The Definition of “Gentleman”
The vocabulary defines the Gentleman as “… he who reveals nobility, distinction and extreme correctness and loyalty in human and social relationships …“. This definition refers primarily to a person’s character setting. Therefore, sensitivity and nobility of mind are the characteristics of a Gentleman.
Today the figure of the Gentleman mainly concerns fashion, becoming synonymous of luxury and refined elegance.
Being a Gentleman vs Being a Dandy
The Gentleman, unlike the Dandy, rejects fashion completely: the famous elegance of the gentleman wants to be classic and timeless, without external conditioning, very personal.
The Dandy makes a mockery of rules, without ever transgressing them completely, but he has no model to follow and he doesn’t want to be a model.
Lord George Bryan Brummel, called Beau Brummel, is considered the very first true English Dandy, aimed at asserting what he had most unique and original: his persona. He took great care of his own image, nurturing his English vanity and putting himself on par with a work of art. Assumed elegance and manners above all other values as the foundation of life.
Baccio Bacci – Pomeriggio a Fiesole, Tuscany (Detail)
The Modern Gentleman
Mr. J. Brett Prince.
Being a Gentleman is Timeless
The Gentleman is strong in his timelessness, in his attachment of symbolic values which he assumes immutable and eternal. Technology has nothing evil in the eyes of a gentleman, unless it prevents him from living according to his ideals.
Aesthetically speaking the discourse does not change: the clothing of a gentleman is always the same, in contempt of fashions, trends, the market of consumerism is and aesthetics that are strange to him.
The Gentleman obeys to his rules, always dressed elegantly adapting perfectly to the context in which he is, without being noticed too much and without wanting to distinguish himself particularly.
Television produces passenger and faulty models, so that they can sell new ones shortly thereafter, repeatedly, stating that “these are better than they were before”. It’s consumerism, baby.
The first books about the gentleman are dated the end of the sixteenth century. Here the gentleman is criticised because He is crude and attentive only to his own horses; in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries It was deplored that, although assumed to models of good manners, these gentlemen were crude, uncivilised, wicked with their servants and lovers only of their dogs of race and hunting.
John Locke, in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, writes an educational manual for the son of Lord Edward Clarke of Chipley. It will be the new formative model of the ruling class based on the social needs of the élite of the time and will become the manifesto of liberal individualism and bourgeois education.
His backhand will be the education of children of popular extraction, seen simply as men to be initiated into forced labour.
In the nineteenth century the textbooks still note the fact that many of the gentlemen turn out to be compulsive gamblers, negligent in dealing with their neighbours, insensitive, ignorant, drunkards and sometimes violent. From the nineteenth century onwards, even though the character is always considered superficially, We find the invitations to cultivate more often one’s own personal culture, one’s own interests, to open the mind and not allow oneself to go to extremist opinions.
Today we can say that the gentlemen who call themselves such, reveal their superficiality and above all their love for luxury toys: cars, watches, boats, custom-made clothes, cigars and fine wines.
Modern Gentleman by Keenan Barber
If there was a manual of the perfect gentleman and everyone would follow it, a mass of brainless emulators would come out of it and stick to rules ridiculing anyone who is not part of their “pack” of gentlemen. What an absolutely vulgar and horrible thing, that unfortunately, many who define themselves gentlemen punctually do.
Curiosity, openness of mind, artistic interests, moral and cultural elasticity: these are the basic foundations of a person who would like to be an excellent gentleman.
The Gentleman is a way of being and behaving towards the world, there should be no rules that describes it, since it is an attitude to be built with culture, openness and grace.
In some literary works the figure of the gentleman is often approached to the figure of the libertine, of the pleasure-loving man, in search of pleasure as the only value of life.
Doriand Gray and The Gentleman Figure
In the famous Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde written in 1890, the protagonist gentleman lives his life as if it were a work of art and for this must preserve his youth as if it were a value. Disinhibited and dissolute to the point of arriving to moral decay. He lives life in an empty, contemptuous and superficial way, driven by the obsession of passing time. He comes to stipulate a pact with the devil: eternal youth, in exchange for his soul.
Thanks to this exchange, the boy will not grow old and will remain as he is portrayed in his portrait: young, handsome, bold, uninhibited. This magical spell also establishes that it will be the painting to grow old in place of Gray, who thus becomes his alter ego, the mirror in which his corrupt and impure soul is reflected.
Wilde through Dorian, describes the aristocratic world made of superficiality and incoherence.
In addition to this, some authors have written real manuals on this subject, analysing as well as the way to put on the gentleman’s way of dressing and interacting.
The TDP Gentleman Range
We at The Devil’s Playground were enormusly inspired by the Gentleman figure, so much that we decided to create our own version of Gentleman. The Devil Gentleman, always elegant, rejecting the stereotypes.