I recently attended London’s third Grand Flaneur Walk, organised by Gustav Temple of The Chap magazine. I’d previously photographed the gathering of stylish dandies and retro fashionistas in 2022 so there were familiar faces as well as people who were attending for the first time. The event is inspired by the concept of the urban stroller who roams the streets aimlessly as exemplified by the Parisian 19th Century poet Charles Baudelaire.
The meeting point is the statue of Beau Brummell on Jermyn Street.
The following photographs of the event were all taken in the Jermyn Street area.
Here are some of the details that caught my eye.
The following images include 1920’s inspired bobs and haircuts:
Several shots featuring Lynsey Walker in yellow:
Long hair was in evidence too; here are three men whose names all include variations of the Stuart or Stewart:
Moustaches were abundant:
More characters, stylish hats and accessories:
Among the people attending for the first time were a couple of people I know as regulars from Bar Italia. In the centre, George Skeggs aka Soho George and on the right Brian Stewart, aka Soho Hobo.
I first came across the concept of the flâneur in the lates 80s, most influentially in the feminist art history book Vision and Difference by Griselda Pollock which also referenced Walter Benjamin’s essay on Baudelaire in his book Illuminations. I remember being struck by the idea of being able to roam the city without an agenda, with full access to urban spaces which in Baudelaire’s time was limited to certain wholesome arenas for most women unless they were prostitutes. I was also interested in the idea of a fleeting, transient connection which is a theme of Baudelaire’s poem A Une Passante – the meeting of eyes with a passer-by who then disappears, which for me is also an aspect of street photography. But in photography there is a freezing and capturing of the transient moment – so it is memorialised rather than gone.
On Jermyn Street itself I noticed a man who was hanging out having cigarette and was not attending the gathering per se, yet I thought was extremely stylish and striking in his individuality in that he was wearing flip flops – prioritising his comfort in a way I identify with. As I consider myself a flâneuse I know the importance of having comfortable footwear so I can stroll ad infinitum without having to curtail my wanderings:
We had a chat and I discovered he is actually head of retail at New & Lingwood on Jermyn Street, where I’d been admiring the merchandise earlier that day. I had taken several shots through the store window -in the photograph below a man is trying on a gown; my arm is partly reflected on his back:
I couple of days ago I was strolling near London’s Cambridge Circus when I came across some street signs strewn on the ground. The signs featured arrows and were pointing in different directions. I was about to photograph them when I spotted Soho George approaching. One might assume George would take the arrow leading to Soho, but the roamings of the flâneur and flâneuse lead to unknown urban adventures …
Also published on Medium.