Hailing from the Auvergne in France, born, in his own words ‘at the foot of the chain of the volcanoes in Vercingetorix country’ (he who was king of the Arverni), his formative years were spent at a Jesuit/Marist boarding school where the uniform of the time, Mathon ominously recalls, was ‘big grey blouses, which hid our clothes’. A precursor to future sartorial rebellion maybe? He left home in 1987, moving to the French capital to embark upon a career in advertising and marketing, working for none other than Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis: ‘Those were the best years in advertising. There was creativity with very few taboos, which suited me well. We called it les années pub (the ad years)’. By the age of 30, Mathon had founded his first advertising agency to add to a portfolio of three interiors stores, three restaurants and a spa. He’s lived in Paris ever since, in Palais-Royal, just a short walk from the Louvre.
Any menswear inspirations (eg, your father, grandfather)?
I’ve never really had inspiration from outside. I do everything quite instinctively, without worrying about others or trends. The only people who could have possibly inspired me are 1990s golfers, such as Payne Stewart or Jarmo Sandelin (dressed by J Lindeberg and Burberry). In reality, being a golfer myself, I felt like I was not alone in my clothing delusions. I was overjoyed when I found the J Lindeberg boutique in New York.
How would you describe your personal style and how long has it taken to perfect the polished looks we see today on your Instagram account?
I am unable to define my style; moreover, if I managed to define it, I would feel trapped, but I like freedom. I can’t say if my style has changed or not, because I’ve always dressed this way. I am not very sensitive to the great sartorial rules, in the sense that I don’t care how you tie a tie or what pair of shoes you choose. When it comes to rules, I run away. I trust my instincts and never look in the mirror. I’ve never had one. In fact, it was my girlfriend who suggested I buy one a month ago. But that doesn’t help me much!
You’re a big fan of layering. Talk us through the dos and don’ts…
Yes, I like the layering of clothes (I couldn’t live in a hot country). It’s an opportunity to create, because you enter the territory of subtlety: an extra piece or the wrong colour and your outfit can be destroyed. But sometimes you should not hesitate to play with a touch of fantasy, so long as it’s done in good taste. You have to be daring and have fun. I like to play with colours, materials, ties and pocket squares. I often use a waistcoat, because it is regularly the link between the jacket and the trousers on a mismatched outfit. In the same way, I rarely wear full suits – they seem too serious and austere to me, far from my identity – so on the rare occasion I do wear one, I will add a waistcoat to liven it up a bit.
You have a quirky sense of sartorial style, for instance pairing a dogtooth waistcoat with a pair of camouflage trousers. How do you get your inspiration?
I get dressed very quickly without really thinking. Every morning, I choose a piece – it can be trousers, a jacket or a waistcoat – and I match everything around the piece I have chosen. As I have a lot of clothes, it goes very quickly; it’s very instinctive. Again, I have no inspiration, it’s something very personal.
Who is your go-to tailor?
I really like Maison Gabriel at 26 Rue du Mont Thabor in Paris (close to Jardin des Tuileries) for jackets and coats. Cyril Arvengas, the boss there, and Romain are two valuable people in this business. Berteil for safari jackets (because it has a large choice of fabrics) and Marc Guyot for more daring pieces.
What are your favourite ready-to-wear brands?
- Ralph Lauren (jackets)
- Maison Gabriel (suits, coats)
- Wicket (suits, jackets)
- L’Egoïste (waistcoats, jackets)
- Berteil (safari jackets)
- Crémieux (jackets, trousers, shirts)
- Maison Bonnet (glasses)
- L’Ingénieur Chevallier (glasses)
- J.M. Weston (shoes)
- Bowen (shoes)
- Caulaincourt (shoes and patinas)
- Marc Guyot (shoes and patinas)
You’re a menswear model. Tell us about some of the places you have visited and any particular favourites/interesting stories along the way?
I am a photo producer and creative director for certain brands, and I sometimes produce fashion editorials for select magazines – which allows me to travel and take with me a family that I have created over time. This is my best adventure: to have been able to create a family to which many would like to belong. I am lucky to have been able to work with excellent photographers and videographers, such as Jonathan Daniel Pryce, Luc Braquet, JB Pellerin, Rémi Cluzeau etc… One of my best memories was a shoot at Villa Cagni Troubetzkoy on Lake Como where my team and I stayed for four days. Pascal Cagni, the owner, was adorable with us; we were treated like kings in his villa, which is one of the most beautiful Lake-bordering properties. I remember that I needed two Riva boats, one to put the models in and another to shoot the scene, but I didn’t dare ask him. So I told him that I needed a helicopter to be sure to have at least two boats. In fact, I have plenty of stories!
What are the key items you always travel with?
White jeans from Ralph Lauren and my camouflage pants that I found in New York about 10 years ago.
What’s your favourite suitcase brand?
I don’t have a favourite brand, but I always travel with a tote bag from Rue de Verneuil.
Are you a carry-on suitcase kind of guy or do you prefer to check in your luggage?
It depends on the length of the stay. If it’s for a photoshoot, I only take hand luggage.
For personal vacations, I always have a suitcase to check in.
What are your secret tips for anyone who has to travel for work regularly?
Be on time! I am often too tight in terms of schedules and that stresses my teams.
What’s the most stylish destination you’ve ever been to?
I have travelled a lot, but Paris is the most stylish destination.
Name a place that stole your heart…
There are plenty: Spérone golf course in Corsica; Lake Como in Italy; the Blue Canyon golf course in Phuket; St Petersburg in Russia.
Pierrick Mathon was in conversation with Lee Osborne, creative director, Secret Trips
Follow Pierrick Mathon on Instagram: @balmipede