to matter. Masculinity rests upon unwritten acceptance of paying attention to dress only within certain arenas, where it can be read as a sign of duty, discipline and devotion to a just cause. Concentration on style within youth cultures seems to speak of concerns with leisure, and loyalty to groups of friends, rather than to the wider concerns with which men are meant to align themselves. The mods '...seemed to consciously invert the values associated with smart dress, to deliberately challenge the assumptions, to falsify the expectations derived from such sources..(Hebdige D. The Meaning of Mod in Hall S. & Jefferson T. eds. Resistence through Rituals, Youth subcultures in Post War Britain, London, Routledge 1996).
Mods' Italian -style suits, individualy tailored and smartly accessorised, were intended to impress upon the onlooker the mod's imagined status, rather than his actual social position.

The Beatles in 1963


Neatness was a symbol of middle-class morality, yet the mod was usually working and keen to subvert his immaculate image with gestures of insouciance and defiance. Groups like the mod's and Teddy Boys before them, took the leap of imagination to construct their own status and visual code, through a spectacularised version of their dress of their supposed 'betters' . Teenagers had increased spending power by the 1950's and their role models were from the glittering world of rock' n' roll. The fashion agenda was set by those who were supposed to blindly follow, as in the days of the original dandy. Masculinity, so long the 'norm' was fragmenting images of maleness, drawn from ideas of power and status, as as the fictional and visual representations of the 'hero' had constituted, as Graham Dawson noted in the Blond Bedouin, Manful Assertions, (London, Routledge 1991): " ...An imagined identity - which -  is something that has been 'made up' in the positive sense of active creation...It organizes a form that a masculine self can assume in the world (its  bodily appearance and dress, its conduct and mode of relating), as well as its values ans aspirations, its tastes and desires...".

A London mod and his motorbike 1960's

The new role models of the post-Second World War period also challenged moralists keen to reassert the respectable heroes of sport, the military or politics. Writing just before the Second World War, designer Elizabeth Hawes had despaired of men ever dressing in a way that allowed for more individuality and self-expression. She acknowledged that men's business suits were functional and easy to mass-produce, but she felt that men could wear lighter clothes in summer and brighter clothes for parties. However, she recognized that the average man was highly suspicious of any significant change in dress, fearing above all that he might be made to look ridiculous, and the easiest way to look foolish was to show too much regard for fashion.

Elizabeth Hawes 1903 - 1971, 
 Alexander Calder, Lynn Fontaine and Katherine Hepburn were E. Hawes favorite clients.

Hawes echoed the opinion of many when she wrote in Men Can Take It: "...With all my desire to see men comfortable, I would like everyone to understand from the beginning that the very last thing I should like to see is the introduction of fashion into men's clothing. Fashion...is fast becoming one of the greater ills of our time."
Fashion brought with it not only the devil of consumerism, but also the threat to stability contained in the notion that masculinity was off-the-peg , in the same way that vain femininity was. As the century progressed this challenge to masculinity became more acute, having to search for new constructions in response to feminist, gay rights and black civil rights criticism of its bias towards white, heterosexual, middle-class ideals. Shifts in work patterns have also undermined the stoic strength of tradition. The workplace has been opened  up to women and to people of other ethnic groups. Work itself has changed, shifting away from the heavy industries towards those based on technology and public services, requiring different and less physical skills as well as different attitudes.
By the end of the 1960s, the subverted suiting of the mods was being overtaken by the decadent styles of the hippies and the psychedelic unisex of stars like Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones

 Jimmy Hendrix burning his guitar on stage, it was a "psychedelic" sacrifice of the establishment.

Mick Jagger, photographed on the set of Performance 1968 by Cecil Beaton 
Performance was a British film directed by Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg, this cult film was witnessing the 1960s.society changes. 


Mick Jagger's dishevelled bohemian style was portrayed in the 1968 film Performance and was disturbing not only because of the star's careless narcissism, but the drug-induced haziness of the masculinity that he embodied. He was heterosexual, yet flaunted long hair, and a skinny androgynous body. He was shown in Cecil Beaton's photograph taken on the set of Performance thrown back among a confusion of glittering, jewel-coloured cushions and throws, a studded leather wristband the only (albeit rebellious) emblem of masculinity.
The notion that straight men might wear frilled and colorful clothes was decried in the press. In Britain, David Bowie's mercurial image proved the definitive icon of maleable gender identity, inspiring the sparkling hedonism of glam rock. The confused messages given out by such ensembles were to cause unease on both sides of the Atlantic. In "The Morality Gap, 1976", Mark Evans claimed that such images had promoted a 'warped and perverse culture'. He saw  the use of such unisex styles as an example of how: " In recent months, rock audiences have become so accustomed to the sick, the bizarre, the violent and the obscene, that promoters  are forced to seek new depths of depravity in order to hit the Top 40(quoted in Nature Boy, The Face vol 2 no 14 1989). He expresses the long held fear that such transgressive dress will  only lead to worse affronts to morality, that visual differencesis one step away from physical protest against the status quo. Since fashion and youth culture continually need to push bounderies further, each challenge to masculinity compels the next subversion and blurred gender divisions can never be clarified again. What Evans failed to realise was that antagonising the establishment was a means to assert difference as something positive rather than frightening. Gremaine Greer in the "Female Eunuch" wrote of such young men; "...Their long hair was a sign that they did not accept the morality of the crop-haired generation of bureaucrats which sired them..."


David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, shaking morality and confirming a new era, the 1970s.


By the 1980's the notion that masculinity was as much a masquerade as femininity was represented in the flamboyant costumes of clubland once more. The New Romantics theatricalised cross-dressing for men and women. They wore elaborate combinations of real and imagined past styles, painting their faces to enhance fantasy and artifice, their escape from the natural. Vivienne Westwood's Pirates collection of 1980 epitomised this post-modern pastiche of the past as gender playfulness rather than restrictive traditions. The unisex designs combined references to real seventeenth century dress in the convex seamed breeches and square - toed  boots, with the glamour of the Hollywood pirate, dishevelled and battle-torn, in bright red and gold layers. The so called 'gender bending' of pop stars like Boy George, who drew upon this eclectic dress code, was sufficiently mainstream by 1985 for mass-market cosmetics line Boots No7 to use a male model i

Boy George, lead singer from Culture Club 1980.The multicultural statement in dress and society.

in full, pearlised make-up for its advertising campaign, with the line 'Looks  better on a girl', the ironic pay-off.
The realisation in the 1980s that there is no single stereotype of gayness had enabled gay style to be used in more areas of fashion. Also, focus on the male body and voyeuristic depictions of it reinforced the attack on a single view of the masculinity. The exaggerated style of the Buffalo Boy, and Herb Ritts' and Bruce Weber's objectification of the male body, showed that the men were increasingly required to consume to maintain a sense of their masculinity.

 
Bruce Weber for Calvin Klein, new visions about what is a man. 


Herb Ritts "new" men, the Buffalo look

Advertisements reinforced people's need to acquire the right 'look' to meet contemporary expectations. Ray Petri's styling of the Buffalo look was important because it encapsulated the contemporary approach to masculinity, bringing together cult icons of 'classic' maleness, using for example, cowboy, Native American and boxing motifs, which had strong associations with childhood dressing up games as well as their cultural resonances. It also constructed the club uniform of customised MA1 jacket, Levi 501 jeans, Dr Martens shoes and white T-shirts, garments which again present a heady cocktail of functional anonymity in their military/workwear history, stylish transcendence of 'mere' fashion and acknowledgement of current gay subcultural dress. The images he created with Marc Lebon and Jamie Morgan  for magazines like i-D and The Face were highly influential, opening up market for later men's magazines like Arena in 1986. All focused on the same concerns of though, sports-inspired style, with the emphasis on the 'design classic' creating new options for masculinity. As Jamie Morgan wrote of Petri's style: "...His  images were strong and sensitive - they showed you didn't have to drink beer and beat people up to be tough. He gave men a sense of pride in the way they dress which was hugely influential..."
This look certainly had more impact than the more extreme experiments of the time. Female designers like Katharine Hammett, who produced fluid parachute silk shirts and trousers in the mid-eighties, and Vivienne Westwood, who favoured rich fabrics and decoration in her designs, offered more sensual and playful types of menswear, but it was Jean Paul Gaultier whose gender games became the most notorious. His male sarong skirts and knee length  kilts of the mid-eighties were seen to be too direct a challenge to masculine power.

Jean Paul Gaultier mixed it all up and creates confusion..


His aproach highlighted the role playing that is the basis of the masculine (as well as the feminine). By exposing masculinity as artifice, the lie that masculinity is natural and fixed collapsed under his stylised examination. However, it was his faux gangster-style double-breasted suits that were the dominant look of the aspirational male, and only the bravest would attempt one of his beaded matador boleros. Public unease meant that the male skirt was the reserve of the nightclub fantasy. In 1995 a man lost his case against Hackney Council in London, which had banned him from wearing a skirt to work; this challenge to the official 'norm' had proved too disquieting. In order to maintain the status quo, the dress codes assigned to the masculine must not be subverted in a manner that cuts through the discipline and lack of emotion implicit in traditional styles, in particular at work. it is notable that this is also the last place in which women are often made to wear skirts, a throwback to older ordering systems. Employers are reluctant to admit that fundamental changes in gender definition and women's status have taken place.
Although there may be more scope in women's dress for subversive signals, since femininity is not traditionally so important in the power structure, both the presentation and design of menswear became more spectacular in the last 30 years of the twentieth century. Ambiguity causes insecurity because definite understanding cannot easily be reached. This detracts from the neutral status usually accorded to the masculine. In the second half of the twentieth century it was recognized that society is multicultural, that there is increasing equality of the sexes and sexuality's. This acknowledgement forced masculinity to take part in the gender debate rather than to define it, and this in turn naturally led to anger from traditionalists, who longed for a monolithic past that never really existed.


From Fashion Desire and anxiety, image and morality in the 20th century by Rebecca Arnold, Rutgers University Press.

Ike Ude,  artist and publisher Arude Magazine New York
self portrait


Ike Ude incarnates the absolute of the contemporary dandy,


 Hamish Bowles, European editor at large at Vogue Magazine,, 
is considered as the world's best dressed man.  


Hamish Bowles or the contemporary "chic"