What do you wear to a wedding in Paris?
With nothing chicer than a pair of patent leather shoes in my bag, this question came to mind when I arrived in Paris in March for the big day of one of my best friends. Why not go to Macron’s tailor, suggested a decidedly well-dressed acquaintance. Jonas & Cie offers affordable costumes for festive occasions, he added.
I took his advice and left for the traditional textile district of Paris. The Sentier district, nicknamed Silicon Sentier for the many Internet companies and start-ups that have settled in the district, is not far from the Louvre. The streets are full of smartly dressed people. For Jonas & Cie, the location could not be better to attract customers.
A discreet entrance
The shop is located in a quiet street behind a discreet door: No showroom, no windows visible from the street. Did I get the wrong address? It wasn’t until I walked past the front door several times that I heard a flurry of activity coming from the open second story windows. Then I noticed the sign that said Jonas & Cie. I had found it: The French President’s suit.
Macron and his wife during an election evening on April 24, wearing a Jonas&Cie suit
Laurent Touboul, the owner of Jonas & Cie, was already waiting for me; we had an appointment. After a friendly greeting we were straight away on a first name basis. A very busy man, however, he immediately disappeared into the dressing room with a client. I sipped an espresso while waiting in the entrance area, which is lined with trophy photos of famous personalities in chic tailored suits.
French President Emmanuel Macron has been a regular customer since 2016. “Many of our customers are ministers,” Laurent said, adding that he also caters to actors, singers, presenters and other public figures. The company has been offering costumes at relatively low prices since 1984.
Clothes make the man, suits make the presidents
Emmanuel Macron first approached Laurent when he was economy minister under former president Francois Hollande. “One of his employees, a long-time client of mine, contacted me at the time and asked if I could dress his boss,” says Laurent. “With pleasure. I told him.”
Laurent Touboul took over the store from his father, who founded it in 1984
The fact that Macron turned to a tailor that the French would consider moderately priced was also a political decision. The media paid close attention to politicians’ lifestyles ahead of the 2017 presidential election. Macron’s strongest opponent, Francois Fillon, who for months was seen as a frontrunner for office, fell into scandal of corruption which also involved his expensive costumes. “Journalists widely reported on Fillon’s suits during the 2017 election campaign, comparing them to Macron’s suits,” says Laurent Touboul, who recalls that already at the time Macron was buying suits in his store for less than €400 ($427). “Fillon’s suits were much more expensive,” he says, which paid off for Macron.
Former presidents including François Mitterrand, Jacques Chirac and Giscard d’Estaing have spent a lot of money on costumes. Today, however, it would be fatal for a politician to buy overpriced suits, Laurent said. Many French people struggle to pay their bills at the end of the month, he said, arguing that when people “see a president or a minister spending €5,000 or €10,000 on a suit, they say: ‘It’s impossible! It’s not reasonable'”. It’s not decent.'” Today, people condemn such behavior, he said.
According to men’s magazine GQ, business suits can be had for as little as €100 ($106), but customers will have to compromise on the quality of stitching, material, and more. For a made-to-measure suit, men in Europe shell out between €200 and €500 ($211 and $527) for independent tailors and designer brands that are increasingly looking to sell quality products at lower prices. When it comes to prices for bespoke suits from established designers, the sky is the limit.
Political fashion codes
Macron is very sociable during fittings, Laurent said. He has few additional wishes and is open to suggestions. But Laurent usually has to give in on a matter of style, and that’s the choice of color. “The president very often wears navy blue suits, with a navy blue tie and black shoes. ‘audit.”
Navy blue is a trendy color, says Laurent. “Seven out of 10 suits we sell are navy blue.” Macron also wore a navy suit on presidential election night. The tailor hopes that the re-elected president “will be able to continue his work boldly and successfully”.
DW’s Kevin Tschierse trying on the suit he finally bought for his friend’s wedding
For my part, I am satisfied with my memory of Paris which cost me about the same amount that Macron spends on his costumes. At the wedding reception, the anecdote that I wore an outfit from the president’s suit went down well. It turned out that the groom also wore a Jonas & Cie suit for the wedding ceremony in a Parisian synagogue.
This article has been translated from German.