Chato Lufsen: French vintage and modern recreations

Monday, August 22nd 2022
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By Tony Sylvester

From the kilo stores to the more specialised outlets, Paris is a city with an enviable array of vintage menswear options.

This spring, Simon filed reports on two of the best. Le Vif in the 16th, with its highly curated focus on Americana, co-founded by two chaps who cut their teeth at Ralph Lauren. And Brut in the Marais, where French workwear and militaria shares space with reworked and recut pieces offering more contemporary styling.

For me, however, no journey to the City Of Light is complete without a little jaunt a couple blocks over the Seine. In the heart of the Left Bank lies perhaps the most niche and specifically Parisian vintage-menswear destination: Chato Vintage.

This small store on a chic, unassuming backstreet is packed to the rafters with clobber and trinkets from the most cult of all defunct French houses, Arnys.

In the last instalment of these articles of mine from Paris, we caught up with one of the style architects of Arnys, Dominique Lelys, and his vision for continuity and progression at Artumes & Co.

Here on Rue De Verneuil – the Bohemian street where perhaps the most infamous French style icon of all time, Serge Gainsbourg, made his home - owner Christophe Lufsen (below) has created part store, part clubhouse for what he calls “les orphelins d’Arnys”: those distraught at the institution closing in 2012, or those like me who missed out on it during its seventy-year tenure as outfitter to the intellectuals and cultural mavens of Le Rive Gauche.

It was a health scare and an extended hospital stay that jolted Christophe into the world of retail. After years as a civil engineer, he wanted to inject a little passion and purpose into his working life, and try and make a living from his first love, clothing.

Five years later, his cramped shop mixes Arnys items with simpatico pieces from the upper echelons of French craftsmanship: Hermès, Vuitton, Berluti, Seraphin et al, although Arnys accounts for 90% of vintage sales.

Aside from a biannual browse of his inventory, I’m here as part of an ongoing search for a replacement for my trusty old Forestiere jacket.

The scarcity and skyrocketing prices of this Arnys model in the second-hand market means I’ve decided to look for something made by a contemporary brand that can fulfil the same purpose. Fortunately, alongside the ever-changing deadstock and pre-owned pieces, Lufsen offers two jacket models inspired by the Forestiere: The Borestiere, a straight and faithful recreation, and the Bores, a slight redesign/tinker with the familiar formula (below).

As a purist, I had my mind set on the Borestiere. I love the original design and own a couple of winter weights - one in moleskin, one in corduroy - plus one summer weight in unlined cream linen. Top of my mind was another unlined one, perhaps in a darker colour and more of an all-rounder, cloth wise.

I waxed lyrical about the origins and my love for the Forestiere in a piece I wrote last year on artists' clothing. As I stated then they can "slot seamlessly into a wardrobe, taking on a similar role to a chore coat or an unstructured chore coat”.

Since I wrote that piece, these kinds of ‘easy’ jackets have taken an even more prominent role in my post-retail, work-from-home life. I seem to have jettisoned most of the tailored jackets in my wardrobe for these hybrid work/casual garments.

Tebas and vintage tartan 49ers from Pendleton all fulfill this role very well, but the Forestiere has a certain extra resonance, and perhaps a little more romance, with its perceived history as being the uniform for a certain type of French gentleman; a little older, maybe a little fuller of figure, and less interested in the frivolities of fashion. Someone I aspire to, basically.

The inspiration for Lufsen’s updated version, the Bores, came from his experiences shopping at the original Arnys store on Rue de Sèvres as a young man.

Having seen the brand on the pages of Monsieur magazine, he ventured to try a Forestiere for himself. After asking for his size, the salesman brought one out ,but its generous, oversized cut was simply unsuitable for his smaller frame. Despite enquiring after a smaller size, the notoriously surly staff were unwilling to let him try one, insisting that this the way the garment was to be worn.

The experience meant that although Lufsen continued to shop with them, he never did buy a Forestiere. The Bores is therefore his attempt to offer a more conventionally proportioned version, perhaps with a slimmer-bodied customer in mind. (Similar in some ways to the way Colhays have redesigned the cuts of Lockie cardigans and knitwear to achieve the same goal.)

The tweaks are not instantly apparent, and I think have negotiable effect on the overall much-loved character and look of the garment.

There’s a shortening in length; a repositioning of the breast pocket further away from the armpit; a slight raising of the shoulder seam so it doesn’t drop as much. But most significant is a move in the placement of the button under the mandarin collar.

It has been raised from three inches below the collar to directly below. The effect is twofold: when latched, the look is cleaner, smoother and doesn’t tend to hang or bunch, and when open, it helps the heavier collar fold over and drop like a lapel.

Lufsen explains that, in his mind, the Forestiere and by default the Borestiere fits and functions as an overcoat, while he envisions the Bores more like a sports coat.

I’m instantly sold. Trying on the ready-to-wear examples, the differences between the size 56 Bores and the size 56 Forestiere I have brought with me are quickly apparent. Indeed, the Bores fits comfortably underneath the other, making the differences in length equally obvious (above).

It’s also evident I will want a made-to-measure version. I try a toile of a size 60 as a sort of hybrid between Lufsen’s innovations and my original intentions, to maintain that big look I’m going for. I even add 3cm in length to cover my posterior adequately.

For cloth, I opt for a nifty ‘summer cord’ from Solbiati in black. A linen base is ridged with cords of cotton for a more breathable, breezy take on the winter-friendly fabric. As a colour pop, I choose a goldenrod-yellow half lining – in keeping with the renowned colour combos of Arnys. Chato’s elephant-decal metal buttons look just right on top.

Price wise, the ready-to-wear Bores and Borestieres are available in a range of seasonal house cloths for €790 Euros, with a €200 Euro surcharge for made-to-order. Made-to-Measure is available for €300 over base pricing, and turnaround is approximately six weeks from order. I begin counting down the days until the finished garment’s arrival.

Below: Vintage Arnys raincoat in polyester, with the feel and look of washed, brushed silk

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Did the Arnys staff really act like this? Wow. No wonder they went out of business. I used to regret that I never got the chance to visit the shop, but not anymore.


Middle ground would be giving advice to customers without being too pushy. That’s absolutely alright, that is what I try to do. It still can be done in a bad way, like that time when I was helping my friend to pick his wedding attire. The shop assistant just couldn’t shut up with her “white is the only proper colour” talk, even though me, the groom and the bride made it clear that its out of question. If the customer doesn’t want advice, it’s his choice, even if I think that the end result is bad. But that’s pretty mild compared to what Tony mentioned. I can’t imagine telling a customer that they can’t try something on because I feel that their style is bad. If that happened to me, I’d probably leave and slam the door behind me. Politeness goes both ways.


Why do people like that aesthetic? Why do people want to feel themselves left bank intellectuals? The harkening back to the high age of French culture, to the existentialists, the cubists and the surrealists, the Hemingways and the Celines, the Lacans and all the rest – what does this longing reveal? What is this fantasy a symptom of? Do people want to look like imagined anti-bourgeois creatives because they lack the opportunities to be actual anti-bourgeois creatives today? Do they miss the creativity? Or the status? Or the anti-capitalist rebellion? I mean, speaking objectively, the forestiere is not a particularly attractive design. It is too big, not well proportioned. Only in the context of the contrarian snobbishness, consecrated by its Frenchness and Leftbankness, its imperfections become charming. But there are many other pieces of clothing that could have been in its place – starting from the $10 fleece jacket that some of todays contrarian creatives wear. My point is: instead of trying to buy things, which makes one feel as if he something he is not, why not just be what one fantasizes of being. A Rolex will not make you a Bond, a Speedmaster will not make you a cosmonaut, and a F/Borestier will not make you a Van Gogh or a Sartre…


Hi Simon, yes, would be intetesting to hear some opinions. I have visited Arnys in 2012, just before they closed down. I do recignize its cult status, I even bought one if their artisanal ties. I really liked their color palette, it was exquisite, and I appreciate that Dominique Lelys is still working. Yet, I think most of the value that people find in Arnys (and the reason they pay so much for second hand Arnys) is about this fantasy of the French half-aristocrat, half-intellectual. Please prove me wrong. Or explain why and whence this fantasy comes from


To me, the charm is the mystery of the French intellectual – ,although we Anglos have plenty of our own, they don’t really come with the sexiness of our Gallic cousins.
As AA mentions and Tony illustrates, the colour palate is unique. Not Latin and certainly not WASP. My wife describes it as African-tobacco with a splash of la Gloire
As the UK and USA continue to be more world influenced and diverse, I predict ( as our casual style blurs into the tailoring space) we will eventually mirror this palette.


Aren’t fashion and style the constant reshuffling of social and cultural signifiers? I suppose the most potent symbols would come out of moments that burned hot with passion and meaning. So artists, warriors, and other powerful figures would often be in the mix. I imagine that designers and stylists will have various combinations of these histories in mind as they move the pieces around to reflect the current mode. It’s only fantasy in the sense that humans are always dreaming of the future in the language of the past.


This is an interesting and slippery topic. When we see an item that we like, what exactly is the process that triggers the “like”? I don’t believe that there’s a simple answer but I am convinced that it is a projection of a “better/different you”, alongside a recognition of beauty that you want to capture. We then look at clothing in the mirror before we buy to check the fit, but also to determine if the reality gets close to the vision. After all, that’s why we almost always ask our partner “so what do you think?”. That vision is highly complex to analyze – but it is certainly external.
I think this complexity is captured perfectly in this contradictory summation from AA:
“My point is: instead of trying to buy things, which makes one feel as if he something he is not, why not just be what one fantasizes of being.”
There is no difference logically, or even aesthetically, between wanting to be what you’re not and fantasizing. No drive to project the “external you” is wrong…or right.


I think to a lesser or greater extent men (I can’t speak for women) tend to think of themselves inhabiting a world and lifestyle dressed in a certain way. I once knew a menswear retailer who told me when a man tries on a suit he sees James Bond rather than himself – an exaggeration to illustrate the point I was making above. I bought a Gloverall Duffle Coat a few years ago. I was on the bridge of a warship in The Cruel Sea, my wife thought Corbyite ! ( that was not a compliment.
Generally though, I think the whole clothing thing sometimes gets a bit overthought. Or I am just incredibly shallow! As I’m sure Simon and others, have stated “it’s only clothes”.

J Crewless

Love a good heated discussion ?. Nicely articulated.

Jack Williams

Hi Simon and Tony,
One of the aspects of Permanent Style I value in my many years of following this site, is the politeness and respect for the opinions of others. The motto should be Permanent Style, Permanent Civility. That said, I do agree that AA does make some interesting points.
We all have images of ourselves in the clothing we purchase – images that differ widely and images that may have their origins in the past, in a brand, or associations. Tony’s style fits his frame beautifully. I admire his obsession with details, the colors, the loose fit.
He is consistent and I learn a lot from his presentations. The associations with a past is part of any style; some more than others. After all, the basic premise of Permanent Style implies giving reality to some of our desires of other places, other times.
These ever-changing images are essential to styles. Let me give several examples: Filsons catalogue illustrates its models and clothes on commercial fishermen and loggers. Mud covered, wrinkled, yet few of those of us that purchase Filsons clothes are either fishermen or loggers. We willingly enter into the fantasy without judgement.
Orvis sells outdoors, hunting dogs, especially fly fishing. (As they should as they do sell wonderful fly fishing gear.) Yet one doesn’t need to be a fisherman to like much of their other gear. But it is nice to dream about remote rivers in Montana.
L L Bean used to sell the image of the “Maine Guide.” Always in a canoe – Maine guide shirts, Maine guide boots – but that image has now passed into the mists of forgotten canoe trips, and Beans is something entirely different.
Kai D. Utility in Brooklyn presents an image not unlike Tony’s. Beautiful clothing and a distinct style. That is their strength and one shops there for that. If it recalls another time or milieu than let us revel in that – for the past is always a foreign country.
We construct our images and fantasies with our clothing choices. These fantasies help us define who we want to be – if not always who we actually are. But why not, these pursuits help us navigate a world that is not always as we would like it to be, and gives us and others pleasure and inspiration.

Jack Williams


Thanks, Jack, for your opinion. I never wanted to appear uncivilized, sorry if my style or tone appears as such. I just want to make us think a bit deeper about the actual value of clothing.
Arnys had a grest style – and by that, I mean, a very distinctive character. Just like Kapital allows one to imahine inself a psychedelic turbohippie, RLPL – a british aristo, RRL – a western frontiersman, Engineered Garments – a cyberpunk factory worker, cladsic Armani – a hero of the neorealist 1950s Italian cinema, etc. All these brands have great, distinctive styles. But since here on Simon’s platform we explore the meaning and origins of permanent style, I think we should dig a bit deeper – beyond the analysis of cuts, makes, fabrics and all such details – to the underlying causes of stylishness. For me, it is about all these, rather unfulfilled fantasies. I think if one was actually fulfulling himself as an artist, worker, intellectual, explorer, he would not have the need to buy items of clothing to be stylish. He would be stylish inside, indelibly and permanently, and that internal light would imbue whatever he is wearing with what others perceive as permanent style.



When you said dig a little deeper are you sure you didn’t mean, yawn out some trite pop-psychoanalysis?

Not that I disagree with everything you said, but come on! The idea that someone would subscribe to or enjoy a certain aesthetic so as to plug some kind of meaning leak in their life and compensate for not being the artist, intellectual, (explorer?!) that they believed themselves to be is just a bit lazy and boring an observation.

I like wearing a slightly western Americana belt with my trousers in what is an otherwise quite Ivy look. Is it because im insecure and trying to compensate for the fact that im not the cowboy that I believe myself to be?

That said I do think that most of these looks seem inauthentic or at least to me, feel contrived in someway but so does the prescriptive idea that you can only authentically own certain looks of you are yourself French intellectual, or a French worker (just French basically?) etc

I think there are people featured in PS that do variations of this experimenting wonderfully. Ethan Wong. Willy Wang. Andre larnyoh. To me something about Tonys attempts at it always do seem a little cosplay-y by comparison, but I don’t think it means he’s deeply unfulfilled as an explorer.

eddie spinks

With you on this Jackson. My desire to be a tailor will not be fulfilled just because I drape a tape measure around my neck. Nor will wearing an SAS uniform turn me into a tough guy.


I hope you enjoy the jacket, however hopefully not perhaps (to paraphrase an old Tom Waits song – don’t know which one). ‘the thrill is in the chase and not the apprehending’.


I’ve really enjoyed the recent Paris series. I hope there will be a follow-up article when Tony gets his jacket.


I like the little 90s Tag Heur F1 peeking out from under the cuff of the jacket. I’d like to know the story of its acquisition.


Good spot! I recently wrote a little something on the appeal of the F1 and its resonance for me, which I hope will be published soon.
Can’t wait to read everyone telling me I’m cosplaying as a racing driver!


Lol. Touché!


Well let us know where we can read it when it’s ready.?


As Simon pointed out, it seems unfair and a bit narrow-minded to criticise the style of a person one does not know just because one does not like the clothes. Everyone of us aspires to provide a certain image of himself, formed by values, interests and life experiences. Just because I wear a blanket shirt of Outerknown on the beach, does not mean I surf like Kelly Slater but it might invoke this cool, free and relaxed feeling of youth when one travelled via Interail with friends through Europe in a very long summer and had a great time in surfing spots and possibly even took a few lessons. I do not know how other readers feel, but dressing in a certain way for me is not only to express my personality but also somewhat situationally changes it. I certainly behave and feel differently dressed in a navy blazer with brogues than in a hooded-sweater with jeans and white canvas sneakers. For me, this is not about “have not found my style” but rather enjoying being a slightly different person from situation to situation.

Andrew Scharf

Informative article Tony and the styling is spot on. Having been to Arny’s many times, it is true that staff could be quite cold with customers. The French word “special” sums up their persona. Despite this, Arny’s was a unique venue for menswear. Love your brown beret. Who is the maker? Wishing you all the best.


Thank you Andrew – the beret is from my brand AWMS, and I believe the Bryceland’s webstore still have stock if you were interested in buying one.


Is Tony wearing 18 East cords here?


Absolutely correct!


As one moves through life, one creates one’s own aesthetic. Doubtless it will be shaped by a number of influences even if one in particular is dominant. The acid test then becomes, does that look work for you in the eyes of others ?
The fact that you sport it means that you are comfortable with it but if others don’t like it on you it will certainly reduce your pleasure and reduce your chances of success in any number of given areas.
In the case of Mr Sylvester, his aesthetic suits him perfectly and although I could probably guess at his influences, I wouldn’t assume to know them but, I doubt that he is trying to be anybody, other than himself.
What I do know is that as much as I may admire his sartorial choices, I could never pull them off in a million years. Furthermore, were I to adopt them, I know my friends and family would laugh me out of house and home.
For my part, I’ve always been sartorially influenced by musicians. Indeed, it was the ‘64 modernist look of The Rolling Stones that first provoked my interest in the sartorial. That didn’t mean that I lived my life thinking I was in a band !
For many years I’ve been a huge admirer of Bryan Ferry’s look and indeed, his music.
Back in the day we used to frequent the same NE boutiques ( notably Marcus Price) and and today we share the same tailor. This doesn’t mean I stand in front of a mirror with a hairbrush for a microphone warbling’These Foolish Things’.


It has been interesting to read people’s reactions to this story.
It is undeniable that the Arny’s look, especially under the tenure of Monsieur LeLys, is “Marmite” to put it lightly. This is precisely what makes it so fascinating to me; and why I described it in the last piece I wrote as “unique, wonderfully eccentric and often a little daft.” Just as for the commenter who was lucky enough to visit the store and select a tie to his own taste, it is a matter of investigation and picking the things that resonate with you.
Putting aside the more personal barbs, it does seem rather reductive to proscribe a singular mindset to someone else’s choice of attire. Similarly, to use the word “objective” to describe your opinion on a garment’s beauty or lack thereof.
I can’t speak for Simon, but I imagine that the reason that he continues to publish the articles I write is because we do have differing opinions and viewpoints. I hope that as Permanent Style develops, he adds more voices to the mix – some of whom will present opinions I will find agreeable, and some that I imagine I won’t.
Long may it continue.

Come on and let me know

I thought it was a good article and mainly concluded you liked the style. Was a bit surprised by the tone and content of some of the comments. I like to wear a black polo neck now and again. But I’m really not trying to look like Michel Foucault. I just like black polo necks. If I’m going to cosplay – well that’s a couple of vodkas on a Friday night at a bar in soho in a Batman costume (joking obvs – I play Robin).


I visited the shop last month and highly recommend it. As stated, it’s small and highly edited which makes you really want to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Christophe is also a knowledgeable, welcoming host.
I ordered a mto Borestiere in a dark green corduroy with navy flannel lining. There wasn’t a toile in my size for reference, so Christophe measured me up and will send it home. A video call will correct anything that needs tweaking.
This coat seems to draw judgment here and elsewhere. I would enjoy wearing this at a café in the Left Bank reading untranslated Proust wondering what it would be like to have a job. Sadly, this is fantasy. The truth is this will make a versatile fall/winter/spring coat that will see lots of use


Hi Kurt, I am with you here. I have been looking for some time for a spring and fall coat to wear around town that will fall in between my M65 and Barbour dog walking / playground coats and a tweed sports jacket.

I am thinking a Forestiere / Borestiere in brown moleskin would do the trick nicely and plan to stop by Chato to place an order when I travel to Paris in a month. While I find the conversation on what attracts people to certain styles and the coat’s association with Left Bank intellectuals very interesting, for me its attractiveness is a much simpler story. The Forestiere is a nice looking, highly practical coat that fits with my desired use. The Arny and Le Corbusier heritage is just icing on the cake.

Charlie W

I happened to be in Paris this week. I’m visiting from Australia. After reading this I had to go to check out the shop. I walked halfway across the city in 33c heat.
The shop was closed. No note online or even on the shop door. The shopkeeper across the road said “try next week”.
if there is anything I’ve come to expect from Parisians, it’s not customer experience.
If you’re visiting, get in touch weeks in advance. I was going to visit Anatomica and Harpo tomorrow, but now I don’t want to risk wasting anymore of my 48 hours here.


A very good point. Hardly worth our extolling the virtues of small shops and encouraging visits and purchases when it appears they are not necessarily helping themselves. That said we don’t know the full circumstances however any commercial enterprise must be customer centric.


August tends to be the time when smaller independent businesses traditionally take their holidays in Paris so it may have just been unfortunate timing.


The Japanese brand Workers is currently doing a Forestiere in brown corduroy. I tried one on and was tempted but decided I’d been buying too many things in brown and corduroy recently.