BEAU BRUMMELL (born George Bryan Brummell) British fashion plate and dandy, born (d: 1840); Brummell is included here because he epitomizes the dandy, a type that has always characterized one aspect of gay life from Oscar Wilde and Ronald Firbank to Waugh’s Anthony Blanche and the ubiquitous queen who lives in the poshest apartment on the upper east side of every fashionable city in the world. Brummell loved fine clothes and lived beyond his means to attain them. He was oh so witty and oh so bitchy.
Brummell’s glib manner also led to a break with his patron with his arrogant remark – “I say, Alvanley, who’s your fat friend?” This abruptly ended Brummell’s social life and financial credit. In 1816, he escaped debtor’s prison by fleeing to France, where he died 40 years later, penniless and ill, in an insane asylum, hounded by creditors.
His bons mots have survived him. Asked if he ever ate vegetables, he replied that he “once ate a pea.” He also claimed to have caught a cold from a “damp stranger.”
Beau Brummell is credited with introducing and establishing as fashion the modern man’s suit, worn with a tie. He claimed five hours to dress, and recommended that boots be polished with champagne. D’accord!