Mr. Eric Trépreau

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Meet Mr. Eric Trépreau (@elegantinparis) from Paris, IT project manager in private banking.

Eric, how do you define your style?

Understated with elegant simplicity.

What does it mean for you to be a Modern Gentleman?

I will not be original but for me, a gentleman behaviour can be defined by various timeless qualities, such as manners, honesty, humility, altruism but also simplicity. It includes a lot of little simple things in everyday life: saying “hello” to the people you use to see, like the janitor of your building or the security agent at your office, being interested to what people say in a discussion, respecting elders or letting a woman pass before you somewhere. A gentleman’s concern has to be oriented towards the others, but in a natural way and without any afterthought. Regarding the external aspect (aka clothes), I assume a gentleman has not to be necessarily well dressed. The matter of elegance is something different, even if most people considered as gentlemen are well dressed. It is maybe a way to make people feel comfortable, as one will prefer to trust someone dressed up with good taste rather than in a cheap or quirky outfit.

That being said, there is the “modern” part of the question: nowadays, some of our relationships with people have become online, through social networks especially. But on platforms like Instagram for instance, people are sometimes more inclined to show off rather than to share things. I mean, you got a new suit, car or watch, don’t post a dozen pictures of it, shouting loud “NWA” (New Watch Alert) or any other trendy hashtags in your stories. Be humble. Just post one or two photos and spend more time to discover new things on other people’s profiles, exchange with them to learn about their hobbies and like regularly the posts of the people you follow or appreciate, even if their pictures are so-so.

Last but not least, you do not declare yourself to be a gentleman. That is what people may think about you, and if so, that’s fine, but I think a true gentleman does not really care about being a gentleman, this is not his purpose.

When it comes to style, where do you mostly get your inspiration from?

Definitely the sixties, starting from the late fifties. On the one hand, you have a sharp business look popularized in the last decade by the Mad Men TV series, and on the other hand, the Ivy League style was at its best. On theatres, James Bond started to kill spies and villains with class, while Steve McQueen was acting in movies like “The Thomas Crown Affair” with such a style. And don’t forget that at the end of the sixties, Ralph Lauren will start to sell his ties, roots of an empire to come.

Regarding horology, dress watches became sportier, yet staying elegant. Tuxedo or cross hair dials on Tudor Oyster Prince or Omega Constellation for example, really brought dress watches to another level. Sport watches born in the fifties like the Rolex Submariner or Explorer reached a maturity in the sixties with the references 5513 and 1016 respectively, that will become the longest-running references for these models. And what about the Omega Speedmaster, the Rolex Daytona or the Heuer Autavia and Carrera? All these iconic manual wound chronographs are born in the late fifties/early sixties.

Let’s finish with cars: Jaguar E-type, Porsche 901/911 or Aston Martin DB4 and DB5, some of the sexiest cars ever have been built during this decade, and motorsport knew a golden age, with the Ferrari 250 GTO and the Ford GT40 running wild on the track of Daytona or at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

What’s your personal style signifier?

Likely accessories.

I have a thing with Hermès vintage silk twill ties. They can have geometrical patterns, horse bits or whimsical animals, I really love the touch of the fabric. The interesting thing is that all the models have a reference number at their back that can help to date them and make them more collectable.

When I wear a suit, I like to have a few details that people may not notice at first sight, like some understated cufflinks, a fine watch, or some collar stays made of mother-of-pearl or tortoise shell. Collar stays are maybe the most pointless yet essential men’s accessories, as only you know you wear them!

Then, pocket squares are also among my favourites, either with a suit or a sport jacket: pairing them with a tie or a whole outfit, is such a daily mind-breaker exercise, but rewarding when you think you have found the right combo.

What are your favorite wardrobe essentials?

My dressing habits fall into two trends:

Classic business suits: plain blue or grey, Prince of Wales or chalk stripe suits, sometimes with a vest in winter, with a pair of black or Bordeaux oxford.

Sport jackets and odd trousers, for the weekend or at the office too, depending on my mood (and not on “Friday wear”): some flannel trousers paired with a turtleneck sweater in winter or a chino with a linen shirt in summer, both with a pair of loafers, are outfits I like to wear depending on the season.

What are your main passions and how do you cultivate them?

I am a watch enthusiast, trying to collect different styles of timepieces (dressy or sporty, but mainly vintage) in order to match them with my various outfits. I really feel that watches have to match with the cuff and the style you are wearing – for example, a Cartier Tank makes more sense under a shirt cuff rather than worn with a t-shirt, while a diver watch, either a Seiko Prospex or a Rolex Submariner, looks great with a navy sweater.

I also collect other fine objects such as vintage ties, cufflinks or Japanese netsuke (small carved figurines made of ivory or wood, used in Japan in the 17th-18th centuries to maintain the cord of boxes or pouches hung at the belt). Maybe history and elegance are the common points between all these objects I gather.

Art is something I do like too. Modern or contemporary art, because it goes beyond beauty and sometimes needs some keys or thinking to understand it, but also African, Oceanian and native American art that I have started to collect recently, for their raw qualities. As I have the chance to work in the centre of Paris, I often go to galleries or auctions sales exhibitions during my lunch breaks or after work, to see some awesome works that I could not see anywhere else, even in museums.

Tell us what can never be missing in your liquor cabinet.

A good old single malt whisky, rather peaty, is definitely a must-have in my cabinet. I also like to have some vermouth and gin for the spring/summer season, for aperitif or mixed with some tonic or in a cocktail.

What does your ideal Sunday look like?

For me, an ideal Sunday would be in spring, my favourite season. It would start at the terrace of a café, chilling and reading a book, a newspaper or the latest Gents Cafe newsletter! As I get older, I have realized that one of the most precious things that I don’t have enough is “time”. So, on this perfect day, I would not have planned anything before, just doing things as they come, like wandering in the streets, visiting an unexpected exhibition or spending time with my kids. Eventually, that Sunday must finish in a good restaurant, then at the bar of a fine hotel to sip a good Lagavulin or Macallan. Today was a good day, as said Ice Cube.

Describe an interesting trip you have taken and tell us and what’s the next destination on your bucket list.

One of the most unforgettable trips I had the chance to make is probably in south Africa, in a safari lodge for a few days. Being out of the world, without any internet connection, waking up at dawn to ride a jeep and see wild animals up close is probably one of the greatest experiences I had in my life. A funny anecdote was during the night we arrived at the lodge, while the taxi was driving on a backroad in the reserve, we had to stop to let pass… a lion.

I don’t think it will be my next destination but travelling in a luxury train like the Venice Simplon-Orient Express is a trip that I hope I will make sooner or later. I have always liked to travel by train, because it lets you time to watch the landscape and dream, and the Orient Express is such a piece of history.

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