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Rules of Elegance: Russian and British Dandyism in the 19th Century

Unfortunately  Dr Olga Vainshtein has been unable to get a visa to come to London and deliver her talk on monday.

The organisers from Queen Mary University of London have decided to hold the lecture nevertheless.

Andreas Schönle, Professor of Russian at Queen Mary University, will read Dr Vainshtein's lecture accompanied by her slides, and she will join us in a Skype link up, for questions afterwards.

We are sorry that Dr Vainshtein will not be there in person but it still promises to be a lively and interesting evening.

Alternatively, we are happy to reimburse your tickets.

The dandy was a fashionable male of the 19th century who achieved social influence by displaying distinctive elegance. But what were the specific ‘rules of elegance’ defining dandyism? What was the difference between national variants of dandyism? In her talk Dr Olga Vainshtein will interpret the dandies’ code of elegance as a system combining fashion, body techniques, emotional discipline, and strategies of behaviour. The talk will analyse the aesthetic principle of Minimalism and consider further developments in the theory of dandyism as expressed in mid-19th-century European treatises. The concluding part of the lecture will discuss the distinctive features of Russian dandyism.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A session and a wine reception.

Olga Vainshtein is Senior Researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow. She has received her first PhD in 1986 and defended the second PhD in 2005. She has taught courses on Fashion Studies, History of European Literature and Critical Theory in Moscow and was a visiting professor at the University of Michigan and Stockholm University. Her current research interests include the history of European dandyism; fashion and gender; history of Russian and Soviet culture; contemporary critical theory; and the history of ideas.

Among her numerous publications in Russian and English is her outstanding book Dandy: Fashion, Literature, Lifestyle (Денди: мода, литература, стиль жизни). First published in Moscow in 2006, this monograph is now available in its third edition. Olga has edited two volumes on Smells and Perfumes in the History of Culture (Ароматы и запахи в культуре; Moscow, 2003/2010). She is a member of editorial boards of the journals “Fashion Theory: Journal on Dress, Body and Culture”; “Critical Studies in Men’s Fashion”; “International Journal of Fashion Studies” and Russian Edition of the “Fashion Theory Journal” - “Теория моды”.

This talk is a part of the Public Lecture Series “Urban and Elegant: The Aesthetics of Living in the Modern European City” given by leading academics, which provides an overview of the European landscape of the so-called ‘elegant world’ to a broad audience and discusses specific media, spaces, and cultural practices of European urban elites and their lifestyle in the 19th Century.

The Public Lecture Series “Urban and Elegant” is organised and introduced by Dr Anna Ananieva, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at Queen Mary University of London.

More information is available at:


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 655429.


The talk will be followed by a Q&A session and a wine reception.