Rarely in history has a decorative art trend become a lifestyle, but the Aesthetic Movement, which swept around the world in the last quarter of the 19th century, was a rare and wonderful exception. It was born of a delirious fusion of flat, stylized Gothic ornament with the flat, stylized ornament of Japan, and was championed by such luminaries as Oscar Wilde and James McNeil Whistler.
The predominate theme of Aestheticism was "Art for Art's Sake", which thumbed its nose at Victorian discipline and celebrated the virtues of a vague, opium-laced artistic nirvana where all women were pale and wan, all men were unbearably poetic and sensitive, and all their surroundings were simply too utterly utter, i.e. beautiful beyond the ponderous weight of description. The movement introduced such unique, if forgotten, challenges as "living up to one's china". For a contemporary take on the Movement, none is more entertaining than Gilbert & Sullivan's spoof, Patience.