Dear readers, as you all can tell, in the world of MMD, we love great style and elegance, no matter from an impeccable tailoring, to a delicate hand-crafted neckwear, even a splash of fine fragrance that made by skilled and experienced perfume artisans, the list can go on, but there’s one thing that I believe in, is that a great gentleman should also be mastering their good traits from within, just like as discerning as selecting great artisan clothing and interest, having a healthy lifestyle, cultivating good manners and etiquette, being well-bred and behave, respecting some of the traditional values and protocol, these good traits did adds up the attractiveness of oneself, and an invisible language to communicate with others about one’s civilization and breeding, which echoes to the outer beauty – the grooming, the way one dresses – as a total package.
Back in the beginning of this blog, I already had a conversation with a very renowned etiquette expert from the UK, yet, for this time after all these years, I am very surprised (a good one!) to come across a young Frenchman that shares the similar expertise, and, he based much closer to Asia, be more precisely, in Shanghai! It was a sunny weekend afternoon that I came across the work by Mr. Guillaume Rué de Bernadac, who currently runs a luxury etiquette institution named Académie de Bernadac, which provides a tip-top professional and high-end etiquette education courses, and consultation to multinational companies (even private courses to young children as well) in Shanghai.
Renowned with his work on teaching etiquette from fine-dining, interacting with business professionals, the dapper Guillaume always demonstrates his quintessential French classic heritage wherever he goes, at the same time, possessed great knowledge with his traditional French values – etiquettes and protocol in particular, such valuable traits has made him a sought-after professional by countless luxury brands in China, on having this French gentleman to teach their employees about the significance of being well-mannered and demeanor, with this wonderful opportunity, I am truly thrilled to invite this gentleman for a conversation with us today, as below:
My Modern Darcy: Hi Guillaume, truly appreciated for your time to join us for this conversation, so, first thing first, can you share with us about what’s your recent project(s) that keeps you busy?
Guillaume Rué de Bernadac: We are working hard to follow with the demand of the Chinese market, which evolves quickly. B2B is our strongest market, with luxury brands asking us always more animations for their VIPs and the hospitality industry demanding us to train their staff. But the growth is particularly strong in B2C: After Shanghai in 2016, Beijing Chengdu and Tianjin in 2017, we just opened the South with our first class in Shenzhen in November 2018. For the next year we will propose more B2C formats, especially several days program, where we encounter a high demand.
MMD: As I briefly know that your family is one of the significant impact to the work that you are working on now, can you share with us more about that?
GRB: My great-grand father arrived in Morocco in 1926, where he was teaching academics, but also manners. His daughter, my grand-mother is born there. From her I inherited the wish to help people to understand the codes of other cultures, especially those of the high society, which are difficult for the newcomer.
MMD: When you were young, did you envision yourself to be an etiquette expert? And what makes you so passionate about this profession?
GRB: My vocation as an etiquette trainer came during my exchange student program in China. I realized I didn’t have the codes to integrate this society. Simultaneously I also realized this country, which just opened up, was facing incoming cultures from all over the world without being ready for this. And finally, I made a statement: with the globalization people living in large cities and often traveling abroad tend to have a lot in common with the inhabitants of other global cities; there is the rise of “international manners”. Shanghai was the perfect place for that: the face of the modern China, strongly vibrating with the world. That's what I was interested to develop, teaching people how to adapt, no matter where they are.
MMD: In your opinion, why being well-manner and respecting some traditional protocol still matter nowadays (especially for a gentleman)? Do you concern about some people might feel that a little bit ‘old’ or ‘passé’?
GRB: “Politeness” comes from “Polishing”, making relations smoother. As soon as humans have been living together they shaped rules to make their life in society easier. This will always be a current hot topic. But manners are always related to an environment, a moment. Thus, there is no good or bad manners, it only depends knowing how should you behave, when and where. You don’t behave the same at business dinners with clients and at the beach with your friends. You adapt. I consider my duty to adapt the traditions in today’s world.
MMD: In your opinion, among all different kinds of protocols, which one is the most difficult? And, which one that you find it’s interesting?
GRB: Each social group in each country has its own codes. But indeed, the higher you go in a society and the more sophisticated are the rules, the more you will be judged on details you are expected to master: how to behave in dining, how you dress, how you stand, sit, walk, talk etc. This is what we propose, to help people who have been successful and thus have to live or work in a different social environment how to master the new rules they have to deal with. It brings confidence, and that’s what I am interested to develop.
MMD: There’s a saying about ‘Practice makes perfect’, how does it relate to you, or in etiquette education in general?
GRB: Learning the new social codes is like learning a new language: you need to be really willing to learn, to practice. Of course, you may seem a bit awkward at the beginning, but that’s the only way to make it fluent.
MMD: Let’s talk about style, in your opinion, how is a modern gentleman looks like? And what qualities should a modern gentleman have apart from the way he dressed and groomed?
GRB: One is not born a gentleman, one becomes a gentleman. I truly believe what’s inside the heart matters more than any prestigious background or bank account. To me, the gentleman is the one willing to give the best of himself for the others: he knows how to make people comfortable by adapting his behavior to each situation. And of course, he pays great attention to how he looks like, this is respect for himself and for others.
MMD: Can you tell us what is your favorite attire / dressing style? And can you name 3 items in your closet that means a lot to you?
GRB: I am very happy to see the double-breasted suit is coming back on track, after several decades of being old-fashioned. I strongly enjoy wearing one when I am teaching, it is even mandatory for all our male trainers. It gives a true aura of gentleman. As we are talking about our male dress code when teaching, we have adopted the cravat, which I personally like a lot. It gives an outstanding, radically different image. I always match it with the same colour of my pocket square (I’m always having one with any suit or blazer) and even with my socks. I recently bought some socks suspender to go with my new collection of Scottish wool socks! This is clearly old-fashion but that’s maybe why I like it.
MMD: What advice will you give if someone approaches you and say that they want to become an etiquette expert like yourself?
GRB: Don’t stick to any dogma, people expect from us guidelines to live in today’s world, not yesterday’s. Know the history and the old rules, yes, but adapt them. And then, for me it’s “Work smart play smart”!
Special thanks to Mr. Guillaume Rué de Bernadac
Image courtesy of Académie de Bernadac, Shanghai