Elegance and Style – when Daniel Lismore met Tyne O’Connell
“We were at a dinner for the Eccentrics Club…
you were like a sculpture… such elegance, such style….
and then we clicked… we clicked over the portrait of Lady Violet.”
Living artwork Daniel Lismore and author and dandizette Tyne O’Connell discuss the emergence of eccentricity as a quintessential aspect of the British character.
The British eccentric emerged with Queen Henrietta de Medici, wife of Charles I. Henrietta commissioned Orazio and Artemesia Gentileschi, to paint walls sand ceilings at Greenwich and collected their work along with Guido Reni and many of the Dutch and English masters of the time who had been attracted to live in London by the opportunity and energy of the city.
But the real emergence of eccentricity as a definable and desirable quality took place in The Restoration when Queen Catherine of Braganza the great eccentric cross-dresser began hosting Masques and Balls. With Charles II on the throne a new spirit of freedom and creativity emerged and the London aristocracy took to it with characteristic British enthusiasm – drinking, dancing, original music, fantastic costumes… all elements that would come to define Britishness. It is from here that those of an eccentric persuasion found space to express their personal take on elegance and style.
At the heart of this creative explosion was the Restoration Woman. Think of the great architect Lady Elizabeth Wilbraham or the legendary playwright Aphra Behn. London flowed with champagne and dangerous ideas. Salons run by women such as those of the extraordinary style maven Margaret Cavendish where at once scandalous and at the same time the place to be seen, the place to be. Clothes and fashion were the vehicle to express wild “mad” ideas.
The following centuries saw the eccentric modify style but that core element of a society having in its soul a love and respect for the different, the individual, the quirky the sometimes peculiar, sometimes bonkers never left. It’s still an essential of the British character to this day and long may it be so. All hail the British eccentric!
Eccentrics originated in Mayfair London