The Classic Style of A Frenchman

“Suit Geek” is our feature column where each month we reach out to one of our loyal customers & friends and ask him to share his work, life and his unique point of view on tailored suits & gentlemen‘s style. 

On our eighth interview for “Suit Geek”, we invited our dear friend Nicolas Schmitt. For those who have been friends with us for a while know that Nicolas used to be our very own Stylist & Buyer for 4 years. Born in Paris, France, now a Beijinger, today Nicolas will be sharing his journey of classical menswear and tailoring, and how he manages his ‘double identity’ as a filmmaker and a tie maker in life. 

Nicholas Schmitt

“I’m a filmmaker and a tie maker.”

/On His Very First Suit

“You’re going to be disappointed because I don’t remember my very first suit haha! I only remember the picture – I was probably three years old in that picture. And I was wearing a double-breasted navy blazer with gold buttons. I believe that was my first jacket.” 

“It was probably a Christmas party. I would wear a jacket with a tie for Christmas parties or birthday parties, or even on family dinners, that’s how I would always dress myself back in Paris for occasions like dinners.”

Nicolas’ first jacket

/On His Journey to Tailoring

“My sartorial journey started relatively early. I remember one jacket I bought when I was like 9 or 10. I wore it on Christmas and birthday parties.”

“I think it was my family who really inspired me on my sartorial journey. My grandfather, and my father, they were always very nicely dressed, for every type of situation. I admire them for that. They didn’t dress because they had to; they dressed because they loved classical menswear. My father used to have a really big wardrobe, with around 200 shirts in it, and 50 of them were all white shirts, and mostly bought from the same brand. I got so fascinated by that when I was a kid. He also had an amazing collection of ties, and I remember that I loved to go through his ties.”

“My father was born in 1939. When he was younger, thirty years old or so, that was the 1960s in Paris, every guy would wear a suit or a jacket with a tie. That was the generation that grew up dressing in a suit.” 

“He also had a lot of clothing from French brands. Yves Saint Laurent, and some other Parisian brands that don’t exist anymore. He was very trendy, like a Dandy, which was quite different from my grandfather’s style, so I don’t think he got the inspiration from his father, because it’s really two different generations in terms of menswear style.” 

Paris, 1968

/On His Daily Style

“Right now I’m mostly working from home, and when I’m home, I usually dress very relaxedly. T-shirt and shorts, ‘home outfit’. But when I’m working on-site, it depends. If I know it’s going to be outdoor, very tiring and sweaty, I will wear something slightly more comfortable and casual, maybe a jacket with a pair of jeans. I dress according to where I go and the situation.” 

Nicolas during a shoot

Do you have a piece of clothing that has Sentimental value for you?

“That’s a difficult question because I have a lot, and a lot of them all have a story behind. I don’t buy that much of  clothing anymore; I would only buy something that I really like.”

“What I really like is buying clothing during travelling, like a souvenir. It has a sentimental value to it, either the place that I’m travelling to or the person I’m with when I buy a certain piece of clothing. A lot of my clothing is like that, when I put them on, I can instantly relate to those memories or stories.”

W.Bill Overcoat
Made by PRINCIPLE M

“There’s one story that I can share: my grandma used to like giving money to her grandchildren, very nice grandma. That was like 15 years ago. At that point, I remember I really wanted a pair of Berluti shoes, but others thought it was such a ridiculous thing to do – using that amount of money to just buy a pair of shoes. Others would put it into their saving account or use it on something else. Looking back I  don’t regret that decision because 15 years later I still have those shoes, and I still enjoy wearing them. It reminds me of my grandmother.” 

Calabrese Scarf
Available at PRINCIPLE M online & in-store

What would you wear for a first date?

“That depends if it’s on the weekend or the weekday. If it’s the weekend, like Saturday night or Sunday, I’ll probably slide into something casual – a jacket, a pair of chinos, and no tie. If it’s during the week, I’ll wear a jacket with a tie, and a pair of flannel trousers or wool trousers, or just wear a full suit.” 

Caccioppoli Suit
Made by B&Tailor

/On His Lifestyle

Do you like cooking?

 “I like cooking. I actually cook a lot. I cook for myself, and my son sometimes. I know what he likes, lasagna, spaghetti bolognese, and burgers, so I would cook that for him. When I’m alone, I cook very simple stuff, mostly vegetables.” 

What’s your favourite drink?

“In Beijing I like beer, and in France I prefer wine.” 

Any wine bar in Beijing you can recommend to us?

 “Vin Vino. It’s just around my place, I’d invite you there.” 

What’s your favourtie film?

“One of my favourite films is Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker.”

“There’s a documentary filmmaker I really like called Jonas Mekas. You should check out his work.”

(Jonas Mekas, Lithuanian-American filmmaker, poet, who has been called “the godfather of American avant-garde cinema”.)

Stalker, 1979

How did you start making ties?

“At first I wanted to do something that I can do with my hands, and I feel like that’s something that’s been missing when I’m living here in Beijing. When I’m back in France, I would do a lot of hand work, wood work in the countryside. Also I have a passion for artisanal products. So I decided to learn how to make ties.” 

“I started from the scratch, learning how to fold the ties, creating the pattern, hand roll the tie…etc. During quarantine, I had a lot of free time and some spare silk, so I spent a lot of time doing that. It was very relaxing, just really focusing on doing one thing for a whole afternoon. It was almost like meditation, a very good feeling.” 

Interviewer: Justin
Editor: Carrie
Photographer: Nicolas
Produced by PRINCIPLE M

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