Every metropolis accommodates a certain range of aesthetic senses, which in turn are reflected by its inhabitants. I was reminded of this when I was in Paris recently. Here the word and concept of "dandy" is not pejorative or considered suspect as it tends to be in the US. Instead, my sense is that the term is still accorded a measure of respect, seriousness and credibility, certainly at an intellectual level. Outside of Paris, the "dandy" lacks a certain concreteness and immediacy and may even appear to be extinct as a living practice. This is true even of New York City I think. A small example of this occurred while I was browsing a bookstore after my visits with Cifonelli and Marc Guyot. I happened to spot a slim volume on essays dedicated to the dandy, which probably would never have gotten published in the states.
However, rest assured, the sartorial practices of modern dandyism are alive and well in Paris. After visiting Cifonelli, fellow blogger Hugo and I went to visit Marc and his store manager Jean-Philippe at their store and atelier, which is next to the Paris outpost of Crockett & Jones, the English shoemaker.
Marc is a very distinctive and larger than life character - shoemaker, designer, haberdasher, sartorial entrepreneur and preservationist. He bought the Apparel Arts trademark brand (yes, that Apparel Arts of 1930s and 40s magazine fame) and is designing and producing a range of soft shouldered clothing under his Apparel Arts label. He also searches for and purchases old deadstock tweeds in Scotland - vintage tweeds from the 1950s, 60s and 70s - which you can make up in made-to-measure or bespoke garments. A brilliant idea given the closure of mills and retirement of weavers over the years.
As Jean-Philippe explained to me, Marc also designs shoes for a number of brands including Carlos Santos, a Portuguese shoemaker. The examples in the shop featured semi-bevelled waists, an unusual feature in RTW shoes. Also unusual is the ability of customers to mix their own custom finish and color - a one-off color unique to their shoe. As far as I know, this is the one of the few places I know of which encourages and offers this service for customers.
The shop also does custom Italian-made shirts with French side seams, gussets and crow's feet stitching of buttons. I also saw a couple of great overcoats (see photo below). Standing in the shop, I met a few of Marc's customers and friends and agree with Hugo that the shop has the feel of an informal club.
Very interesting shop and many thanks to Hugo for arranging my visit.
- Marc's vintage sportswear line, Marcel Cerdan Heritage
- Styleforum thread on Loding shoes
- AskAndy thread on Portugeuse shoes