In 1683, Thomas Bond purchased a Piccadilly mansion called Clarendon House from Christopher Monck, 2nd Duke of Albemarle. He demolished the house in order to develop the rural area. Bond Street was put on the map. It became a stylish shopping street and fashionable residential address, the home of Lord Nelson, Jonathan Swift, Edward Gibbon, Henry Fielding, Laurence Sterne, Joshua Reynolds, James Boswell, and others.
During the third quarter of the eighteenth century, Bond Street was hit by the ‘macaroni craze’. In its inaugural issue, the editor of The Macaroni and Theatrical Magazine (1772) explained that the word macaroni was used with reference to ‘a person who exceeded the ordinary bounds of fashion’. Named after the pasta dish that Grand Tourists brought back from their travels, the macaroni was typified by tight clothes, oversized sword, walking stick, fine shoes, and an extravagant wig.
The macaroni was a dandy and a buffoon. The word appears in David Garrick’s play The Male-Coquette (1757), which features a character named the Marchese di Macaroni. The earliest reference to the ‘Macaroni Club’ occurs in a letter of Horace Walpole to the Earl of Hertford, dated 6 February 1764. Although there is no evidence that such a club ever existed, the image was consolidated in the public imagination.
Macaroni wigs represented decadence and effeminacy. The appearance of the macaroni re-ignited the debate about the dangers of foreign fashion and, as a consequence, the loss of British masculinity and the rise of homosexuality. By 1884 the word macaroni was still defined as ‘something extravagant to please idle fancy’.