As a strictly English speaker, trying to decipher international menswear magazines can be next to impossible, requiring me to rely heavily on the images for interpretation. Monsieur Magazine takes this to another level with their hand drawn cover artwork. The covers reflect whatever the magazine is covering in that issue, from French Dandyism, to American prep, to English tailoring. Through their details and colors, Monsieur’s covers articulate scenes and stories in and of themselves, captivating any audience regardless if they speak French or not. The magazine itself is actually the oldest menswear magazine still in circulation today, predating both GQ and Esquire by over a decade. Jacques Hébertot and Paul Poiret first published Monsieur in 1920 as a guide for men on everything from menswear, to travel, to food. Today, Monsieur adheres to the same idea it was founded upon, keeping up with trends and covering them through their words and artistic covers.
French director Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 film Breathless tells the simple tale of Michel (played by Jean-Paul Belmondo) a fugitive from the law, trying to convince Patricia (played by Jean Seberg) to run away with him. With such a straight forward plot, the other elements of the film take on great importance. Breathless is widely known as a groundbreaking technical film because of the way it was shot and Godard’s editing style, but the film is also equally as remarkable from a stylistic standpoint. Michel’s wardrobe is far from polished, with loose fitting suits and white athletic socks, his outfits indicate that Michel is not the high class man that he attempts to masquerade as. The clothes also provide a nice glimpse into French style from that period, including high button stances, broad shouldered sportcoats and short ties. Most interestingly, while Michel’s clothes are imperfect in so many ways, it is the way in which he wears them that makes his character. Belmondo has admitted that he modeled the character of Michel after Humphrey Bogart and it is this collected and poised attitude that makes Michel look so cool. His suit might be too large, his hat may look beat up and crooked, but Michel carries himself in a way that makes everything work. No matter how his clothes look throughout the film, behind his black sunglasses, ever present cigarette and composed demeanor Michel always appears as if everything is exactly how he meant it to be.
In a country not usually known for it’s footwear, Paraboot stands out as one of the finest French shoe manufacturers. Remy-Alexis Richard, the founder of Paraboot, began creating footwear in 1908 with the intention of developing an ”indestructible shoe.” In 1926 Richard came to America and realized that American’s had begun to wear shoes made from a material that Richard had never seen before, rubber. Richard traced the material back to the Amazon, where he then brought it through the Para sea port (the source of the brand’s name, Para-Boot) before arriving in France. The merits of rubber were instantly recognized by Richard and Paraboot began producing handcrafted shoes in nearly every style on top of a durable rubber sole. For over a century, Paraboot has remained a family owned business (Remy-Alexis’ grandson Michael still runs the company today) and has adhered to the same goal of producing sturdy, quality footwear.
I purchased my pair of Paraboot beef rolled penny loafers from C.H.C.M. right around the start of this year, and after wearing them nearly every other day for the past few months I can definitely say that Richard’s aim of producing an indestructible shoe has been accomplished. The rubber sole is still as complete as the day I bought the shoes without any real signs of wear. The balance between the rubber sole and the leather upper give the loafers a unique aesthetic as a formal shoe with the durability of a sneaker. As we enter into warmer months an everyday slip on that can be worn both casually and dressed up becomes an essential, and Paraboot’s loafer certainly lives up to that.