The Errant Æsthete
Welcome to the pages of the Errant Aesthete where meaningful discourse, thoughtful utterance, amusing anecdote and enlightened chatter flourish and thrive amid a kind of antiquarian sensibility. Think moonlight and magnolias. Or the last days of colonialism. Where fascinating people with stories to tell and cocktails to share, preened, posed and pontificated with relish on the details of the day, the scandals of the night and what Proust fondly remembered as the inanities of the quotidian.
Think of it like a night on the town in the poshest spot on earth where the beautifully turned out and the endlessly charming cavort, spar, entice and beguile with rich observation, breathtaking insight and gossip of such renown that, ultimately, it could very well restore charm, intellect and civility into this brutishly gauche and prepackaged world. With the return of the time honored cocktail soiree and the revival of old world charm where grace, comportment and aesthetic sensibilities ruled the day, I prefer to think of the Errant Aesthete as a civilized establishment of fellowship, conviviality and a cocktail or two. An aperitif perhaps. One might think of it as putting real swill back where it belongs.
While some may scorn an Errant Aesthete as a pretentious artiste, a EA is a genuine original, a roving adventurer with a refined sensitivity toward all things beautiful, exquisite, deliciously de rigueur. Like a traveler straying off the beaten path, EA’s are endowed with style, class, and unerring aplomb who move in an aimless or lightly changing manner, hence the phrase — an errant breeze.
True Errant Aesthetes tend to be their own finest creations with a sense of self-invention so compelling, provocative and original that she or he can’t help but invoke everything from imitation to outrage, ridicule to envy. Blessed with the courage of their own convictions, they are extravagant, creative, opinionated and innovative — always the life and, alas, often the death of every party. But oh, what a time!
If one could imagine life as a grand and glorious soiree and who’s to say it’s not, the Errant Aesthete would be the interesting looking stranger with a standing invitation, the one impeccably put together, a pastiche of color, texture, flair and unknown origin (Goodwill or Gucci, hard to tell) whose every gesture is nuanced, every quip mimed. Their self possession is such that they seem to know what everyone else is thinking, saying, reading or hiding, but are far too polite to say so.
Errant Aesthetes are the most revered, admired and emulated self-inventors among us. Their numbers are legion, their lives the stuff of legend and lore. From Cary Grant to Holly Golightly, Noel Coward to Coco Chanel, Gerald Murphy to Diana Vreeland, they elevate the ordinary to the sublime, raising the bar of imaginative pretense with audacity, cunning and originality.
Whether it be the opulent and self-assertive Marie Antoinette who, even at the guillotine, controlled her image to the very end attired in a radiantly white ensemble, or the English playwright, John Osborne, who met his fate buried in a Turnbull & Asser smoking jacket with a favorite edition of Hamlet with all the parts crossed out except the protagonist’s. What it comes down to in the end is that all human works of art as the Marchesa Casati, Madame Castaing, Lord Byron, or Cecil Beaton so well understood, was the simple adage of Machiavelli: appearances are real. You are what you pretend to be.
To Errant Aesthetes everywhere, past, present and future: Join me in raising a glass to the cocktail swilling savant in us all.