Recently on the air of the new filmy Parisian Gentleman all focused on superheroes because ‘elegance will save the world’. We expected it. After the debut of 2015 (Several international awards well deserved) indeed expectations were not a few, and, in our opinion, with this all met.
A new film that adequately reflects the style of Parisian Gentleman, which is yours. Sartorial elegance, beyond fashion, knowing so well that it is possible to break the rules, in a kind of new expressive pop that shuns any form of servility to trends. Apparently, an irreconcilable dichotomy, however, capable of connecting 150,000 readers, crowning you as a style icon. How can you achieve that?
“Up to 2009, I was a film producer with a very busy life. I was very interested in Bespoke tailoring and elegance but could not find any magazine or media that were really focusing on the subject. So I decided to do it myself and try to share a few thoughts on the subject on a small blog (that was just a personal diary at the beginning). Just to keep busy on a wakeful night in January 2009 I decided to compose a text on men’s style, a topic dear to my heart that struck me as full of untold things to write and share. In just a few clicks I thus created a blog using a free provider (WordPress) that pressured me into choosing a name that couldn’t be changed again afterwards.
The name ‘Parisian Gentleman’ was an instinctive choice. I couldn’t imagine that my readers would soon equate the phrase with me as a person. I published my very first text immediately. Just a short text. Nothing extraordinary. Just a short message that even my most dedicated readers do not remember today.
After shutting down my laptop this night I eventually went to sleep thinking I would read it again in the morning and erase the site if I needed to. After all I am an expert in communications and I know that nightly thoughts, and even to a greater degree, texts rarely sound relevant when breakfast comes.
And yet, that morning, I found that my little text deserved to stay online. I was also happy to discover that Parisian Gentleman had received seventeen hits in the first few hours of its short existence! Seventeen hits! Of course it seems laughable today.
Still I think that these seventeen strangers who, in the wee small hours of the morning, chanced upon an obscure blog that hadn’t been up for more than a couple of hours, were the ones who literally changed my life and made me want to keep going.
Seven years on, and millions and millions of hits later, ‘Parisian Gentleman’ has become a fully-fledged online magazine dedicated to men’s style with an international readership. And also the title of a very successful book published by one of my favourite publishers in the world, Thames & Hudson.
Whatever happened? Well, a small revolution.
Following the lead of a few tweed addicts, of a bunch of bespoke tailoring devotees and a small community of quality shoe aficionados, men seem to have awaken from thirty years of stylistic lethargy and rediscovered the pleasure of beautiful clothes and elegance as a way of life. They also rediscovered that it was possible for them to decide for themselves how to dress and stop being brainwashed by the fashion industry and its designers.
These ‘sartorialists’, as they like to call themselves, come from such innovative forums as Style Forum or London Lounge. They are now an informal but powerful online community with a worldwide influence.
After the success of such series as Mad Men or Boardwalk Empire, the ‘sartorialists’ created a global movement devoted to classic men’s style and enabled the emergence of blogs like Parisian Gentleman – blogs with an international readership on an equal footing with any great title among the traditional paper magazines.
But while women’s fashion glossy magazines keep extolling star designers and models, the menswear blogosphere has brought to light heroes of a new kind – not designers or artistic directors, but tailors, master shirt- and shoe-makers.
We’re not talking about Karl Largerfeld, Heidi Slimane or Marc Jacobs but about Lorenzo Cifonelli, Pierre Corthay, Marc de Luca, Anthony Delos and Jean-Claude Colban.
Whereas the last three decades were single-mindedly concerned with the pioneering genius and the occasionally wild boldness of fashion artists, we are now rediscovering the subtle workmanship and the timeless creations of genuinely creative artisans. People who, far from the surreal gloss and tinsel of Haute Couture, have been making clothes, shoes, perfumes and other essentials for thousands of elegant gentlemen – and have been doing so sometimes for three or four generations.
Today Parisian Gentleman gathers an average of 150 000 loyal readers per month (i.e. more than 2,5 millions pages viewed per year) and I still don’t understand how all this happened ! Maybe I started at the right moment, filling a gap and answering to an actual need. I don’t consider myself a style icon. My intend is to inspire people and to invite them to rediscover the joy and the benefits of a more elegant life. I think I’m more a kind of preacher than an icon. But the fact that so many people are following us (PG is now a team of 12 people, with more than 2000 articles published in 4 languages) still amazes me. I’m a very lucky – and happy – man !”
The choice fell on all Italian team: agency, production company, and director, DLV BBDO, The Family, and Igor Borghi. We here are particularly proud, given that you can tap into talents worldwide. How did they win the assignment?
“It was natural for me to work with a 100% Italian team because Italy is the center of the world for men’s style and the Italian people, whether they are interested or not in the subject of style, do have a sense of style that no other people in the world have. Since the success of our first campaign ‘Ladies’ it was unimaginable for me to work with another team. These people understand what I do, what I stand for, what I preach for… No American, no French, no English team would have understood our core message which is far beyond the subject of clothes and menswear : we have a dream of a more elegant life. It’s almost a political message. And DLV BBDO immediately understood that we were different. Also I love working with strong characters like Stefano Quaglia (the head of The Family Film company) and of course the super, mega, über-gifted Igor Borghi. This Director is a story telling genius and I predict a great future for him”.
In their view, you are the customer that everyone wants. Is in this partnership that lies the secret of creative realizations that can be noticed for their quality and impact?
“Do they really think that ? That’s a great compliment. Well, I believe that a great creative relationship simply relies on mutual trust and respect. We are not a ‘normal’ customer because we believe in what we do for real. Our approach is simple and straight (explain to the people that elegance can change their lives), our decision process is quick (no long meetings, no product manager, nothing like that) and even if our name is becoming big worldwide, we are still a very small team. And when we choose partners, we prefer that they work as freely as possible because we believe that people give their best when they feel free. I know it’s a very unusual way of thinking in the super-controlled world of communication. But I also believe that the public feels this free and fresh approach on a very deep level: nobody buys over-controlled and over-marketed messages anymore. The times have changed. Youtube is becoming more important than TV now. The work that DLV BBDO did for us is to exactly translate our message and, more important, our dream. And this can only be achieved with a free-thinking team. Trust is the key word. We have a business relationship of course, but most of all, I think we really understand each other. And that makes the whole difference”.
Regarding elegance, what is the essential element?
“Elegance is not about clothes and even less about money. These are trivial concepts. It’s a way of life, a way of looking at things, a way of behaving with people. The first step of elegance is to make people feel at ease when they are around you. And the second is to show them respect, whoever they are. The opposite of Elegance is not being badly dressed, it’s being pretentious”.
And concerning communication, what matters most between the creative idea and realization?
“Both. A good idea badly realized can be a disaster. And a bad idea will always remain a bad idea. It’s a matter of balance and of finding the right people that understand you and what you stand for. During the shooting of ‘Real Heroes’ I think that even the technicians involved on the set understood that we were doing, and saying, something special, something different. It’s difficult to explain, but you can feel it…”.
As the result, we speak of elegance or communication, it is a budget issue?
“No budget issue on Elegance at all. In the current world, you simply have to educate yourself on the subject to immediately step out of the crowd. Today a young man who wants to become more elegant can do it with very little money. Once again it’s all about style, not clothes. For the communication, you need, of course, some budget. But as pioneers of the elegance revolution on the web, we have a lot of people that are interested on supporting us. PG is still a small company, but our potential is enormous and many people in our industry have understood that. So we receive a lot of support because our message is relevant, modern and, I believe, almost universal”.
Are you already thinking about the next campaign?
“Well, we have so many projects going on that we will think of the next campaign early next year. But my vision now is to create a series on Men’s style for both TV and the web. Because I believe there’s a huge appetite for this kind of program”.
What other projects for the future?
“They are so numerous that it is impossible for me to list them all here. You have to understand that a start-up like Parisian Gentleman triggers a lot of opportunities every day, because we represent the future of the media in Menswear. But to give you a few, I’m working on my second book on Italian Style ‘The Italian Gentleman’) to be released next year by Thames and Hudson in London. I give lectures on style in Universities, master-classes on elegance all around the world. We travel the world constantly and we are inventing everyday our business model. I feel that I’m a very lucky and fortunate man because for Parisian Gentleman, it’s only the very beginning of the adventure!”.