When buds burst into flower and cherry trees blossom white and red, heavy coats become a distant memory; we’ve officially entered the wonderful season of spring. Amongst all the season’s glorious attributes, there is for many also a city that comes to mind – Paris. It might be the echoing of the famous song I love Paris (Porter 1953), whose first sentence goes ‘I love Paris in the spring time‘, sung and interpreted by artists like Sinatra, Fitzgerald, Callum and many others. It might be the abundance of movies set in this city during the season of romance – spring. It most certainly also has to do with the postcard idea of Paris as a brand. Picture the scene, sitting outside a brasserie debating with loved ones until coffees turns into wine and dawn becomes dusk, unconsciously lifting our shoulders to the real world – C’est la vie á Paris!
Paris - A place of business
When Paris is calling for business, one of many perks of the trip is the dressing up. As wrong as it would be to wear a meticulously engineered suit from Japanese suit manufacturer Ring Jacket to a property development meeting in Norway, where billionaires rock up in ‘lusekoftor’ and beanies and look on the suits in the room as if infested by peasants, so right it feels to wear it in Paris. It is not only okay to look dapper in Paris, but extravagance is hallowed and excellence a prerequisite. Stepping out in the morning to stroll across Avenue Kléber to indulge in a quick coffee at L’Etoile Venitienne, the wind grabs my hand-rolled jacquard tie while at the same time the clouds deposit a few tears on my Calm Twist wool suit. A moment of concern might arise for many, but I simply smile, knowing my armour for the day is happily resistant to nature’s side effects; I walk on confidently, safe in the knowledge that these threads are not only made to be worn but especially so in a city that appreciates them.
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French Cuisine and no veggie
There are of course few things about which the French are so particular: more than in many neighbouring countries cuisine is revered in France. The chef is a figure of great authority and respect; a restaurant is not just a building but home turf and when you are in someone’s home you comply or you leave. For lunch, I make my way over to chef Helmi Derbal’s restaurant Chez Julien at 1 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, dressed in my interpretation of Paris chic, simple and monotone, sumptuous in craftsmanship and comfortable in fit. As wind and rain still makes guest appearances a warming neck scarf from Drake’s comes in handy when the hand knitted cotton cardigan is not buttoned up. Chez Julien offers rustic french cuisine created with finesse from fresh seasonal ingredients and served stylishly on heavy french ceramic tableware. When asked about a vegetarian option, the waiter looks confused, shaking his head slowly and saying “Pardon Monsieur, maybe there’s one among the starters, but I don’t know”.
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She appeared on a Honda and stayed on canvas
Another perk of visiting Paris is the sheer pleasure of allowing your mind to absorb some of the city’s rich sources of culture. Place de Vosges not only breathes history as the oldest square in town with a 17th-century heritage, but it overflows with art, and anecdotes of the artists and their accomplishments. I slip into my linen suit, undo the third button of my shirt and carefully position my Kirk Originals while making my way in towards the arch entrance. Nosing around the square, peeking into workshops, my mind quickly wonders, only to be interrupted by the most soothing engine noise: that rare throb of an engine almost living up to its pretended 350cc from the distinctive twin-pipe exhaust system, a beauty on wheels, the Honda CL350. I was awakened yet left in my dreams of childhood rides on Grandpa’s Honda, my eyes opened as the ignition went off. With a smooth gracious foot gesture she lowered the kick-stand and removed her helmet, releasing her long auburn curls with a quick convulse, yet controlled movement. As she quickly disappeared I found myself yet again left with a big fat smile in Paris!
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La Tour Eiffel s’il vous plaît
Shopping is perhaps the most common characteristic linked with Paris, along with its two great landmarks, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. My latest threads were picked up at Richard Gelding in London, one of two stores that feed into baltzar.com, with its truly brilliant curation of styles from the world’s best menswear suppliers. What I like most with Baltzar is the variety of brands and their interpretations of classic style; there’s a wonderful synergy to be found in combining various brands and different creations. Wearing my Sunspel jersey cotton polo with Lardini’s wool silk linen jacket is a contrast made in heaven and matched beautifully with brown tech-wool PT01 trousers and my rather extravagant choice of shoes, the crocodile loafer, available on order from both the Malmö and the London store.
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Singin' in the Rain
Going to the Opera, or any Gala worth attending for that matter, requires attire which for most people is synonymous with black and on occasion midnight blue. The white tux, however, has become the black sheep of evening wear: “mistaken for staff”, “not to be worn north of Cairo” and other nonsense is muttered which has shamed the beautiful creation that is the white knight of tailoring. Made from 100% raw silk, the texture is vivid yet sophisticated, the shawl collar so wide that it caresses your chest while you retain your cool. Its buttoning emphasises the low-cut double-breasted Neapolitan silhouette, finished on the sleeve without buttons but with a turned-back cuff. If anyone mistakes me for a waiter wearing this thing, I’ll be the one to blame, not the jacket which is of course always worn with black trousers and patent shoes, or even better, if you have them, a pair of opera pumps. As the tunes faded from Benvenuto Cellini’s opening performance at the National Opera and I walked out of the doors to catch my ride back to Avenue Kléber, folding down my Francesco Maglia umbrella to jump into the car, I hesitated as I heard a familiar noise: possibly 325cc trying to be more, a yellow sheen flicked through between the street lights a hundred yards away. I smiled as I thought, we’ll always have Paris!