A loud crunch – our black Mercedes comes to a halt on the white gravel leading to Quai d’Orsay. A bad omen? The tall sandstone building, following the Seine in front of us, our delegation was well aware of the historic chance that lay ahead – not many Germans have entered it with peace in mind. We exchange long glances as the driver pulls the squeaking hand break. The doors are opened and foreign ministers great, us assistants still in the car. Our eyes are drawn upward through the open door following the tall building skywards, we gulp. The diplomatic spotlight is on us!
A deep breath as we pull on our jackets. Our suits are as meticulously put together as is every second of this most important day. Hours of thought were put into what diplomatic effect that buttons and pleats may have. What suit would make friends? Of course, no suit can. We need the embodiment of discretion, something noticeably reserved!
My tailor recommended a pin-dot-stripe fabric by Holland & Sherry, a worsted with a sturdy yet fine touch. Its weight of 370 grams drapes perfectly, makes it hardy and suits grey and wet Paris perfectly. The colour; exactly what we wanted! The blue is elegant, not quite a navy, it’s lighter, almost glowing blue, friendlier. The underlying grey keeps it professional. The finely dotted stripes add character and life, without being too brash.
The jacket is single-breasted; a three-button, less dynamic look to us. It is quite conservative, as negotiations regarding Europe’s future aren’t a canvas for too severe self-expression. The suit is made to support in any occasion. To keep our minds on what is important – the negotiations. We have added a single-breasted, five button waistcoat, neatly shaping us from head to toe, keeping the formality – with jacket or without, in the car or yet another round of heated discussion, our braces are hidden. Also, let’s not put too much hope into the heating of a beautiful but old building like the French Foreign Ministry.
The trousers? Double pleated, of course! The pleats add volume and secure a smooth transition from waistcoat to trouser. Their turn-ups sit perfectly on top of our cap-toe Oxfords, by our friend Korbinian Ludwig Hess. The shirt and tie are in supporting roles, the suit being striped enough. A sky-blue Thomas Mason poplin shirt featuring a simple Kent collar and double cuffs, is paired with a dark-blue subtly patterned tie. The undoubtedly more elegant, black Eton-tie being reserved for our English colleagues – at least we might have made friends! JB/JoLo/YS