/ˈdæn.di/ n [C]
A man, especially in the past, who dressed in expensive, fashionable clothes and was very interested in his own appearance.
Where have all the Dandies gone?
Long time passing…
These days, when it’s common to see men stepping out for the evening sporting the same Hot Pocket-filling-stained t-shirt they slept in the night before, we may need a return to Dandyism more than ever. O where art thou, Adam Ant?
In early 1981 Adam and his band of merry Ants crawled all over the music video scene with STAND AND DELIVER, an ode to Dandyism that blasted the drab, unkempt 1970s to bits.
Like all Adam and the Ants videos, STAND AND DELIVER – co-directed by Mike Mansfield and Adam himself – is cheeky modern social commentary, arrived at in this case by placing the early 1980s in the context of Georgian England.
The clip features Mr. Ant in fully made-up glory as a dashing “dandy highwayman” who robs the elite, only to find they have nothing much worth stealing. Their clothes are dull and their record collections hopeless. What’s a poor highwayman to do?
Instead of a gun or a knife, he strikes his victims with the most painful weapon of all: the mirror! Yes, forcing them to view their own boring reflections is his diabolical (and dashed clever) scheme to shake up the establishment.
Armed with his looking-glass ammunition, the Dandy Highwayman next leaps right through a window (getting bonus points for actually performing this stunt!) and lands smack in the midst of a stuffy dinner party.
This of course infuriates the nobleman at the head of the table, who sentences Adam to hanging. In a rescue stunt worthy of Will Turner and Jack Sparrow, one of Adam’s Ants cuts the noose in the nick of time, and our Fairbanks-esque hero is free to roam the countryside once more, boldly confronting the fashion-challenged with their own inadequacy.
Though Adam became a huge star in both the UK and the US, and despite a truly noble effort, he never fully succeeded in bringing Dandyism back to the mainstream. In fact, he was often condemned by his peers for playing dress-up.
“At the time,” he has said, “there was quite a lot of criticism for groups using video, or people thinking that video was getting too important. They didn’t like the idea of musicians acting.”
Personally, I sense just a twinge of jealousy on the part of his fellow musicians because Adam looked like this:
When they looked like this:
But maybe Adam Ant was just born a century or two too late. His dramatic flair, his sense of whimsy, his killer style, his Oscar Wilde humor … his, well, Dandyism, would have all gone over swimmingly in the Scarlet Pimpernel days.
The good news is that Adam has recently been reported happy, healthy and poised for the next phase in his colorful career. Fine and dandy by me! Stand and deliver, Adam.