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The term “macaroni” was once as familiar a label as “punk” or “hipster” is today. In this handsomely illustrated book devoted to notable 18th-century British male fashion, award-winning author and fashion historian Peter McNeil brings together dress, biography, and historical events with the broader visual and material culture of the late 18th century. For thirty years, macaroni was a highly topical word, yielding a complex set of social, sexual, and cultural associations. Pretty Gentlemen is grounded in surviving dress, archival documents, and art spanning hierarchies and genres, from scurrilous caricature to respectful portrait painting. Celebrities hailed and mocked as macaroni include politician Charles James Fox, painter Richard Cosway, freed slave Julius “Soubise,” and criminal parson Reverend Dodd. The style also rapidly spread to neighboring countries in cross-cultural exchange, while Horace Walpole, George III, and Queen Charlotte were active critics and observers of these foppish men.
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