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'The Day of the Peacock' celebrates 1960s dandy style

April 18, 2011 | 10:08 am

9781851776009 Fur coats, ruffled shirts, velvet blazers. There's no mistaking the sartorial hallmarks of a dandy.

In "The Day of the Peacock," a new book by veteran fashion writer Geoffrey Aquilina Ross, dives into the habits and predilections of the 1960s British fop with the aplomb of a feather-topped fedora.

The 144-page coffee table tome, which debuts in the U.S. in early May, chronicles the cultural arc of the "Peacock Revolution," as the men's style movement became known as, from the opening of seminal dandy Carnaby Street menswear boutique John Stephen in 1956 to the dawn of understated power dressing in the 1970s. 

Peppered with full-page historical images showing the wild (and often deeply weird) looks of the era, the book examines the tailors, rock stars (the Rolling Stones), retailers, magazines and even the modeling agency (English Boy) that advanced the Peacock Revolution, taking on a particular subject or individual with each new chapter.

In the introductory chapter, Ross writes: "It was in the early 1960s ... when journalists and social commentators became aware of flamboyant changes taking place in the way many middle-class men in London dressed. As if overnight it was as acceptable for me to take care about how they dressed as it was for women."

Ross notes that "velvet suits or jackets, accessorized with brightly coloured, flowing silk scarves," in addition to longer hair, were the benchmarks of the British dandy — the first generation of men who strove to dress completely unlike their fathers.

"From many young men there seemed to be a growing demand for a more liberated choice of of clothes that would match the radical change in women's fashion ... fired by young designers like Mary Quant," he adds.

While certainly niche in its scope, "The Day of the Peacock," which will retail for $45, tells the stories of a joyous fashion rebellion that opened the door to androgynous modes of dress that have helped shape modern style.

A welcome read in this hyper-masculine, heritage brand-heavy moment in men's fashion.

-- Emili Vesilind

Photo: The cover for "The Day of the Peacock." Credit: V&A.