Carl Jakob Haupt
Text: Anton Rahlwes and Charlotte Könenkamp
A dandy has departed. The fashion blogger Carl Jakob Haupt was known for his legendary parties, controversial art campaigns and an excessive dandy lifestyle. As a result he became a unique presence in Berlin’s nightlife and beyond. At the age of just 34, Jakob Haupt, blogger and bon vivant died on Good Friday from cancer.
Hailing from Kassel, Jakob Haupt had run Germany’s best known men’s fashion blog, Dandy Diary, with his school friend David Kurt Karl Roth, since 2010. Not stopping at superficially covering prevailing trends, the pair explored every facet of fashion. The controversial duo took a critical, sometime humorous and intelligent stance on all the latest issues in the fashion industry. From fashion porn, leather trousers embroidered with gang symbolism to a fictional insider video showing child labour in an Indian textile factory, these enfants terribles of the Berlin fashion scene dealt with every subject that they considered relevant. With his distinctive verve and undeniable talent for self-promotion, Jakob Haupt played a decisive role in shaping the understanding of (men’s) fashion. After all, dandyism is also always a strategy to counter the banality of the majority society, to pick it apart and to aestheticize one's own striving for distinction. Or to use the words of the putative author Avery Puckish about the contemporary dandy Lord Whimsy: “... thus transforming it from an assembly line of mediocrity into an engine of beauty.”
The duo made international headlines in 2013 when they took a streaker to the Dolce & Gabbana show. Their concern here was to criticise the one-sidedness of large fashion houses that exploit influencers solely for their benefit and thus undermine their claim to authenticity. For a brief moment, they changed the dynamics and appropriated the show’s platform. For a true dandy, the main issue is to be independent of style and not be a direct influence on the fashion world. In 2016, they set fire to an oversized Primark bag, which symbolised undifferentiated consumption by all its customers and the thoughtless mass production of this fashion chain.
Like many dandies throughout time, Dandy Diary was famous for throwing legendary parties. Twice a year, they hosted the unofficial launch party for Berlin Fashion Week, which regularly resulted in all types of excess. One of the most controversial of these events was the circus party, for which people of restricted growth and an elephant were enlisted.
Cultivated controversy belonged to Jakob Haupt in the same way as being fashionably presented as a dandy. He was a polarising character who accomplished an amazing number of achievements in his much too short life. To quote Avery Puckish again, “He is, in short, a Mammal of Paradise and an Ambassador of Heaven.” Although you did not always have to agree with his opinion or his methods, Jakob Haupt nevertheless focused on important topics and made a lasting contribution to public discourse and the understanding of design.