Retail Remedy: Men’s style gets intellectual with this clever spin at a Parisian men’s shop. Richard Nahem reports from Paris…
I decided to take a stroll through Canal St. Martin, as I had not been there in a long time. Always hunting for the new and interesting, I came across an intriguing new men’s shop, La Comedie Humaine.
I started looking through the sparsely stocked racks, the first one starting with crisp, finely detailed button down shirts. The shirts came with a removable collar and above the rack was a display with a selection of alternate collars you could attach to the same shirt.
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I didn’t think twice about the name of the shop until I struck up a conversation with Julien, the very handsome and tall owner of the shop (there are four owners). He told me the name of the shop came from the classic book La Comedie Humaine by Balzac.
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In fact, the whole concept of the shop is based on Balzac. Who, unbeknownst to most people, was fascinated with fashion and appearances.
He was the first writer of that time to write about fashion and penned a series of articles for the periodical La Mode and the titles include Theory of Walking, Code de la Toilette (Code on grooming), The Art to Wear a Necktie, and Physiologie de la Toilette, (The Physiology of Grooming). Also, the symbol/logo of the shop is a well-dressed rooster, based on the drawing of J.J. Grandville, who contributed many illustrations for Balzac’s short stories.
La Comedie Humaine raison d’être is to uphold French craftsmanship and tailoring and reviving old traditions such as the shirts with the removable collars I mentioned above. All the merchandise is proudly made in France. As I started browsing again, I had a whole new appreciation for what was sold in the shop after I spoke with Julien.
Richard’s Photo Gallery of this clever Parisian Men’s Shop…[nggallery id=169]
A selection of beautiful, short cashmere coats had detachable scarves connected to them. Supple man bags are hand-made in Loches, France using superior leather made of veal skin and the old guard 19th century glove house, Causse, makes the gloves. J.J. Grandville’s illustrations serve as the inspiration for the unusual T-shirts manufactured in the Dordogne region.
Julien was kind enough to give me a small journal with rooster logo on the cover and a booklet with the philosophy and full details of the shop. In the present world of fast and mass-market fashion, I applaud La Comedie Humaine for maintaining handcrafted, well-tailored clothes proudly made in France. — Richard Nahem
Visit in Paris:
La Comedie Humaine
24 rue Yves Toudic, 75010
Metro: Republique or Jacques Bonsergent
Open Monday to Saturday 10AM to 8PM, Sunday 2PM to 8PM