Germantown-based author Shantrelle P. Lewis is over the moon.
The 39-year-old scholar and curator of the coffee-table book Dandy Lion: The Black Dandy and Street Style has been optioned into a television documentary by 44 Blue Productions as well as Viola Davis and her husband Julius Tennon’s JuVee Productions.
The team will executive produce the show, based on the historical — not to mention colorful — look at the history of black men’s bold, tailored fashion in Africa, the United States and the Caribbean. Dandy Lion was published by Aperture last May.
“I’m overjoyed to bring this project to television,” Lewis said in a press release. “Today when race sits at the center of many conversations, Dandy Lions argues how style has and can be a tool of resistance.”
44 Blue Productions bought the rights to Dandy Lion last year. The Los Angeles-based company produces non-fiction docuseries, reality, lifestyle and action adventure programming. Their roster includes A& E’s Wahlburgers, Nightwatch, and E!’s Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry Juvee Productions develops and produces independent film, television, theater and digital content; projects include the films Lila & Eve (directed by former Philadelphian Charles Stone III) and Custody, both starring Davis, as well as the indie film Night Shift. The series is in the early stages of development, and as of now no release date has been set.
The Dandy Lion docuseries will chart the history of the black fashion dandy from his roots in 18th century through the late 19th and early 20th century Edwardian era through the 1940s Zoot Suits. Today dandyism is defined by the marriage of bold prints — that range from funky checks and florals to ankara prints — and traditional British tailoring. In the last five to 10 years, the style has regained popularity with trendsetters and social media influencers that include Philadelphia-based designer Wale Oyéjidé of Ikiré Jones as well as former basketball player Amar’e Stoudemire and musicians Jidenna and Janelle Monáe.
Against the backdrop of hip-hop culture that involves conversations around police brutality and gender, Dandy Lions will also, according to the press release, explore how black men and fashion choices can be a matter of life and death.
Davis currently stars in How to Get Away with Murder, the Philadelphia-set Shonda Rhimes drama that has netted her three Emmy nominations and one win, making her the first African American woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama.