Unconventional style, ordinary chaos, and the pursuit of self-expression conveyed through personal and charismatic uniforms. Dandies have traversed centuries of social rebellion to land in the contemporary era with unconventional aesthetic codes that push the boundaries.
Metamorphoses of classic male images are set against traditional backdrops, giving life to unique stylistic experiments that play with details without ever being out of place.
Today, as in the past, devotion to beauty and a liberal approach manifests in looks capable of breaking every rule to present oneself to the world as unique and timeless creatures.
Velvets, tailored suits, and wide-brimmed hats, along with decorative elements that surpass daring and evoke British echoes; but also speed, well-dressed attire, and studied poses are just some of the characteristics defining contemporary Dandies, echoing those of the past with illustrious names like Oscar Wilde, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Beau Brummel, Lord Byron.
Philosophy, sociology, art, and culture converge in a blend indicative of the journey into beauty that still leaves in us a lingering desire for indulgence. Surrounding the imagery: classic watches, vintage cars, and motorcycles. Winning details that allow us to reach – today through Instagram – into the hearts of those who, captivated, let themselves be drawn into living canvases inhabited by cosmopolitan spirits.
From Europe to Africa, passing through Asia: we’ve circled the globe to tell stories of strong styles and personalities, diverse yet bound by a common denominator: fashion.
Dandyism, from a social phenomenon, has transformed, under the weight of the years, into a social media phenomenon, turning contemporary men into international personalities who love to publicly share every detail, becoming protagonists of a game in which to lose and find oneself. If dandyism is an ever-evolving phenomenon that doesn’t seem to be giving way to other trends, the only question left is:
Who are the true dandies today?
SYLE IS LIFE : Daniele Tamagni, Master of street fashion photography – by Luca Marotta
Our previous editorial, dedicated to the Dandy, concludes with a truly special photograph by Daniele Tamagni, who, in the 2000s, left an indelible mark on photography capturing spontaneous fashion trends emerging on streets worldwide. His innovative gaze seamlessly blended photojournalism, street photography, and fashion into a distinctive style. Documenting the styles and trends of fashion in the streets, he testified to their political and social value. In his photos, clothing becomes identity, immortalizing the pride and joy of urban communities for whom “style is life,” as the exhibition title suggests.
Milan, his city, will finally host a significant retrospective exhibition in his honour.
The exhibition, “Daniele Tamagni: Style Is Life,” will open to the public on Friday, 9th February 2024, at Palazzo Morando|Costume Moda Immagine in Milan (Via Sant’Andrea 6). Curated by Aïda Muluneh and Chiara Bardelli Nonino, promoted and organized by the Daniele Tamagni Foundation in collaboration with the Municipality of Milan, it marks the first major retrospective of the Milanese photographer, winner of prestigious international awards, who tragically passed away at 42 in 2017.
The exhibition, showcasing 90 photographs, including some entirely unseen, provides a comprehensive overview of his most significant works, carefully curated by the exhibition’s organizers.
The journey begins with the Congolese sapeurs of SAPE (Society of Animators and Elegant People), also known as the “dandies” of Bacongo, a district in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. Tamagni’s photos reveal the style and colours of their clothing, accessory details, as well as the taste and joy of life. From the origins of the movement in the early 20th century, sapeurs reinterpreted the style of French colonizers, using ostentation, luxury, and sophistication as tools of cultural resistance within their communities.
The exhibition also features Tamagni’s 2012 project on the metalheads of Botswana, capturing the afrometal movement at its peak. As a guest of a heavy metal group created by the grandchildren of an Italian psychologist who built the country’s main mental hospital, Tamagni immortalizes the daily lives of the artists, leading us into an “African dark” imaginary.
Next, we encounter the symphony of vibrant fabrics in the traditional costumes of Bolivian wrestlers, the cholitas, recognized by their pollera, a distinctive skirt challenging traditional gender roles and embodying concrete and positive forms of female empowerment through wrestling.
Tamagni’s street photography showcases the young urban crews of Johannesburg, originating in a politically repressive context where fashion, once again, offers a means of identity repositioning in a reimagined and liberated society. Through his 2012 photos of “Joburg Style Battles,” Tamagni initiates photographic conversations, collaborative art exercises representing a diverse and vital scene of style and performance populated by dance crews like the Vintage and subcultures like the Smarteez. The photographer documents this mosaic of stories, styles, and individuals where fashion is a tool to express and represent hard-won freedom.
The exhibition continues with a section dedicated to Dakar Fashion Week, where Tamagni captures intimacy and spontaneity backstage at Senegal’s fashion shows. In 2012, few international photographers were present to document what is now the flagship event of African fashion.
The exhibition concludes with a section showcasing the works of the first three winners of the Daniele Tamagni Grant, established by the foundation to not only celebrate Daniele’s artistic legacy but also affirm his connection to Africa by supporting the training of emerging photographers in partnership with the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg. Founded by David Goldblatt in 1989, before the end of apartheid, the school stands as the leading African educational institution in photography.
Daniele Tamagni’s work has always been guided by his great empathy towards others, by his ability to capture in a smile, or even in a simple accessory worn, the depth of the emotions of every human being. This is perhaps his most important legacy.