Born on 7th of June 1778
Died on 30th of March 1840
The archetypal dandy, Beau Brummell was notorious during his own lifetime not least for his famous put down of the Prince of Wales: “Alvanley, who is your fat friend?” His advice on using champagne to polish one’s boots and taking five hours to dress every day were also calculated to provoke.
Born George Bryan Brummell on June 7, 1778 in London, his father, Lord North, left him £20,000 in 1794. This furnished a gentleman’s lifestyle as an undergraduate at Oriel College, Oxford where he first earned the sobriquet “Beau.” On graduating he joined the 10th Light Dragoons but resigned his commission on learning he was being sent to Manchester.
Already a confidant of the Prince Regent and his circle he was valued for his wit and elegance, and ultimately it was his clothes which gained which gained him the most lasting attention. Brummell pioneered a modern style of dressing moving from ornate colourful frills, powder and wigs to a more restrained look which was to become the dominant style of dress for men during the next two centuries. Brummell favoured a plain well-fitting dark coat, trousers – daringly revolutionary in that age - as opposed to breeches, and a cravat. He also pioneered hairdressing, regular bathing, shaving and cleaning his teeth.
Falling out of favour with the Prince Regent, Beau Brummell’s popularity was at first not affected and he was to retain loyal friends throughout his life. However his reckless gambling and extravagant lifestyle began to take their toll. In 1816 he was forced to flee to France to avoid debtor’s prison. First in Calais and then in Caen he lived in considerably reduced circumstances, in spite of a brief period working for the consulate in Caen. Finally reduced to penury and suffering from syphilis his last days were spent in an insane asylum in Caen where he died on March 30, 1840.
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