Habilitate Talks to Bienluienapris

Bienluienapris in a Prince of Wales suit

One of the joys of the world of online menswear is its ability to connect people. This has certainly been the case with my friend Loïc, who you might know as Bienluienapris on Instagram and elsewhere. In a different life, we would have been separated by cultures, continents, careers, and countless other seemingly unbridgeable factors. Yet today, despite us never having met in person, he is someone whose life and interests I follow closely online and who I have come to message from time to time as you would an old friend. 

This spark of friendship could not have been ignited were it not for Loïc’s Instagram account, on which he primarily posts photos of his impeccable outfits. More often than not, these demonstrate Loïc’s excellent taste in tailoring, in addition to his equally characterful collection of casualwear, his prolific travels, his taste in music, and more besides. 

Loïc is, simply put, one of the most stylish men I know and I was thrilled when he agreed to do this interview. I was even happier when I read his answers, which demonstrate all of the taste, generosity, and joie de vivre that I have come to associate with him. He has always struck me as a man who really knows how to live and I’m grateful to him for sharing a bit of that knowledge with us.

Bienluienapris in a camouflage jacket

I know many readers will be very familiar with your face and wardrobe from your presence online, but they might not know that much about you beyond that. Could you start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

My passions extend beyond the world of fashion, though I am particularly interested in the arts, photography, architecture, different cultures, food, and cinema.  I formed a great taste (maybe not a good taste) over the years and I am naturally very curious, which I believe is important in modern society.

Among your many interests, I think of you as someone who is quite immersed in the menswear community. You have a long-running and prolific Instagram account, you’re a regular feature on menswear sites like Put This On, and this year you attended both Pitti Uomo and Watches & Wonders. When did you first get interested in clothing and how did you become immersed in the world of online menswear?

I absolutely adore fashion and it has been a passion of mine ever since I can remember. I have a story that is just too good not to share with you! When I was just a 4-year-old, my mom used to lay out my school outfits for my brother and I the night before. One evening, I took a look at the ensemble she had chosen for me and knew it just wouldn’t work. The colours clashed and the pattern was all wrong! To my surprise, my mom decided to play a little game with me and picked out the kookiest outfit she could for my little brother. And guess what? I ended up choosing the outfits for myself and my brother! I really enjoyed it.

As a teenager, I tried to look my best. I spent hours pouring over fashion blogs like Parisian Gentleman and Stiff Collar, but back then, I didn’t have the occasion to wear suits. As a student, I was all about casual wear. But everything changed when I landed an internship at a bank. Suddenly, I was in the world of suits! That’s when I discovered De Pied en Cap — the French version of Styleforum — and I was absolutely hooked. I have discovered a group of like-minded fashion enthusiasts who share my passion for style, and guess what? I actually got to meet some of them in person in Geneva and France! It was such an incredible experience that we ended up collaborating on some amazing projects together, even sourcing exclusive ties and shoes just for our forum users. At the time I understood that I don’t have to wear the same thing every day, and I can start experimenting with styling my suits in exciting and interesting ways.

I also used En Grande Pompe and Styforum for research and inspiration. With time, I switched from blogs to Instagram. These are two different platforms, while blogs are still a great source of information and inspiration, Instagram is slightly more practical. It helped me connect with plenty of different people, who also share my values and interests. I even became great friends with some of them. It’s I guess the good side of social media.

Bienluienapris in winter clothing

How would you describe the clothing you like to wear?

Oh what a tricky question! For me, the most important ingredient to any outfit is undoubtedly FUN! I love adding a little twist to my outfits, whether it’s through a pop of colour, an interesting texture, or a bold pattern. I cherish every single piece of clothing in my wardrobe, and I make a conscious effort to wear each and every item, even if some get more wear than others.

When it comes to style, I like to mix it up and experiment with different looks. I firmly believe that you can look amazing in any outfit, as long as it’s coherent and makes you feel confident. Whether I’m dressed in a sharp suit, hiking in the mountains during the summer, hitting the slopes in the winter, or exploring the jungles during holidays, I always make sure to wear appropriate clothing for the situation. With the right attitude and the right outfit, anything is possible!

Well said! I mentioned Pitti Uomo and Watches & Wonders before, which are arguably the most important events on the menswear and watch-enthusiast calendars every year. What were they like for you to attend? Also, how do you pack for something like that?

I’ve been lucky enough to attend several events in the past like Baselworld and SIHH now renamed to Watches & Wonders. Living in Geneva definitely has its perks, as I have some great connections within the industry. Spending a week discussing watches with amateurs and professionals alike is truly a dream come true. Watches & Wonders is the main event, but there are other exhibitions taking place in town at the same time. One of my favourites is the AHCI (Académie Horlogère des Créateur Indépendants) exhibition, where you can meet real craftsmen who spend five years or more creating their watches. You can literally spend hours chatting with them, trying on their watches, and learning about their craft. Plus, the atmosphere is amazing — they stay open until around midnight, the bar is fantastic, and sometimes they even serve Raclette, a Swiss traditional food made out of melted cheese.

Now, onto Pitti Uomo, something I’ve been following for ages. I always loved seeing pictures from the event, but the timing never seemed to work out for me. But this winter, I finally made it happen with a group of friends. It was like going on holiday, but in a place where everyone is well-dressed and shares the same interest as you. We spent our time meeting new people, chatting about clothes, and eating and drinking (maybe a little too much, if I’m being honest). It’s incredible to see how such a small common interest can create a sense of fraternity and make it so easy to connect with others.

As for packing, Watches&Wonders was a breeze since I live in Geneva. But for Pitti Uomo, I checked the weather forecast and packed a few of my favourite pieces that I know work well together. I like to travel light, but with such a fashionable crowd, it was impossible to resist packing a little extra. Nonetheless, I had an amazing time and can’t wait to do it all over again!

Before we get further into clothing, I also wanted to talk to you about watches. You have a great selection of vintage pieces, including a Cartier Santos and a couple of Universal Genève watches, I think? Do you have a favourite watch? What are the most important considerations for you when buying a watch?

I do have a vintage Santos and three watches from Universal Genève. I really love what Universal used to design in the past, but, sadly, the brand does not do well lately. When it comes to buying a new watch, the first thing I always check is the size and thickness. I don’t like them too big or bulky — I want to be comfortable and stylish at the same time! And don’t even get me started on the intricate details. That’s what makes horology so fascinating. I usually like watches that have a little bit of history and personality. One of my absolute favourites has to be the Ultra-slim White Shadow from Universal Genève. It was designed by the legendary Gérald Genta and features a micro-rotor movement, making it one of the slimmest watches ever made before Piaget released the Altiplano. The good news is that the prices are still fair, while many vintage watches saw their prices skyrocketing these past few years.

Bienluienapris Universal Genève watch

I imagine Geneva is a pretty great place to live if you’re interested in watches. What is the city’s menswear scene like?

Well, honestly the fashion scene in Geneva is not spectacular. Of course, people here dress impeccably in a classic way, but I always crave a little more diversity. 

Yet, there are a few shops that truly stand out. One of my absolute favourites is Revenga Genève, a local shirtmaker that produces everything locally. Their bespoke shirts are simply incredible and they even offer tailoring services in collaboration with the renowned Sartoria Dalcuore based in Naples. A definite must-visit when in Geneva. 

But that’s not all — we also have a few fantastic vintage stores that are definitely worth checking out. My personal favourite is Hallures, which is conveniently located in my neighbourhood. It’s a passion project by a young couple and their collection of vintage American clothes is simply stunning. From the carefully curated selection to the impeccable attention to detail, you can really see the love and effort that goes into this store.

While you always dress well regardless of formality, I particularly think of you in the context of tailored clothing. Do wear suits primarily for work, or would you want to dress in a suit and tie regardless of professional considerations?

I enjoy wearing suits both at work and in my free time. Prior to the pandemic, my wardrobe consisted mainly of tailored garments. But with the rise of remote work and a less formal work environment, I’ve started dressing more casually. Now, I’m all about balance. It’s almost always a suit during my office days, but I let loose with casual clothing during weekends, holidays, and home-office days. And for events, it all depends on the occasion. The most important thing to me is having fun with what I wear and feeling comfortable in it. When you achieve that, you’ll look like a million bucks, no doubt about it.

Which are your favourite places to buy tailoring and what are the kinds of things you look for when you buy a suit?

When it comes to dressing up, nothing beats visiting a tailor. I normally buy bespoke suits in Italy, I have a few from Naples. But for me, the ultimate experience is at Sartoria Corcos in Florence — the mastery, the vision, the cut — it’s an absolute match made in heaven! I obviously haven’t tried everything out there, but as of now, this is hands down my favourite. 

When it comes to choosing a tailor, the first thing to consider is whether you like their general style and what they do. While trunk shows are good for meeting a craftsman for the first time, I suggest visiting them at their workshop to launch a project. It’s a different experience where you can spend more time discussing, touching, and discovering the craft. It might sound a bit mystical, but I believe that visiting the tailor in their city or street, feeling the vibes, and taking time for reflection is a vital element in the process. Building a relationship with your tailor is also crucial, and that comes with trust and comfort with the people you work with. I always go for the house style — it’s what the tailor knows and loves to do, and if I’m discussing a project with them, it’s because I adore what they do.

If you were speaking to someone who was just starting to build a tailoring wardrobe, where would you advise them to begin?

Experiment and try! Let your passion lead the way! Reading about fashion and discussing it with others is great, but the real learning happens through your own experiences. You may stumble or succeed, but it’s all part of the journey to your growth. Don’t limit yourself by being scared to try new things — it’s important to push the boundaries and find what works best for you.

Sometimes when you’re passionate about something, you may feel the need to follow every rule and become obsessed with details, like the exact length of a shirt sleeve or the width of a tie. But remember, don’t overthink it! Enjoy the process and have fun with it.

A great way to start your fashion journey is by checking out thrift stores. You can see how different colours and cuts work for you without breaking the bank. In Paris, you have to check out Chez Ammar. It’s a thrift store owned by the famous Ammar, who teaches everyone alike about the art of tailoring. So go ahead, take a chance, and let your passion for fashion lead the way!

Bienluienapris wearing an All Blues Co fleece

As I mentioned, you are equally skilled at dressing down. Do you have any go-to sources for buying more casual clothes?

Let me share with you some of my favourite places to shop. I’m not one to buy everything in the same place, but I do have a few go-to spots that I absolutely love.

First off, let’s talk about trousers. The chinos from Casatlantic are simply amazing. They’ve got a great fit, with a good high rise and sturdy construction that really stands up to wear and tear.

When it comes to summer shirts and outerwear, vintage clothing is always a fantastic option. I buy a lot at Hallures as I mentioned before. But take a look at shops like Brut Clothing and Broadway & Sons, they always have some unique pieces that really stand out.

And let’s not forget about knitwear. Rubato is a favourite of mine. Their cuts and designs are always spot on, and the quality is top-notch.

For something a little different, check out the work of All Blues Co. Their deep pile fleece is a real standout, and Harago has some beautiful pieces perfect for the summer season. And if you’re in the market for a linen summer shirt, don’t miss out on the offerings from Chad Prom. Beams also always have a splendid selection.

There’s so much variety out there these days, it’s almost overwhelming. But with a little exploration and experimentation, you’re sure to find some gems that really speak to your style.

How do you usually begin putting an outfit together and when do you plan what you’ll wear on a given day?

The night before, I start envisioning what I want to wear based on the weather forecast. It’s all about striking the perfect balance between warmth and style, you know what I mean? I let my creativity run and I start building my outfit around a key piece or combination that’s been on my mind. Maybe it’s a bold tie, a cosy sweater, or a sharp suit. And when I get my hands on something new, you better believe I’m wearing it ASAP! I’ll start with something simple, and then, as I get more comfortable, I’ll push the envelope and try new pairings that really make me stand out. Inspiration for my outfit ideas can come from anywhere — an Instagram post, a chance encounter on the street, or even a work of art or a movie.

I know you are a keen traveller and I’m always checking out the holiday photos you post in your Instagram stories. So I’m curious to know of all the places you’ve been, where do you think about returning to most often? Also, what are your favourite cities to go clothes shopping?

I am a passionate traveller and my wife is a great trip planner. We love exploring new and uncharted territories, but we also love visiting places we have already visited. It is never a bad idea to go to Copenhagen or to Mexico, for example! I mean, why not have the best of both worlds? While there are so many amazing places I’ve yet to explore — like Korea, the South Pole, Argentina, Svalbard, Mongolia, and countless others — I’m always up for revisiting any of the places I’ve already fallen in love with. After all, the world is vast and there’s always something new to discover.

Recently, we travelled to Japan for the first time and it was an absolute blast. We fell in love with it and I can’t wait to go back and explore more. But honestly, I have loved every place I’ve ever travelled to. Every corner of the world has something unique and special to offer, from breathtaking sights to mouth-watering cuisine to fascinating people. For me, travelling is like food for the soul, and I’ll jump at any chance to explore new destinations or revisit old favourites.

Shopping during trips is an absolute thrill for me. It’s the perfect opportunity to score one-of-a-kind finds that you can’t get anywhere else. And let me tell you, discovering thrift shops and flea markets in other countries is a game-changer! I mean, have you seen the incredible selection of second-hand clothes in Japan? It’s like stepping into a vintage wonderland! But London, Paris and Italy in general are great places to start with.

Finally, I also know music is important to you — can you send us out on a music recommendation that you’ve been enjoying lately?

Phew, that is not easy! The music scene is exploding with amazing releases every month! It’s mind-blowing, and that’s not even including all the classics from the past that still hold up today.

If you want to discover more, feel free to check out my Spotify account. But as a French person, I’m excited to share with you 10 tracks from 10 different French artists who have been making waves lately, some of whom you may know, and some of whom you might not have heard of yet. 

Bienluienapris in casualwear

All images courtesy of Bienluienapris

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