Scant few live lives like Sebastian Horsley’s. Born in 1962, Horsley was an artist and writer who lived the majority of his life in London. Initially seeking acclaim as a painter, Horsley’s artistry increasingly extended beyond the canvas, eventually permeating all aspects of his life in true bohemian fashion. Horsley’s chosen descriptor was ‘dandy’, a term within men’s fashion that is not only highly contentious but also possesses a multiplicity of meaning. This lecture focuses on understanding Horsley’s relationship with dandyism as a historic tradition, drawing on three archetypes: the Brummellian consumer, the Baudelairian artist and the Wildean celebrity. It explains the gradual fusion of Horsley’s life, art and dress, tracking the development of Horsley’s personal style into a set of theatrical signature styles worn for public appearances. Drawing on extensive interviews, institutional and personal archive material, the lecture describes the tension between performance art and performative identity present in Horsley’s dandyism and its significance within his wider biography.
Fenella Hitchcock: Trained in design and pattern cutting, Fenella Hitchcock is a writer, historian and lecturer specialising in fashion and cultural history. Her postgraduate thesis was centred on the life, work and dress of Soho ‘character’ and self-proclaimed dandy Sebastian Horsley, and inspired by work undertaken within the Museum of London’s fashion and decorative arts archive. Her work is underpinned by a broader interest in masculinities, sexualities and biography. She is an associate lecturer in Cultural and Historical Studies at London College of Fashion and within Kingston University’s Faculty for Art, Design and Architecture, as well as Editor of The Costume Society blog.