There are some stores that are more than places to buy things. They are world-views, carefully curated by a handful of particularly discerning individuals trying to share their visions with other like-minded individuals. Few stores exemplify this in the world of men’s clothing like Arny’s Paris.
My first trip to Arny’s was something of a pilgrimage. I was visiting my girlfriend during her semester abroad in Paris and discovered she had class just around the corner. That gave me an hour and a half to make the trek over to the Rue Sèvres and to rummage around. I was elated.
Although I speak no French, clearly couldn’t afford anything on offer, and was in a sort of dreamlike daze, the staff were friendly and did everything they could to make me feel welcome. The sumptuous decor makes it feel more like a Baron’s parlor than a clothing emporium. So much so that it took all my self-restraint to not take one of the oversized cashmere scarves and curl up on the couch for a little mid-day nap.
Not all of the clothes are too my taste, but I appreciate them nonetheless. Sure I won’t be wearing a velvet trimmed Forestiere jacket anytime soon, nor do I need a technicolor suede safari jacket, but they sure are beautiful. Arny’s Paris is making clothes for the dandy in his truest, essentially French incarnation – think Cocteau, who was an avid customer himself. They sit somewhere between classic and high fashion clothing, doing something entirely unique to them.
Jean Grimbert is the esteemed owner/proprietor, and is another such dandy. His grey mustache and always colorful clothes speak volumes about the soul of Arny’s. That his Norwich Terrier Bob can sometimes be found in the shop just adds to the charm. When Bob isn’t around in corpore, you can find his likeness on pocket squares and ties around the shop. The wool/silk Bob pochette can only be described with the word “charming.”
There are other little pieces the more conservative of us can enjoy. In particular, their famous unlined seven-fold silk “Atelier” ties are true neckwear masterpieces. The silk is thick and heavy, handling almost more like tumbled leather than typical tie silk. The result is a tie that creases and hangs heavily. Really unique and elegant. The thick block stripes are my favorite, especially in colors like green/purple and blue/orange. The shagreen barrel cufflinks are also at the top of my list, should any readers feel particularly generous today. Just poking around the Arny’s online store is worth the time.
Sadly, Arny’s Paris was recently acquired by a multinational luxury conglomerate. With Olde English, another Paris institution closing its doors earlier this year, it is more important now than ever that Arny’s be allowed to retain its DNA. Hopefully we have nothing to worry about.