Interview with Michel Barnes – and L’Etiquette

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I think L'Étiquette is the best menswear magazine in the world at the moment.

The main reason is its ability to cover bespoke tailoring and high-street casual - Caraceni and Converse - in a way that feels both easy and relevant.

This applies to both the articles and the styling. The cultural history of Lacoste sits alongside an examination of bespoke tailoring.

The photoshoots combine classic menswear brands, high-street staples and vintage. While there are always things I wouldn't wear, there are also fresh ideas around colour, texture and proportion that have me running through my closet, to see if I can recreate them.

Perhaps just as important, there are no men smoking cigars, leaning out of sports cars. There are no tumblers of whisky and women in underwear.

That felt old 12 years ago, when I first started writing, and it seems absurdly blinkered today.

L'Étiquette feels open, and accessible.

Each issue starts with a series of real men talking about what they wear. It might be a sports jacket and flannels, it might be sneakers and a hoodie: but they all have interesting reasons and perspectives.

You feel Marc and the L'Étiquette team understand all aspects of clothing - high and low, sharp and loose - and mix them with real personality.

The only downside of the magazine is, of course, that it's in French. And while my GCSE level is good enough for the captions, it gets lost in the middle of a feature.

So here, I'm pleased to say that we have been allowed to translate a piece from the latest issue, Number 3: an interview with the iconoclast and menswear obsessive, Michel Barnes.

I hope you enjoy it. If you'd like a copy of the magazine, there is a list of retailers on the L'Étiquette website. You can also order copies there if there are no distributors near you.

 

The wardrobe of…

Michel Barnes

By Gino Delmas

He is a menswear legend in France. Founder of the Arthur and Fox brand, symbol of a supple yet refined business elegance - Michel Barnes wears a suit better than anybody.

Above all, he talks about it like nobody else.

Here, he describes in detail his doubts and his obsession with tailoring.

L’ÉTIQUETTE. How do you dress in the morning?

MICHEL BARNES. Fred Astaire use to say that in the morning, he didn’t even look at his wardrobe - he just grabbed something and wore whatever he caught.

He enjoyed every piece he had. And everything matched together. That’s pretty much the same for me. I am not even choosing anymore.

É. You’re saying that because you wear a uniform nowadays? Navy suit, navy tie, white shirt, purple socks, John Lobb derbies…

M.B. Yes I dress like that at the moment, but it is not a uniform. Because it is not fixed forever. I challenge it all the time.

For example, navy. Is it the right navy? Finding the perfect navy is difficult. Maybe I made a mistake with the one I’m wearing.

In fact, I am not even sure that the good navy-blue still exists. Nobody does it anymore. Look for the right navy-blue tie. You’ll see, you won’t find it, even at specialists. It’s a quest. Nothing is endless.

For almost 50 years, from 9:30 am to 7:00 pm, I have been looking at cloths. I know the fabrics, the colours. I have the ability to tell by seeing a suit where it comes from and who made it.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve found the magic formula of elegance. I still have a lot to learn.

É. That being said, what could we find in your wardrobe today?

M.B. Sixty sweaters and cardigans produced the old way, triple thread, large sleeves. I thought they were good, but the cut and the colours have changed now.

É. How about suits?

M.B. Let’s say I have got a few of them (laughs). Every colour, every fabric, tweed, linen, single breasted, double breasted, patch pockets, pleats trousers, pockets…

They are all very different. But never with belt loops. No belts with suits.

É. Is it the case that you have tried everything, only to finally going back to the simplicity of a navy suit and white shirt?

M.B. Yes, that’s pretty much it. I got a bit lost and finally removed almost everything. But that’s the beauty of it.

To understand the making of a suit, I went to see the best tailors. Every one of them. In England. In Italy.

Caraceni? Yes of course. All the Caracenis by the way, from Milan, Rome… I learned a lot of things. What you should and should not do.

É. Did any tailor entirely satisfy you?

M.B. Some of them work very well. Anderson, Caraceni, Cifonelli. But none of them satisfied me completely. Because no one could really do what I really wanted. Even the greatest tailors of this world face the elementary challenge of the cut.

For instance, I ordered four suits at a great tailor, to see the result. It has been a year and they are still not finished (he pulls out his cellphone). It wrinkles there, it does not work here, so we continue to figure it out.

A lot of tailoring houses are making suits that are too clean. The hard thing is to have flexibility. This is what I am looking for.

I do not like when it breaks, I do not like perfect suits. When it is perfect, you are a puppet, a wax statue, like Madame Tussauds. You need looseness, imperfections.

One day, I was having lunch with a girl. She told me: “You are great but you are suspect, everything looks too perfect.” There was a small fault missing. It had a big impact on me.

É. You like flexibility? Because you talk a lot about the Brits, and they are not known for making flexible garments…

M.B. You have not understood. When you go to a tailor, he is not making the suit, you are making the suit.

I have no motherland when it comes to suits. They could be Italian, English or Spanish, there are only people that can do things. But they can miss by one or two centimetres. And that is way too much.

É. It is said that they had enough of you at Anderson & Sheppard for that matter…

M.B. That was a long time ago. When I went for a fitting, I said: “A little bit more here, a little bit less there.” And they did not like that a Frenchman was telling them that… That’s it. I love them. They love me. But I want to try things on. I want to understand how it works, and why one centimetre more changes everything.

But I want to try. I want to understand how it works and why with a centimetre more or less can change everything.

É. Does what you are wearing today satisfy you?

M.B. Almost. We are not there yet, but it does not matter. I do not want it to be perfect anyway.

Everything is in the detail. Take these trousers for example. I like the legs to be a little too short, a bit special.

I like to be noticed, without showing off. People notice that I am wearing my trousers a bit short, but they are not disconcerted by it.

I started this a few years ago. Before that, I used to wear high rise and large trousers, jazz pants, à la Jean-Paul Goude (laughs).

Now it is the opposite. I used to like large suits. Now I prefer them tight. Time changes, and my tastes as well. That means that for 40 years I might have been wrong in a certain way…

For example, when I saw Cary Grant, in North by Northwest, in 1959, with his tight suit, I remembered telling myself that he used to be better dressed in his previous movies.

But no. In To Catch a Thief, in 1955, his suit is way too large. He was always elegant, but a tighter suit was much better on him.

Style changes, but it is a matter of length, of cut. I think Jean Gabin said the three rules of a good movie were the scenario, the scenario and the scenario. For a good suit, the three rules are the cut, the cut and the cut.

É. How about fabrics, are they less important?

M.B. It’s important. I love Loro Piana, I am their biggest client in France. But a handmade vicuna coat with bad proportions is still bad.

É. Please tell us a bit about your particular shirt collar…

M.B. People do not like it. They do not want it in stores. But it is like a signature. There is no lining in it. It is very supple.

It does look like it was not made on purpose, whereas it took me 18 fittings to get to the final result. It was worth it. I never look stiff in it.

É. What puts you off in clothing?

M.B. Everything! I mean, no… nothing! Denim, maybe… or sneakers…

I like things that fit well and goes along with your morphology. That don’t make you feel that you are outside of your clothes.

I am like a professor. When I look at somebody, I look at every detail. I observe a lot. In my head it is like a style cartography of people. I could start a school about all this. I am often consulted about it.

One day, I received a phone call from John Malkovich. He came to my house for lunch. He wanted to talk fashion and was asking lots of questions.

This man is a genius because he knows about everything: politics, cinema, theatre… The next time I saw him in a cloth store in Paris at 9 :30 am without a team. He came to see the fabrics by himself. He really loves it.

É. Do you remember the first suit you ever wore?

M.B. Yes of course. I was 6 years old.

By the way, I will show you my grandson, he is 8 years old (he shows a picture on his cellphone). I didn’t tell him anything. Every evening, he wants to dress in a tie. And not just any tie: a tie of a certain quality that he saw and selected.

É. Was this first suit a gift from your father?

M.B. No, no. But it could have been. My father always wore a navy double-breasted suit with a hat. He used to love hats.

I only like very formal rabbit-fur hats, in winter. And Panamas (from a wardrobe he pulls out a dozen Lock & Co hats and throws them on the floor, and separates them with the tip of his John Lobb). Look how worn they are. After a few years, they get holes. At that point they are getting beautiful.

É. It must be difficult to be that precise and demanding, and have to sell suits yourself… How do you manage that?

M.B. We are not accursed painters. That time is over. We are talking about suits and business.

Success in this business is to reach people with a good product at the right price. That is what I do. For less than a thousand euros, I propose the best possible suit.

É. How did you start your business?

M.B. I had a 12-square-metre store on 3 floors at Rue Joseph-Sansboeuf near Saint-Lazare. I was selling 500 MTM suits per month.

I say ‘made-to-measure’ because ‘semi-bespoke’ does not exist. Either you are a tailor in a bespoke house and you do bespoke suits, or you are doing made-to-measure suits.

The suits were made in Chambéry. All the publicists came to me. Artists as well. It was a matter of price, time and choice.

I was 30 years old, it was 1969, everybody was wearing jackets and suits at the time. I had developed a denim suit, in a fabric from the United States. You wore it with a plain woollen tie, in red or yellow.

I also did wedding suits in tent fabric from Club Med. It was very beautiful.

É. In other words, elegant and modern young men came to you…

M.B. It was unbelievable. Even wealthy people came to my little store. They understood the quality I was offering at a modest price. Give me a name and I will tell you if he came to our store.

É. Jacques Dutronc?

M.B. Of course.

É. Serge Gainsbourg?

M.B. Obviously. I made him a suit. He even did a cover magazine in his suit. Corduroy, black, peak lapel, single breasted. With one particularity, the jacket was extremely short. 68 cm in length. Like a woman’s jacket.

É. Was Gainsbourg elegant?

M.B. Yes, but not as much as Gary Cooper.

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shoddy

This is great. I’m very tempted to subscribe. That said, I have a minor disagreement with my partner on the subject of my threatened subscription Les Cahiers du Cinema.

Paul Boileau

Great article. He sounds like every bespoke tailor’s nightmare…

WES WP

Your preamble to this piece should be read as a coup de grace to The Rake.

Your words, restated below, could describe every Rake magazine cover, centerfold (main spread), or Wei Koh’s ethosin general, which is indeed DOA:

“Perhaps just as important, there are no men smoking cigars, leaning out of sports cars. There are no tumblers of whisky and women in underwear. That felt old 12 years ago, when I first started writing, and it seems absurdly blinkered today.”

TRUTH

Scott

Fantastic interview!

Anonymous

The mind boggles at how much must he must have to spend per annum with Loro Piana to be their biggest client in France.

Ben

There is as good a chance that LP tells him that in order to flatter as its being true or made up by the subject. Who’s going to fact-check it?

Stephen

Hi Simon
A very interesting article. I too am also extremely supportive of the ethos of L’Étiquette.
I agree with you and Wes on the point re cigar smoking / drinking (etc.). With all we know now, I don’t think these should be shown as aspirational, for health reasons if nothing else.
I’m in my 60s and not really ‘woke’, but as for the bikini clad women, that is a very much a last century mindset.
Let’s enjoy great articles about clothing and styling ideas, aspiring to be well dressed and aware gentlemen.

Nick

The main portrait is one of the most elegant images I have seen in a while, the clothes and set are all perfect. Thank you very much, Simon for providing a translation of this interview! Have all three issues of L’Etiquete and absolutely agree with the notion that it’s currently the best menswear magazine out there

P Lewis

Very interesting read. He reminds me somewhat of the American golfer Phil Mickelson, who has the nickname FIGJAM (F*** Me I’m Good, Just Ask Me).

Also, I think he needs to wear trousers with a higher rise, those ones barely cover the nipples.

Ben

Another one of these perfectly imperfect, breezily fastidious, Astair-citing shopkeeps. I’ve been to three different Arthur and Fox locations in Paris on three different visits to the city—once during their sales season—and have never left with anything. The items worth considering carry bespoke prices.

Phil

‘Perhaps just as important, there are no men smoking cigars, leaning out of sports cars. There are no tumblers of whisky and women in underwear.’

I’m sorry but I disagree – and may make myself unpopular as a result! I have no problem with the images above, which are usually just a harmless, and not entirely serious, fantasy, and which I suspect are as attractive to women as they are to men (I’ve actually been told this by numerous female acquaintances). I love the classic Hollywood era styling of the Ralph Lauren shop in Bond St. It’s a beautiful shop, showcasing beautiful clothes. I’m not about to start dressing like Fred Astaire or Jimmy Stewart, still less buy myself a sports car, but I appreciate the dreamy elegance, romance and sheer panache of that era, enjoy spending time in that seductive atmosphere, and draw inspiration from it for the occasional purchase. Each to their own, but more modern, woke, or – God help us – ‘gender fluid’ – imagery, just leaves me cold. And none of this reflects my attitudes to life, or my view on any particular issue, simply my aesthetics. Where’s the harm in that?

shoddy

I may be over-thinking a bit, but it seems to me that the cigars, sports cars and scantily clad women issue raises at least three distinct but overlapping issues.
The first is a red flag issue about sexism, and other things too perhaps, where certain things are now just not acceptable and can’t really be condoned let alone promoted. The scantily clad females clearly fall into this category. Whether smoking cigars and fuel-guzzling cars do is perhaps open to discussion.
The second is a question of whether fine clothes need to be seen as part of a wider way of life (aspirational or actual). There still exists in luxury menswear more than a hint that its either a passport to or an essential part of being a gentleman -whatever the hell that means. It is therefore (metonymically?) linked in advertisements with various symbols of traditional gentlemanly (ie in crude terms posh) pursuits: Pall Mall clubs, stately homes, yachts, fine wines, you sir a man of taste and distinction etc.
The third issue which is very difficult to disentangle from the second is an issue of what is is to be a man (gentle or otherwise)? The signifiers of “gentleman” include those which are targeted not just at social class but at red-blooded masculinity which involves hearty rugged and ideally slightly dangerous sportiness and in the traditional model unambiguous, active and numerically successful heterosexuality. Various tastes (gambling, whisky, expensive and dangerous sports) tend towards this vision of masculinity as well as class. It has to be acknowledged that in male mass culture there has traditionally been a need when dealing with menswear to avoid seeming either precious or gay (not to mention probably an unfair assumption that those two things might be connected).

I think it’s somewhat helpful to break this down before coming as the question of what if any wider context should menswear be placed in the modern age. It may be that in our contemporary diverse world no such context can be assumed. Maybe that’s why the traditional Rake/ Ralph Lauren/Hackett/James Bond stuff is difficult to shed. And why you may wish to steer clear of trying to identify too closely with any contemporary replacement ideal (hipster/aesthete/modern urban dad?)

Jason

Shoddy,
Nothing too shoddy about this analysis.
Can you send me the name of your therapist ?
I thought it was all just about dressing well and having fun !
Regarding the supposed decline of ‘The Rake’ – I just think it has become a prisoner of a very tight brand identity. It’s a shame because they have published some good stuff buy heyho, maybe they will broaden their horizons.
Salutations,
Jason

shoddy

Salutations to you too, Jason.
Of course it should be fun. But I think fun and seriousness work best in balance. And when you dress up, it can’t really be dressing up as “character who likes dressing up.”
If only I had been born a men of leisure; but if I were I think I would have liked to be Charles Ryder’s father, rather than Bertie Wooster.

Dan Ippolito

I tend to agree with Phil; I don’t smoke and drive a compact Prius because of my environmental convictions; those convictions (along with my professor’s salary and my traditional tastes) also lead me to buy most of my clothes from vintage retailers – it’s a form of recycling, after all. On the other hand, every time I go to Chicago I visit the Ralph Lauren store, not to buy anything, but just to soak up the atmosphere and daydream a bit.

Jason

Quel flaneur !
Nothing too self obsessed. Just a cm there and a cm there – they must really look forward to seeing him. And the bit about him having to go home to ruffle himself after a lunch date found him too perfect. Priceless n’est ce pas ?
That withstanding, he does seem to have got his shirt collars correct.
Regarding l’etiquette itself, I looked at their first edition and found it a little cold. Personally I’ve nothing against cigars, whisky tumblers, nice cars and scantily glad women.
In fact my style bible and reference points remain my cherished copies of Spring/Summer, Autumn/Winter 1970 ‘Men’s Vogue’. Happily that was a time when flaneurs were flaneurs and women were glad of it. Both copies are deliciously populated with beautiful women !
Mais malgre tout ca, isn’t what’s really missing in men’s publications today is a sense of humour ? Whatever happened to the days when people could have a full on belly laugh at themselves. Things simply don’t have to be so serious and certainly checking yourself out in a shop window as you flaneur on by is laugh out loud funny. Self deprecation a strength in short supply.

Robin

I love it !
The obsessiveness , the French awkwardness , the perfectionist streak etc .
It’s all there.
He is everything a PS reader turns into .
I’ve certainly obsessed over sleeve length ( WHY OH WHY CAN’T THEY ALTER IT JUST RIGHT!!), trousers length, shirt waists etc

More of this please , Simon.

Anonymous

Simon
Might I make a formal request that you ban the use of the word flaneur?
Best
Gregoire

Anonymous

I would like to second Gregorie’ formal request.

Dan Ippolito

I, too, would like to second Gregorie’ formal request.

Anonymous

Make it a third…

Den

Awesome read, always enjoy your posts to start the day.

A follow up would be would awesome in regards to who may and if ever, satisfies Michel Barnes bespoke needs and who the maker of those 4 suits are.

Fatih

Si tacuisses… Why is it so hard for some people to just dress nice and stylish and be silent about it? This “look how perfectly imperfect I dressed”-attitude gets more than cliché and turns itself into a joke.

Martin

I haven´t smoked a cigar in my life and I drive a VW golf but this kind of arrogant sartorial grandstanding seems to me not much different from the cliché attitudes of the rake guys. The same goes for B. Boyer and the legend who gave granny advice to punk rockers.

Phil

Sorry to belabour the marketing imagery point, but it’s something of an interest of mine. As to supposed sexism and misogyny, I’m certainly not defending the vulgarities of Lad mags, which were never my thing, even when I was young enough to be called a lad.

However, I’m reluctant to dismiss these things entirely, or assume the authority to pronounce them offensive to women, as if the female sex respond as one to certain issues – a rather patronising assumption I think.

This is purely anecdotal, but I once had a girlfriend who loved those kind of images, and told me her ideal man was James Bond, but ‘the early one, not the wet woke one we have now’.

Perhaps she was very unusual. Or perhaps not.

And this also works both ways, was the Nick Kamen Levis Jeans ad sexist? Or misandrous? Did it objectify men? Or was it just a great ad that used sexiness as a selling point?

I suppose what motivates me to write these posts is a weariness with overly earnest, message led campaigns – such as the new Burberry one I happened to see today, which shows an assemblage of every possible demographic group, everyone given equal time, and equal prominence. It’s as if we are all being given a little lecture on tolerance and sensitivity. Begg also had a Pride themed collection last year. Again, it’s not that I necessarily object to the ideas put forward, rather that I don’t appreciate the assumption that I need the lesson.

These companies sell coats and scarves. I’d prefer it if they just focussed on that, rather than trying to tell me how to think about the world.

JB

The questionable ethics of semi naked women aside, I just find it tiring that the whole idea of a “gentleman” is still cigars, velvet jackets and million dollar sports cars. Ask any real person and they’ll tell you that the small things go a long way. Offering your seat on the tube, holding the door etc. Dressing well is all fine and dandy, but it has nothing to with being a gentleman.

TC

I agree that L’etiquette is probably the best out there right now, and I also agree with those that bemoan the decline of the Rake.

I think l’etiquette is what the Rake used to be, and makes it about the clothes, the stories, and the man on the street, instead of the new uber-commercialization and the grown fraternity party lifestyle for a handful of friends.

WES WP

My challenge with Alexander Kraft, for instance, is that he uses Ralph Lauren as the singular lens through which to see the world. I am not unlike him in the sense that we’re the same age, and grew up with the same cultural signposts (like the TV show Hart-to-Hart, 70s and 80s James Bond as self-caricature, and a time when Jaguars were still beautiful cars), but I think he fetishizes Ralph Lauren. If you look at his Instagram, there’s rarely a time when he’s not at Ralph’s (restaurant), or at a RL flagship or boutique. And I get that he’s a “brand ambassador,” but he and Wei Koh spend a great deal of their time promoting Ralph and Brunello Cucinelli (how many times has The Rake done a puff piece canonizing BC?). Kraft would have you believe that Ralph’s vision should be “the singular vision” (Kraft even patronizes Cifonelli – the Parisian tailor – exclusively because it’s where Ralph shops for his custom suits).

I, too, chafe against the androgyny in men’s fashion (of recent years), but that’s because all I’ve known for decades is some form of Bond, or McQueen (Steve), or Clooney, or Grant, or Newman. And yes, those iconic men (and their images and lifestyles) are hard to shake.

Clearly, I have a love-hate relationship with The Rake and with Kraft. They are holdovers from another time (just as Tom Ford’s notion about formalwear and when to wear a tux is a holdover), but there’s a part of me that is nostalgic for that time: whether it’s wishing that I were and adult living in Paris during the Left Bank YSL period of the 70s, or that I had hung onto my YSL-Ford pieces from years ago and could proudly rock them now – or would want to – which I don’t).

So that love-hate thing? I’d love to see The Rake improve – because there are so few men’s magazines that get much (of anything) right. Some Japanese mags (like Men’s Precious or Leon) offer beautiful product placement and merchandising (it’s clothing porn, plain and simple), but those publications offer no analysis or commentary what-so-ever.

To that end, this is something I’d written to Wei last year. I’m pretty sure he’d read it, because he’d responded to me in the past. At the same time, I am not someone putting anything out there month in-month out (like Simon is, like Kraft is, like Koh is). So, in that sense, I’m an armchair idiot. But I was hoping to make a small “editorial” difference in my own self-important way.

I wrote to Wei:

In The Rake
– Some of the pieces have been beyond fluff. There was one story on a newly-invigorated British brand, profiling the woman who’s the new managing director. I’ve interviewed many people in my life – and I’ve never seen a more surface piece that got that much space in a publication and said, and told the reader less.

– There seems to be too much attempt at monetization. Of course “Rakecommends” “recommends” because it’s often your magazine selling a product that you’re going to profit from either through ad revenue or the sales of the product (or so it seems).

There’s zero objectivity there (or maybe I’m dead wrong).

– It feels like you have a very heavy hand as an editor. All of the pieces feel like they’re written by the same person. Your elan as a human being – particularly vis-a-vis your diction choices (whether we’re talking “inchoate” or something else) – seeps into every article. Your voice (or so it appears) dominates – and drowns out the actual writer. I don’t know if Tyler Brule does it as intensely as you appear to do – it seems he does it less so. I get that it’s your magazine, but there’s such intense uniformity that I creates a kind of drag.

– I’m not averse to being sold to – it’s just – make it worth my while. Take me inside of a boutique and show me the store – show me lots of pieces – show me places that I couldn’t otherwise go. Push the subject past the scripted: “We’re a heritage brand,” and “It’s in our DNA” (it’s the equivalent of the Shark Tank cliche when the pitcher says: “Help me take this business to the next level with your investment”)

How many times do your reporters and writers get more than that from a subject? Not nearly enough. It just not interesting anymore.

But I think there are pieces that you could do more with (as I’m suggesting), and more of. I loved the Singapore design firm that masculinizes a man’s home or closet or garage – that was something to take note of.

I don’t, entirely, understand some of the centerfold photo shoots. The clothing is not really anything I’d wear – and it feels a bit avant-garde or even hipstery (like the skateboard shoot, or the ones that are in the outdoors – generally – on the beach or in the wilds).

I also cannot, under circumstances, understand shooting in B&W. The entire point of fashion photography in a man’s magazine is for us to understand the colors and the contrasts (of real colors – not chiaroscuro lighting). Sometimes you have large swaths of the mag in B&W and I just think – what a waste. What am I supposed to get from this? Art? I want to understand what it looks like.

Anyway – I’m sure all of this is utterly useless. I don’t have the skills or ability to launch or run a magazine or a business – and you do – and you have – but I thought I’d throw in a shit-ton of nickles.

With love – and hope –

Wes

Matt S

What an excellent interview!

I completely agree about not being able to find the right navy-blue tie. If they’re the right hue, they’re too dark. If they’re not too dark they’re too teal.

Joe

Brilliant!

John

Hi Simon,
Great post! I’ve really enjoyed reading this interview! The most important takeaway from it could be: “When you go to a tailor, he is not making the suit, you are making the suit.”
My experience with Arthur & Fox: over the past years, I had bought three RTW trousers from them. It’s stunning! I had never been disappointed: the fabrics, the cut and the make had always been of high standards.
Now, what do you think of Barnes’s following assertion, namely: “For a good suit, the three rules are the cut, the cut and the cut”? Nothing else?
John

colin macdonald

Love this guy, just wish I spoke French. Any chance of it going to English Edition?

Rik

The mention of Cary Grant reminds me of this very classy piece he wrote for GQ in the late 60s https://www.gq.com/story/cary-grant-on-style

Rik

I thought you’d like that line, Simon. This one too: “wear, not only your clothes, but yourself, well, with confidence. Confidence, too, is in the middle of the road, being neither aggressiveness nor timidity.”

Anonymous

That article (or its editor) does a great job of capturing Grant’s distinctive vocal mannerisms, so much so that I can’t help read it and hear his voice in my head while doing so.

With all the talk of movie screen idols as “style icons” in the comments sections of several recent article, it’s funny that the focus of the conversation has been on the likes of McQueen; I’d argue that Grant would be a more fitting encapsulation of this particular site’s ethos. Strange that the commenters btl

Paul

Hi,
what about his tailoring? Any experience? His under 1k€ caught my attention and am wondering if I should go check them out.
Kindly

JB

As entertaining as the interview is, I feel mostly sorry for the man. He complains about the worlds top tailoring houses, that suits wrinkle etc, yet he doesn’t want perfection. Sounds to me that he doesn’t know what he wants, or is just striving for something that doesn’t exist.

Furthermore, the way I read it he finds no joy whatsoever in dressing. He is never happy and in constant search for perfection. I obsess over details sometimes, sure, but it’s just clothes in the end. It’s a bit of fun, can’t take it too seriously.

Peter

You are quite right. It’s just a clothes. Nothing more, but material. If there is fire it will burn and you can -in a moment- have NOTHING.

Augustuspenn

May I register another vote to ban “flâneur”? Most of us readers of PS don’t spend our time, or buy our clothes for, idle and preeningly visible strolling, so aren’t, unlike the adventuresome, wealthy retiree, actually flâneurs at all. One of the virtues of PS is the relative absence of attitudinizing—a topic germane to the interview with Barnes’s role-playing and much of the reader commentary above. And attitudinizing is the apparently permanent style that “flâneur” as vocabulary choice and as occupation evokes.

Augustuspenn

Ban the comment? No. But the word? For a site designed for those who aspire to be gentlemen, a request to the self-styled flâneur should be enough.

Kaarel

Long-time reader here, I don’t usually comment but I have to say I love the word “flaneur”, especially when it’s preceeded by “any self respecting” and his light-hearted comments.

Evan Everhart

I have the opposite reaction. I absolutely detest and abhor the word. It seems so very pompous and pretentious to me. Every time that I see it, I cringe and literally roll my eyes in borderline nausea. Not trying to troll. Yr reactions and opinions are yr own, I just had to release the pressure valve of my continual reactions to a certain commenter who insists upon regularly utilizing that word.

Zeke

Hi. If someone wants to flaneur, let him flaneur away. I agree that Mr. Barnes is ever seeking his perfect imperfection. All power to him. Everyone has to have their passion or quest. Mine is finding the perfect thifted brown cap-toe. Great work as usual Simon.