Do you have memories of the early days of your sartorial initiation? I see mine very clearly. I'm in class, quite unconcerned, I confess, with the Cold War political and economic history lecture my professor is giving. Each of my classmates' screens reflects a different light - sometimes from an Instagram feed, sometimes from a Facebook or Wikipedia page. The glow from my computer is white, particularly white. My mouse frenetically moves up and down as I explore the different sections of a website I've just discovered. I remember how it felt to scroll through the articles. Damn, I have so much to learn.
This is what I told myself the day I first read the pages of Parisian Gentleman. I, then an arrogant young student of barely twenty, exasperating those around me with my interpretation of "elegance", suddenly realized that I knew nothing. I go from article to article, and I realize that the pit of knowledge is deeper than I suspected. I have to unlearn and relearn everything. I feel, in an indescribable way, that it is going to be a long road, yet I am heading on this path with passion. Inevitably, I make a lot of mistakes. Then I read what Hugo wrote, I read Julien Scavini. And I meet my first tailor. We exchange. New mistakes reveal themselves, always from me. I watch, re-watch Sartorial Talks. It's hard not to think about the jacket I wear on my shoulders at first. That's the only thing I see: it's not me, I'm not fully comfortable yet.
Then, slowly, there was a shift. The way I dressed became more natural and intuitive to me. I began to move beyond the stage of clothing for the sake of clothing. I realized that I wasn't looking for the suit as much as a way of living, of encountering my everyday life. From there, everything changed. I devoured works on dandyism in literature, tried to improve my understanding of etiquette and manners. I spent more time on what became essential to me: museums, concerts, writing. In this process, it becomes glaringly clear that I have been looking for my inner self through expressing my outer self. My life achieved its first metamorphosis the day I at last understood why I was wearing a tie in the morning: not only because the object and the ritual of tying a tie is beautiful in itself, but because getting ready in the morning and enjoying the gesture is a way of welcoming a daily life where we pay attention to details, as well as to the moments given to our close friends. It means announcing to the world that no day should be devalued in comparison to the others. Today, my acquaintances no longer believe that I wear suits because I am a snob.
Today, I declare openly that this love of beauty is part of a larger scheme : a quest for delight. Most people don't care about the length of your trousers, the price of your watch, or the number of shoe polishings you do. But the euphoria given by a black tie party with friends, the delight of a great conversation, the absolute joy of watching a classic movie in good company, times such as these truly matter. Today, the smallest of things can make the greatest reflections of beauty. True delight can mean a softly cold summer evening spent wearing an untied tie and loafers on a rooftop, a cigar or a whisky in the hand. I am resolved to let other people enjoy the pleasure of pride, snobism, and the futile joy of showing how wealthy they are. Our society needs honest preachers of Beauty, passionate aesthetes, elegant men and women who claim their own lifestyle. When I wrote my first two articles for Hugo, I realized the weight of reconciling the inner self with the outer. Since then, this truth has had time to grow in my mind.
Yes, we all start from a different point, with irreducible affinities, passions and aspirations. But we embody a same movement, which we agree to call sartorialism, and which takes its force from diversity. Through my articles, I hope to mention all these paths leading to elegance, which are fundamentally complementary. As Hugo said, sartorialism mainly consists in being exacting, which will always be our main concern. There is so much to learn, for all of us ; so much to improve in our behavior. But you see, I think that it is this effort that matters. Because in the end, only one thing will remain : not the width of your tie, but the elegance with which you will have dressed your life.