Imitating Noel Coward


One of the most renowned bon vivants of the dinner party circuit in the 1920’s was the urbane and sophisticated Noel Coward, the son of a failed piano salesman who wrote about the rich with such wit and insight that they simply assumed he was one of them. So impeccable were his skills at self-creation with his “thin veneer of sophistication,” his persona was not only the inspiration for Cary Grant, but scores of others hoping to copy his inimitable style.

Coward claimed that he habit of wearing flamboyant silk dressing gowns was purely functional, “wonderful things to play in because they’re so comfortable to act in.” Nevertheless, they caused quite a stir, and he welcomed, if not courted, the publicity. They weren’t so much regarded as feminine as they were subversively antimasculine. Still. he persisted in flouncing about in them during interviews until they became his trademark, a symbol of the new Jazz Age–loose, smart and glittery. He was as well known for the way he dressed as for his literary successes and stage performances. “I took to wearing coloured turtle-necked jerseys,” he said, “more for comfort than effect, and soon I was informed by my evening paper that I had started a fashion.”

Cecil Beaton noted that “all sorts of men suddenly wanted to look like Noel Coward–sleek and satiny, clipped and well groomed, with a cigarette, a telephone, or a cocktail in hand.”

Literary Source




~ by eaesthete on 01/06/09.

One Response to “Imitating Noel Coward”

  1. What a strong and arresting face. It’s common to read Coward’s quips but rare to see the face. It’s easy to imagine why he would have been on everyone’s guest list.

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