Getting a tailored suit is more than just obtaining a garment, it’s about the story behind it and the experience of having it made.
There are many ways to experience a tailor, and many stylists willing to dress you to your best. A lot of world-class tailors live on some of the most renowned streets in men’s fashion. London’s Savile Row, Fleet Street and Jermyn Street to name a few. None more though, than the capital of men’s elegance, Rue Marbeuf in Paris.
I’d like to take you back to the very beginning of this shrine to male fashion, Cifonelli. The tailoring specialist, founded in 1980 by a man named Giuseppe, was built upon a passion for chic Italian elegance. His son Arturo moved the company to 31 Rue Marbeuf half a century later, and was the cornerstone for what is today one of the worlds most legendary streets in the business. He studied at the Ministers Cutting Academy in London and returned to Paris to combine what he’d learnt about the precision of English tailoring, with his fathers’ passion for Italian softness and comfort.
Today, still obsessed with delivering the experience that we all expect from our tailor, Arturo’s grandsons maintain what is one of the most revered businesses in the industry, with over 130 years dressing men in the best cut fabrics the world has to offer. Keen to internationalise the business, Cifonelli launched their first ‘Ready to Wear’ collection in June last year. But the passion for bespoke menswear lives on. As you walk up the stairs in Rue Marbeuf, you approach a large wooden door, which Cifonelli say is ‘open to anyone with the curiosity to open it’. It’s like the store doubles up as a museum to historic tailoring.
If you live in London, it may be a stretch to make the trip out there, especially since at least three trials are needed on your first purchase, but the Cifonelli brothers travel the world meeting clients, so make one trip out there. I mean, and lets be honest, you’d like your suit to tell more of a story than what it’s made of so while putting it on, remind yourself of the effort you went through to get it, the journey you took, the people you met along the way, and the staircase that took you up to the Mecca of suit tailoring.
Luckily, we’ve just such a weekend planned out. Taking the Eurostar from London to the Gare du Nord in Paris on a Saturday morning will get you to there in just over two hours. The New Hotel is directly opposite the train station and is simple, central, and elegant in it’s own way. Breakfast is served in a basement that looks like a stylish mid-evil chamber where you can enjoy croissants, toast, cereal and I kid you not, the greatest coffee I’ve ever tasted. Served with hot milk of course, this is mainland Europe remember. The rooms look out over the station, and a line of exquisite restaurants. A local scooter hire company will deliver a Vespa to your hotel to allow you to tour the city in a Parisian way, and collect it when you’re finished, for less than £60 a day. Rue Marbeuf is just a 20-minute ride from the hotel, provided you don’t decide to take a detour around the city; because let’s face it, there’s no better way to travel around the French capital. Once you arrive and push open that wooden door, you’re greeted by two of the world’s best suit tailors, with an impressive lineage, and your story begins to take shape.
Cifonelli will dedicate around 80 hours to the making of a suit, with Milan-style buttonholes, step collars, half belts, and special lapels. The link between tailor and customer is uncanny. Getting the whole story is what tailoring is all about, making that look in the mirror as you fix your tie, all the more gratifying, so let your journey begin.