Standing outside a 19th century mansion behind Paris’ Avenue de Champs-Élysées, I receive a message from French shirtmaker Daniel Lévy. It simply reads: “J’arrive.” A moment later, he strides in from the nearest corner, every bit the perfect gentleman in his double-breasted navy chalkstripe suit, polished leather penny loafers, burgundy satin tie and long point collared white shirt. “I like to nod to the colours of our country through what I wear,” he says with a smile. It turns out this patriotic sensibility runs through all the principles of his eponymous brand.
Our interview takes place in the luxury five star hotel called La Réserve, which is a stone’s throw from Lévy’s shirtmaking boutique. “I thought it would be nice to take you here first as it’s something I like to do with my clients,” he explains. We take a drink at its Le Gaspard bar, an intimate room that oozes Parisian chic. Lévy is easy to talk to, and instantly puts me at ease. He’s also more than happy to dive straight in: “I never try to impose a style on someone. Clients come to me and either know what they want, or if they don’t, we come to an agreement together as I evaluate their personality. I want to reveal the finest qualities of the individual, and a shirt is an essential tool to do this.”
Born in the South West of France, Lévy has established himself as a prominent figure in the country’s sartorial scene over the past thirty years – the most recent of which have seen him move to Paris and operate from his store on Rue du Cirque. “I love the atmosphere of this neighbourhood because it continues to thrive on the classicism Paris is so known and loved for,” he says. “From mythical restaurants like Laurent, to headquarters of fashion houses like Chanel, those who live and work around here are always be elegant, regardless of the hour or occasion.” This distinctly French attitude to style is commendable, and it’s a priority that Lévy has in mind when he crafts a custom-made shirt for a client. “I want to show that men of all ages and physiques can be elegant – whether they’re young and slim and curious, or old and large with a grand persona like Hitchcock.”
Hitchcock is one of the first things I notice when we leave Le Gaspard and wander around the corner to Lévy’s boutique. A photograph of the filmmaker is fixed on one side of the studio’s entrance, Louis Armstrong on the other. Positioned in the middle of the showroom is a huge mounted Rooster – Lévy’s house emblem that brings good luck to his creations – followed by two rails of his prototype styles. “I only work with the highest quality materials, which is why I source from Thomas Mason,” he says, gesturing to the Goldline selection of sample books lined up on his desk. “Savoir-faire lies at the centre of my bespoke propositions, whether it’s employed in making a classic cotton tuxedo shirt or a relaxed linen shacket.”
The mention of a shacket piques my interest – particularly when Lévy presents himself in a polished suit and tie. “I want to offer a shirt for every context,” he explains. “And regardless of what it is, I don’t believe it should ever restrict its wearer. This is why I often advise my clients to embrace a slightly supple and loose shape for their chosen style, because it allows the fabric to fully express itself. Pieces like this navy, horn-buttoned shacket,” he points to the first prototype on his rail, “are styles I’ve branched into to accommodate those who are more casually inclined. Layered over quality essentials like high cut denim and a T-shirt, this overshirt elongates the body and delivers a more offbeat appeal. It’s essential for me to propose that kind of diversity.”
Lévy’s clientele is as wide-ranging as his offerings. “I’ve known some of my customers for 30 years, which has led to crafting shirts for their sons and grandsons. I love that generational evolution because it creates the strongest links with people, and that’s a key driving force for what I do,” he says. The majority of his customers are French, but Lévy also greets individuals from the likes of West Africa and Australia. He tells me that his foreign customer base is growing, and while he is modest on this, it’s an exciting revelation. Here, we have a business that offers enduringly elegant silhouettes, assembled with artisanal skill against the backdrop of France’s fashion capital. Add Lévy’s own personal suavity into the mix, and it’s sure-fire recipe for success.
Thomas Mason is a brand of cotonificio albini s.p.a.
Cotonificio Albini S.p.A. - Via Dr. Silvio Albini 1, 24021 Albino (BG) – Italy Società con unico socio - diretta e coordinata da Albini Group S.p.A. P.I. 01884530161 - C.F. 08743540158 - Iscritta al Registro Imprese di Bergamo - REA 244649 Capitale sociale sottoscritto e versato € 11.170.960