George Bryan “Beau” Brummell is credited with being the world's first celebrity.
Style icon and arbiter of men's fashion in regency England (1800-1814), Brummell
pioneered the modern men's suit and the industry of bespoke English tailoring as
we all know it, defining elegance through understatement, simplicity and reservation
of colour. The Beau also encouraged men to bathe regularly and to take their grooming,
toiletry and shopping as seriously as women did at the time. Brummell was not of
the upper class establishment, although his father’s position in government afforded
him a privileged upbringing, including short stints at both Eton and Oxford. And
though he received a considerable inheritance, he didn't possess nearly as much wealth
as the men he influenced, including his good friend the Prince Regent, who named
Brummell his official “sartorial advisor” before their friendship eventually went
sour. Beau Brummell eventually lost everything as a result of his gambling addiction,
the syphilis that ravaged his body and mind, and by taking for granted the friends
who made him. But everything Brummell had gained in reputation he earned by his
style and charm. The Beau taught us about style, elegant understatement, how to rise
above class limitations, and most importantly, that no man's tailor should be more
famous than the man himself.
“Beau Brummell taught me everything I know about style!” says the Duke.
London blokes still taking advice from the Beau.
The Beau Brummell statue on Jermyn Street, London
James Purefoy as our favourite Beau Brummell in Beau Brummell: This Charming Man
Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Man of Style by Ian Kelly, our favourite Beau biography.