“If people turn to look at you in the street, you are not well dressed, but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable.” So said Beau Brummell, the first metrosexual, 200 years before the word was even invented. His name has become synonymous with wit, profligacy, fine tailoring, and fashion. A style pundit, Brummell was responsible for changing forever the way men dress – inventing, in effect, the suit. He cut a dramatic swath through British society, from his early years as a favorite of the Prince of Wales and an arbiter of taste in the Age of Elegance, to his precipitous fall into poverty, incarceration, and madness, creating the blueprint for celebrity crash and burn, falling dramatically out of favor and spending his last years in a hellish asylum. But for nearly two decades, Brummell ruled over the tastes and pursuits of the well heeled and influential – deemed more important than Napoleon and the inspiration for Byron’s Don Juan. Through love letters, historical records, and poems, Ian Kelly reveals the man inside the suit, unlocking the scandalous behavior of London’s high society while illuminating Brummell’s enigmatic life in the colorful, tumultuous West End. A rare rendering of an era filled with excess, scandal, promiscuity, opulence, and luxury, ‘Beau Brummell’ is the first comprehensive view of an elegant and ultimately tragic figure whose influence continues to this day.
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