My dear readers, as you all can tell, I am always fond of Parisian elegance, it’s simply part of me and something very intuitive within that keeps drawing me back and explore more, like a busy bee craves for honey, of course both the honey and the French savoir-faire is pretty ‘nutritious’ and ‘delicious’, metaphorically speaking, to nurture one’s sense of style, as well as sharpen their eyes on appreciating great creations and work-of-art through the legendary French cultural asset and their know-how, as the result, whenever I have a chance to revisit this beautiful country, one of my mission is to reach out to some of the greatest French artisan, to engage with them, greet them, and at the same time, to appreciate the exquisite work they have done, and one of my beloved destination, is one of the most stylish artisan’s atelier boutique – Marc Guyot.
Located in the 8th arrondissement and barely a short walk from La Madeleine church, this understated yet quintessentially Parisian dandy atelier boutique is just like a treasure box to me, with the classic and elegant window display, the very nostalgic style of mens’ classical clothing but filled with the unique twist of the artisan himself, the distinctive use of unusual (and sometimes) color in particular, the iconic classic patterns from windowpane checks, to the countryside elegance herringbone tweed jackets and suits, displayed alongside with the artisan’s beautifully crafted leather shoes, it’s always intriguing and speechlessly stunning to see, touch, and feel each single piece of work-of-art inside his cozy and humble boutique, interestingly, since I was in Paris a couple of times before and visited the boutique, none of those visits that I have any luck to meet the artisan, only until when I was revisited back in July this year, and luckily, I finally have a chance to meet the artisan in person.
A gentleman that possessed a remarkable knowledge and taste of classic menswear, with a welcoming and good sense of humor, Mr. Marc Guyot is one of the Parisian artisan that I truly admire and adore among other great French artisans that I know, from his classic and elegant French gentlemen temperament and grooming, his profound knowledge of mens’ tailoring, classical style, and his multi-talented artisan know-how, creates all those work-of-art from tailoring clothing to refined footwear by his own hands, Marc is literally a very unique gentleman that possesses a quintessential Parisian classic and sophistication on the outside, and a youthful, passionate and burning creative spirit in the inside. And for this time, I am very thrilled to have a conversation with this amazing French artisan, to talk about style, his life in the artisan world and more:
My Modern Darcy: Hi Marc, truly thrilled and appreciated to have this conversation with you today, how are things going after the summer holiday since we met?
Marc Guyot: Hi ‘My Modern Darcy’, Summer break was good and necessary since I didn’t stop one minute for eleven months! I had to make a pause to refill the batteries. Now I’m in very good shape and full of creative energy. New styles are coming every week!
MMD: I had been to your lovely atelier boutique a couple of times, and only this time that I am lucky enough to meet you thankfully, can you share with us about what makes you to become a artisan, doing both mens tailoring and refined footwear? and how’s your atelier boutique on Rue Pasquier come about?
MG: I’m fond of menswear and footwear since my teenager’s years, as a law student, I couldn’t help but thinking about it all the time, so I changed of professional path to follow my instinct and my real desire to create clothes and shoes. I first designed my suits and shoes when I was 20 years old, with the unique goal to design for others in the future, to make a living of my passion. I worked in the industry for several companies and opened my first Parisian shop in 1995, after 3-4 years of partnership that didn’t make me happy, I quit my job, ended my partnership, and decided in 1999 to open the shop that is still on Rue Pasquier. This shop has a part of my soul since it’s not just a shop, but my office for 18 years now, and a laboratory of all the ideas that I put in motion in menswear and footwear.
MMD: You have witnessed the changes of mens' fashion in decades and still staying true to your very own and essential style, and having a very distinctive voice of your own, how can you do that? And what motivates you?
MG: Fashion is one thing, style is another…That’s my motto! I don’t have any time to spare on fashion, because fashion is always to out of fashion, sooner or later. My only motivation has always been the style! It’s a very personal search at first, when you have finally found it, you’re so comfortable in it that you don’t have any scares anymore about how you look, how people look at you, judge you even. I freed myself very young from other’s stares and judgments. I decided to wear only things that pleased me, without any concerns about the colors, the shapes, the cuts of my garments that could shock certain people. Since childhood, I have been mesmerized by the old movies, gangster’s movies sometimes but also musicals with Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire. I remembered staying speechless in front of the screen, totally hypnotized by the comedians style! Later, I tried to relive this period from 30’s to 50’s throughout my wardrobe and the way I mixed things together. That’s the main reason for me doing this job, and that’s the only way I can create items.
MMD: What are challenges that you had before throughout your artisan career and life? How did you overcome them? Do you have any ‘bitter-sweet’ moment that is memorable to you?
MG: Becoming a entrepreneur in France is not an easy thing when you start from scratch. I met many obstacles during my journey, essentially administrative troubles, but also professional troubles as one main manufacturer bankruptcy several years ago, you need a strong faith in what you do to endure these kinds of obstacles and overcome them. No particular moment in mind but I’m quite proud to be able to make my products in almost any good manufacturer, in 2013 for instance, I decided to change the production of my shoes entirely to be more “free”. After 2 years of hard work, everything’s is really fine and I could develop a lot more ideas and concepts than before.
MMD: Mens tailoring has been making its comeback in recent years, how do you see this sartorial movement will be heading in the upcoming 3 to 5 years?
MG: This “sartorial” movement is mainly due to the arrival of internet in everyone’s life. With all the ”forums” and personal “blogs”, each and everyone may have a say on any subjects. The consumer has been educated, sometimes right, sometimes very wrong. So now, you could meet often people that described themselves as specialists or experts of the sartorial rules, without really knowing them at all. You can’t break the rules without really knowing them.
MMD: So go back to your work, can you tell us what is the signature Marc Guyot style (or look) should look like? And what are they?
MG: I don’t really like the word “look”, I prefer “silhouette”. The general “silhouette” is about grace and elegance, is the living proof of your style, so I never imposed mine to my visitors and customers. My job is to help them finding their own, applying the good rules of course. My ideal “silhouette” is a mix of dress and casual. A deconstructed jacket without any padding, but slightly waisted, with long vents, patch pockets, trousers like Chinos or even a 4 pocket jean, at the bottom an immaculate pair of derby or oxford, in exotic, always brown (I don’t use black leather except for Formal Wear). I like the contrast of casual garments even workwear garments, with a very nice pair of shoes, a very neat MTM shirt, and a nice foulard, very “bohème”.
MMD: As I know that you are working both the tailoring and footwear for your own name, any specific skillset(s) should required for doing both tailoring and footwear? how did you split your time and dedicate your work to both?
MG: As I started my own business, I was skilled in both tailoring and footwear but I never accepted the choice to make between these two domains, in my opinion, they are not two different domains but form a whole. Designing shoes is like a second nature to me. I could do that in my sleep, so I got a lot of ideas left to see the light someday. And for garments, I created only several new styles a year, essentially in the casual / workwear department, because the main cut of my dress jackets is almost the same since the beginning. When you’re convinced to have found the real balance, you don’t want to spoil it by changing details that don’t need to be changed.
MMD: How do you define a good quality of a piece of tailoring clothing and refined footwear?
MG: Material, material and material! Don’t cheat on the materials and fabrics you use, never! That’s the first rule. Then the cut, the shape, then the manufacturing. It’s like a recipe really. You need taste first and skills in choosing your materials, then you have to design nice shapes or choose good existing designs for the non creative professionals. And you have to assemble all this together with talent. Choosing your manufacturers, menswear and footwear, is like a wedding, you can’t do great things in one or two years and then go to another one, to achieve great things, you have to mount a team, and even if you’re the team leader, you have always a lot to learn for your partners. After several years of collaboration, every side is well accustomed to the other and every new collection is a real pleasure to work on. Without pleasure and pride, no great things in this particular business.
MMD: Have you ever collect any refined menswear pieces that you are very impressed with, and, still with you until today? And why?
MG: I collected a ton of vintage pieces in my whole life. But not to wear them especially. For me every piece of clothing has an intimate part with its original owner, and I don’t like wearing things that weren’t mine from the start, I collected real fine pieces of clothing just to admire the skill of the manufacturer or the cut, or one detail here, one particular seam there… But all these old pieces went from the 50’s or 60’s at the least, nothing really contemporary.
MMD: What are your recommendations for Fall Winter this year? In terms of style, clothing, shoes and accessories choices for gentlemen.
MG: I love winter since ever. That’s the occasion to get out your old tweeds jackets and moleskine trousers, your brogue boots with heavy rubber soles! This winter I recommend Shetland tweed jackets, unlined, with soft shoulders, Scottish tartan patterned for instance, with heavy cotton drill slacks or Moleskin cottons slacks, ivory cashmere turtleneck or light blue, and mid brown ankle boots with or without broguing but with a strong sole. And scarves, bright and bold patterned scarves. It protects your neck during freezing hours and it’s a very efficient way to relive your herringbone jacket!
MMD: How do you define good style for men? And what is ‘style’ means to you?
MG: I always thought that style and elegance that comes with it are one real mean of expression, as we say in France, “le prolongement de l’âme”, extension of the soul. To have a good style, you have to have a good soul. Humble but fine, discreet but very refined, not arrogant at all, and joyful, to keep playing with the colors, your image etc. A good style is timeless. Without any boundaries as fashion rules. When you think you have found your own, don’t try to change it, just play with it. Take it like a game, don’t take it too seriously. Secret is probably the self-derision.
MMD: Apart from the outer, what are the other qualities that a modern day gentlemen should have?
MG: Menswear is just a detail in the elegant life, you can’t be really elegant without values like courtesy or gallantry, and a genuine form of kindness. All these values form the reflection of the soul, no elegance will be achieved without them.
MMD: If someone came up to you one day and ask for your advice on how to become a good tailor or shoemaker, what will your advice be?
MG: Passion and patience are your two weapons of choice! Patience to learn all and a lot more! To study the craftsmanship requires a lot of patience and energy. And to do so without flinching you need a lot of passion, to feel intimately your goal. If it’s to become wealthy or wealthier, change your specialty because it’s certainly not the quickest way to accumulate wealth, but if you choose this way with passion and patience, that’s the surest way to be happy!
Special thanks to Mr. Marc Guyot, image courtesy of Marc Guyot Paris.