It is our pleasure to open PG’s pages to Pierre de Bonneuil as an exceptional contributor by gracing you with a very complete summary of September 1920’s edition of French magazine Monsieur.
As Pierre outlines on his Facebook page, “Monsieur was founded in December 1919 at 4 rue de Tronchet in Paris by Jacques Hébertot and Paul Poiret, who created it as a tribute to distinction, posture and wit.”
While it is fashionable to never veer one’s eyes off the future, under penalty of being pejoratively labelled as old-fashioned, conservative and other derogatories, this stylish commentary is unusually heartening and deliciously timeless. And even, in some regards, thoroughly contemporary, for those who can read between its erudite lines and transpose these otherworldly words to the twenty first century.
The September 1920 edition provides guidance on the usage of wit. The elite of stylish life wear a fragrant sense of ethics whose spiritual implications are reflected in the epistolary affect.
The journal features a different format for the rentrée (translated roughly as “back to school”, it bears in France the meaning of a return to everyone’s daily grind after a month of nationalized leisure). The pages of the ninth edition reveal unusual foresight and a bold approach to aesthetic and sartorial choices. Four writers have contributed a fierce analysis of their times.
I – René Boylesve Member of the Académie Française, penned a pamphlet that is everything but trivial. Education is a lynchpin of the ideological conception of language. He holds culture in high consideration:
New social climbers should take in the idea that one must go to school before visiting a tailor.
He differentiates sartorial skill and an unrefined language
What is the purpose of being well dressed with a boorish soul? One always reaches the same conclusion: no elegance starts elsewhere than in the mind. I know a gent whose nondescript suit is worn and who, with a certain air, blinds your smitten eyes and humiliates you for wearing a well cut suit. Besides, have you ever been to Deauville in the summer? Nothing amuses more than a nobody with pocketfuls of scrips, dressed by Carette and talking like a sewer worker.
II – Jean-Napoléon Faure-Biguet expresses genuine emotion when he writes about the matter of taste.
Truth of the matter is, taste is one of the rare things which do not change, and Dadaism still hasn’t invaded the cave.
Rules apply which the protagonist shall apply:
After fish: a Graves or a Sauternes, so wonderfully golden under the light. After a roast, any Grand Cru from Burgundy or Bordeaux, a Saint-Estèphe, a soft and dark Château Margaux, or a Romanée.
With certain lightness, he describes the proliferation of popular beliefs and cannot help chastising Paris at large while exhibiting disarming wisdom:
The electric lamp’s luminous disk leaves a golden speck on the black staircase… Following a valet carrying a long basket, Monsieur goes down to the cave. In the shadow, he stretches a quick smile and recalls the romantic episodes of the shelters described by his godmother to amuse him, in the times of the gothas
III – It through the subject of time that Gérard Bauër expresses his resent. He opens with an exalted aphorism
I can not fathom how a genuine dandy who does not have a bit of time to waste every day to devote to the meaningless inanities which really form the greatest pleasure of life.
His idea presumes a non existing relationship with work and a surprising vision of freedom.
Freedom may be the last nobility of our times. It is rather easy to become rich, for he who invests just any amount of effort, some ruse, some wit or obstinacy. Yet, it is already not as easy to be free, and if each day brings on a few idle hours, there is an art in using them.
He follows with a graceful and touching thought:
In the morning, you must feel the beautiful uncertainty of the upcoming hours: you will get up, stare at the skies, seize the tone of the street, and enjoy the right to check the hue on your heart, to see how it blends with the light of the day.
IV- Curious of men’s fashion, René Bizet shares his logic:
He would study the synthesis of fashion at the very centre of the Place de la République, under the shadow of the statue of Bartholdi and, on certain hours, enjoy the spectacle of the Boulevards.
Through the shining mind of the writer, one can perceive an allusion to shapes, cuts and measures. Emphasizing Parisian integrity:
Bowler hats are rare, as they should be.
He distinguishes between the popular wearers of a shirt without a detachable collar, the victory of the waistcoat worn without a jacket, the apotheosis of the trouser holding without suspenders, the chaos of neckties, the disappearance of cuffs, all surprises of a rebellious streak against order, rules and common sense.
Wishing his reader the best, he provides advice on grooming and dressing, praising bespoke and sharing his bonnes adresses with undeniable gusto.
This luxurious effort challenges vulgarity and opens the door to the transposition of a poetic state of mind unto those gifted with reflection.
Pierre De Bonneuil.