In life, whether real or imagined, we have seen black women wear menswear clothing — and make it into their own style. From a young androgynous Naomi Campbell for Italian Vogue to today’s superstar Janelle Monae, women have co-opted the “dandy” style of clothing that has made a resurgence the past few years and killed it in a unique way.
French magazine Blackattitude hones in on the focus that began with the Dandy Lion: (Re) Articulating Black Masculine Identity exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago to focus on a trio of female dandies. Helmed by Prisca M. Monnier as a collaboration with Nadeem Mateky, Dandy Queens spotlights three sartorial-clad models (Aurélie Lamalle, Marama Lee, Khady Diallo) as they take on the roles of American abolitionist Dr. Mary Walker Chirurgienne, frontierswoman Martha Jane Canary (Calamity Jane), and Jo March (from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women).
The dapper style, which has been a staple in African and African American culture since the 19th Century, typically finds men testing a new brim or ready to lead an ensemble in a social gathering. The exhibit opened early this past April and features images of black men dressed extravagantly from New Orleans to New Guinea. While more than 29 photographers participated in that exhibit, the Dandy Queens highlights just how fluid the definition of “dressing like a man” truly is.
The trend mirrors what is going on in popular culture with artists such as the aforementioned Janelle Monae and her artist, Jidenna. The duo are part of a representation — or style of dress — where the people wear more vintage clothes. These outfits are particularly tailored to the body type and encourages longevity of the outfit, as opposed to just following the trends. In short, whether man or woman, everyone wants to dress well and wants to spend less money because of the economy. Dandy Queens proves that gender doesn’t describe just how tough someone is, but does offer facts that timeless style is the way to go.
Blackattitude has the full editorial with more images, but it is written in French, so pull out your Rosetta Stone before you dig too deep.
On the following pages, we offer some more fellow dapper dans and dandies for your consideration.