L’homme aplomb

While not as vis­i­ble as his bri­tish or ital­ian sar­to­rial coun­ter­parts, the French gen­tle­man plays to his own set of aes­thetic rules, Writes stephen short

Hong Kong Tatler - - October -

The French gen­tle­man plays to his own set of aes­thetic rules

that out­stand­ing up­stand­ing eye­ful of a tower, Napoleon Bon­a­parte, po­etry, Mar­cel Proust, cham­pagne and the guil­lo­tine. And in mat­ters of men, from the clas­sic, leisured flan­nels of Yves Saint Lau­rent and the pre­cise mode of Hu­bert de Givenchy to the el­e­gant sim­plic­ity of a Her­mès jacket, the pen­cil slim of Dior Homme, the post-prep of Mai­son Kitsuné and the hip and slick of Hedi Sli­mane’s Saint Lau­rent, no­body does con­tem­po­rary ur­bane non­cha­lance with quite the same je ne

sais quoi. But the French gen­tle­man, dandy or aris­tochap—a Champs-élysées equiv­a­lent of Lon­don’s Sav­ile Row or Rome’s finest? Mais non. The French gen­tle­man’s phi­los­o­phy of dress is dis­tinct from the Bri­tish aris­to­crat’s af­fected in­sou­ciance, or the swag­ger­ing pea­cock­ing of Mi­lanese and Neapoli­tan males. A French dandy is more stud­ied in his taste, and his style walks the line be­tween tra­di­tion and flam­boy­ance. Parisian style is there; you just have to know where to look for it and how to recog­nise it.

Fas­ci­nat­ing it is, then, to dis­cover in the open­ing chap­ter of The Parisian Gen­tle­man— a new tome by film di­rec­tor, blog­ger and all­round flâneur Hugo Ja­comet, the grand­son of a boot­maker and seam­stress—that of the four tailors fea­tured ex­tolling the virtues of be­spoke French fin­ery (Ci­fonelli, Camps de Luca, Francesco Smalto and Arnys), only the last is French. And Arnys was bought by Bernard Ar­nault’s LVMH in 2012 and merged into Ital­ian shoe­maker Berluti, which LVMH is de­vel­op­ing into a full line of men’s fash­ion and ac­ces­sories.

The fact that the other three are Ital­ian is a re­minder of the long shadow Paris haute cou­ture has cast over the city’s history as a home to mak­ers of ex­cep­tional gen­tle­men’s req­ui­sites. Ital­ian de­sign­ers moved to Paris in droves in the 1950s and ’60s, at­tracted by the ca­chet of be­ing based in the fash­ion cap­i­tal of the world and by the French econ­omy, which was more ro­bust than Italy’s. These for­eign tailors were faster, neater, cheaper and of­ten more ex­pe­ri­enced than their French ri­vals, and they took the lo­cal menswear in­dus­try by storm. One, Francesco Smalto, moved from Rome to Paris in 1962 and dressed heads of state, in­clud­ing France’s Fran­cois Mit­ter­rand and Morocco’s King Has­san II, right up to his death ear­lier this year. The late Mario Luca, who learned his trade in a vil­lage east of Rome, fol­lowed a sim­i­lar path. Af­ter build­ing a name for him­self as one of the top tailors in Paris, he founded Camps de Luca in 1969 with his busi­ness part­ner, Joseph Camps. His son Marc and grand­son Charles now over­see the brand, which is still based in the iconic Camps de Luca build­ing on Place de la Madeleine.

The Ital­ians may dom­i­nate the French tai­lor­ing mar­ket, but Paris still con­tains a daz­zling port­fo­lio of high-qual­ity French shirt-, shoe- and ac­ces­sory-mak­ers. Charvet, shirt­maker ex­traor­di­naire, best em­bod­ies this cul­ture. Set up in 1938, it has just one out­let, at 28 Place Vendôme, and it’s like nowhere else in the

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.