Romain Biette is a Parisian bespoke tailor and founder of Ardentes Clipei. He likes the sense of style “à la Française” and wants to perpetuate his knowledge and skills in high tailoring. This Balzacian character, much of a dandy, designs suits with irreproachable cuts and offers a selection of fabrics with perfect drapes. His attention to detail shows in all his creations. We met Romain in his Parisian apartment. He passed on to us his passion for elegance.
Maison Sensey : How did it begin?
Romain Biette : It started with a passion for cinema! I am fascinated by actors such as Steve McQueen or Alain Delon. They are so elegant. At eighteen, I wanted to become an ambassador to represent France abroad. I started studying law without knowing what I would do next. And I ended up taking a 180° turn as I enrolled in a two-year long tailoring course at the AFT (French federation of master tailors).
This course confirmed that I had found my calling. I set up my own business in 2015 and Ardentes Clipei saw the light of day. It was tricky at the start, as I had to understand the market. People do buy made-to-measure clothes, but very few of them buy bespoke tailored clothes. It is a fast-growing market. High tailoring is the ultimate luxury!
What do you want to offer to your clients?
I want to create something younger and more welcoming. People want to experience something special; they want a story to tell. My personality makes the difference, with the signature I bring to my creations. My style is a subtle blend of modernity and tradition: modernity because my suits are very light and flexible – you can barely feel them – and tradition because their cut has harmonious proportions.
How do you manage to preserve the magical side of bespoke tailoring?
Human contact and attention. I am highly attentive to my clients. Some designers impose their point of view to their clients. I take an interest in mine, I get to know their lives, their dreams. I try to translate it through the right cut, the right fabric. I also want to help them look their best, so I guide them towards specific designs according to their body type. It takes courage to move away from standards and from your comfort zone.
Most of my clients are French, and I also have a lot of German clients. I mainly design business suits and, of course, suits for special occasions such as weddings. Clients come to me because they can’t find what they want elsewhere. And what I offer matches their price range.
Today, luxury brands stick to standards, the quality of clothes has lowered a great deal, suits are all slim fits, customer service is no longer up to the prestige of their reputation. Customers are simply trivialized. That’s why it matters to me to bring more than a suit to my clients, I bring them appreciation.
How much does an Ardentes Clipei suit costs?
Prices start at 800€ with a made-to-measure suit manufactured in Europe, with Italian or English fabric. It is tailored to the client’s measurements and arrives finished in Paris. The client comes in for a fitting to alter the suit if necessary and finish it. Alterations and finishing touches are hand-made in my workshop in Paris. The finishing touches include the trouser bottoms, pick stitch of the jacket, as well as lapel and armband buttonholes.
It takes around six weeks for the first suit to be made. I also offer bespoke tailoring that I craft with two other French tailors. They start from 3000€. It takes around three months for the first suit to be made: 60 hours of work, 80% manual work, and three fittings!
What do you think about the evolution of men’s fashion?
The fashion world needs to have a deep reflection on this market. The world is changing and moving fast. And the world won’t adapt to your dreams… My generation is yearning for a return to roots, towards quality and a taste for doing things properly. Men do not necessarily think about wearing suits.
We need to design suits that will adapt to our ways of living, with younger cuts. Today, fabrics are more comfortable, more flexible. But styles and looks are immediately standardized. As soon as something ‘works’, everyone starts wearing it. Those fashion trends never last.
And how does elegance translate?
Elegance is above all a state of mind. One cannot be elegant while being a ‘bad’ person. Elegance goes beyond clothing. For example, Steve McQueen was a great guy! He passes on empathy, sympathy, there is something inspiring about him. Elegance is also the education of taste. We have lost this habit of also getting dressed for others.
Which designers inspire you?
Ralph Lauren, of course! He helped me grow in this craft. His boutiques are beautiful, there is something magical about them, and Ralph Lauren delivers high quality. I love the image he conveys. Bruno Cucinelli also inspires me. He once said, “beauty will save the world”. There is a philosophical approach in his work. His clothes are manufactured in his wife’s home village, he wants to perpetuate the tradition.
In the small world of tailors, I cannot just name a few because so many of them have inspired me and still inspire me today! Both tailors and designs need to keep their eyes open and stay humble in front of their peers to grow better, otherwise they will cage themselves in a narrow-minded vision and will sooner or later disappear. That’s also what I try to do, perpetuating a savoir-faire and a sense of style and tastefulness.