My final stop in Paris was Camps de Luca on Place de la Madeleine. When I walked up to the second floor and stepped into the atelier, I asked for someone who could speak English and out came Charles de Luca who is the young cutter, tailor and heir to the de Luca name. Charles is quite passionate about his work and legacy and that is reflected in the time and effort he very graciously lent me in showing the tailoring and workrooms.
One of the first things he said was, “Let me talk about the chest.” He took me to the workroom in the back and pulled out a sample chestpiece. In the de Luca chest, the layers are pressed and shaped to create a very distinct ripple or drape in the chest. He pushed the chest piece together between his index finger and thumb to indicate the swell. This, he said, is the “power point” for the Camps de Luca cut, creating a shaped chest. I found the chest treatment (and his explanation) absolutely fascinating. If you like Kilgour, for example, you might find its Continental cousin right here at Place de la Madeleine.
Regarding the chest, Charles noted the Italians (especially the Neapolitans I would note) like to keep the chest “free” and easy. He also noted that he will take away padding depending on the shoulder of the client. The norm at Camps de Luca is usually 2-3 fittings.
Other salient elements in the de Luca cut and style: roped sleevehead, the Camps revers and details such as the ingenious little raindrop pocket (in the left lower front). He also showed another fine detail: the finishing of the side vents in which the matching fabric on the inside is folded and pressed over to match the outside flap.
Charles very kindly allowed me to walk through the workrooms and take photos of the various workstations. As you can see, they maintain specialized workers for buttonholes, lining attachment, etc.
Quite astutely, Charles describes bespoke as an education unto itself for clients today, to which I agreed wholeheartedly. Today's customer is different from the customers of yesteryear. But the future looks bright as increasing coverage in French men's magazines such as Edgar and Monsieur seems to suggest. They also have a new website up and running. As we wrapped up, Charles kindly offered to send me over to his bespoke shoemaker, Pierre Corthay. He phoned the store and said Pierre himself would be there to receive me. Now that is indeed hospitality! Many thanks to Charles for spending part of his afternoon with me.
A concluding note to Paris. As a group, Parisian bespoke offers an intriguing hybrid of Savile Row and the Italians (Rome in particular). My Parisian visit might be subtitled “Notes on the chest”. Indeed, it has strengthened my view that the chest and shoulder must be considered in unison. On the discussion forums, nearly everyone focuses on the shoulder, neglecting its necessary counterpart, the chest.