I’m making a great paisley shirt for a lady in Germany at the moment but because the customer is buying it for her husband’s Christmas present, I can’t tell you about it. Ssssshhh.
So instead I thought I’d tell you where I got the ‘Dandy and Rose’ name. Back in early 2011, I was trying to think of a name that said ‘English western shirt’; I wanted to tie the idea of western styling with the Englishness of the Liberty prints I was using and, let’s be honest, the Englishness of me. Because I am very English.
It wasn’t easy. Then one day I was out and about in Lewes, where I live, and was browsing in a shop called Wickle. It’s quite quirky, and very Lewes. That’s all I’m saying.
I thought it was so pretty, with all the embroidery and appliqué, and practical too. The first thing that caught my eye was the stamp with the words ‘English rose’ in the corner.
And then I noticed the word, ‘Dandy’ on an embroidered label on the side. Now, this was at the time when I was starting work on my MA dissertation, which was called ‘Hillbilly Deluxe: Male Dress and the Performance of Country Music.’ It was about the spangly suits that country singers wear, sometimes called ‘Nudie suits’, but also designed and made by Nathan Turk, Rodeo Ben, and these days by Manuel in Nashville and Jaime in North Hollywood. And just a couple of weeks earlier, I’d written a review of a show by the great Texan honky tonk singer, Dale Watson, where I’d commented, ‘what a dandy he is!’ And he is too. So dandies, men who lavish time and attention on their appearance, were something that preoccupied me. Especially dandy cowboys. I spent a lot of time tracking down the history of this song:
with its poignant verse
‘He kissed me and hugged me and I called him my dandy
The Trinity’s muddy and The Brazos quicksandy
I kissed him and hugged him and called him my own
Then down by the river, he left me alone.’
That’s the girl’s version by the way.
Suddenly I had my name – Dandy & Rose. It was one of those times that you rack your brains for ideas, then suddenly, chance brings the answer.
The labels are the work of my very talented MA classmate, Cecilia Ziko. I asked her to include a hummingbird because I love them, and because my favourite dandy quote was one that Jane Carlyle wrote in her diary in 1845:
‘Today, oddly enough, while I was engaged in re-reading Carlyle’s Philosophy of Clothes Countd’Orsay walked in! I had not seen him for four or five years.Last time he was as gay in his colours as a Humming Bird—blue satin cravat, blue velvet waistcoat, cream-coloured coat lined with velvet of the same hue, trousers also of a light colour—I forget what—white french gloves—two glorious breast-pins attached by a chain—and length enough of gold watchguard to have hanged himself in. Today, in compliment to his five more years, he was all in black and brown—a black satin cravat, a brown velvet waistcoat, a brown coat some shades darker than the waistcoat lined with velvet of its own shade and almost black trowsers—one breast-pin—a large pear-shaped pearl set into a little cup of diamonds—and only one fold of gold chain round his neck tucked together right on the centre of his spacious breast with one magnificent turquoise. Well! that man understands his trade!—if it be but that of Dandy; nobody can deny that he is a perfect Master of it, that he dresses himself with consummate skill! velvet of the same hue, trousers also of a light colour—I forget what—white french gloves—two glorious breast-pins attached by a chain—and length enough of gold watchguard to have hanged himself in.’
You can just hear Jane’s joy in the sight and contemplation of the Count, can’t you? Me too! I love a dandy!