Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891

Lettres

Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

The thing better than not being talked about.

Penned upon the 5th of November, 2006

Sir Frederick appears in today’s Age, on the cover of the M liftout, for an article by Mr Andrew Stephens describing the tradition of Australian dandyism. Mr Stephens, and M editor Ms Michelle Griffin, offered this tradition as a counter-point to the image of the colonial male as a hard-drinking, long-spitting sheep-shearing machine who’d kill you for wearing socks that match.

Alongside fellow clotheshorses such as a boutique owner and a local sculptor, Sir Frederick is quizzed on the art of living. Sir Frederick is not a dandy, of course, but his practice of the Romantic ideal certainly has its commonalities with the broader definition of dandyism and, perhaps, the Australian lineage of splendid, urbane men – a lineage traced by Mr Stephens to such figures as impressionist Mr Charles Conder and satirist Mr Barry Humphries (both at right.)

In the article, Craft Australia director Kevin Murray theorises the dandy as one who fashions an entire world and set of values in a manner ‘paticularly theatrical: the world is a stage, and you’re one of the characters.’ Milliner Richard Nylon ponders the noblesse oblige to keep the artisan sector in business – a noble goal. Sir Frederick himself discusses manifesting one’s beliefs and aesthetics in every aspect of one’s life.

Off the page, this stands in contrast with the rising generation’s preference for an impersonal, even souless calling which provides the material lifestyle they crave. In this opposition, a continuity runs from the pantheistic genius of the Romantics to the modern Greens movement and the philosophy of Deep Ecology – but more on that later, as the election nears.

Sir Frederick was wearing a grey four-button linen sack coat by Prince Henry, an aubergine waistcoat by Ms Turnher and Shot By A Rascal, navy pinstriped trousers, a spread-collar shirt, a red silk cravat by Gentleman’s Jabot, a violet silk pocket square by Shot By A Rascal, a grey homburg by Akubra with a peacock feather, and wing-tips by Vegan Wares.


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Commentary upon “The thing better than not being talked about.”

  1. Odin Jones was heard to remark,

    Upon the 8th of November, 2006 at 12:20 am,

    An auspicious lineage indeed.Bravo!


  2. Sir Frederick Chook was heard to remark,

    Upon the 8th of November, 2006 at 4:02 pm,

    Cheers, old man!


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