A classic among the classics of the men’s wardrobe, the white shirt has survived through the ages and dressed great men. However, they follow one another and do not necessarily look alike: this is what we retain by looking at the models (white shirts only) designed by the artistic director Cécile Faucheur for the Bourrienne Paris X brand. Organized in chapters (each model thus bears a name and could well tell a story…) according to the specificities of each piece, her collection is inspired by the details of shirts from the 18th, 19th or 20th century – plastrons, belt loops, collars, gathers and pleats – which she transposes and reinterprets to make us want to wear them again tomorrow, or in thirty years’ time. “The white shirt is timeless because it makes people beautiful. It’s silly, but I’m a firm believer in it,” she says.
The Bourrienne Paris X brand was born in 2017, shortly after Charles Beigbeder bought the Hôtel de Bourrienne on rue d’Hauteville in Paris. The place, steeped in history, inspired him to create a project combining clothing and French heritage. After graduating from ESMOD in 2009 and having worked in both the worlds of haute-couture and mass distribution, Cécile Faucheur was entrusted with the artistic direction of this brand, which offers a monochrome mono-product that she nevertheless manages to adapt and reinterpret through research and inspiration based on details of antique shirts. She agreed to review for us the different details to be taken into account when choosing a white shirt. The fabric: “Linen is perfect for summer. For cotton, the basis is poplin, which can be worn in all seasons, it is a material that breathes well. There are a lot of different poplins: there are some really thick, really ‘material’ poplins. Twill, which is soft and supple, is more for winter but we have customers who got married in summer in twill because it’s a very durable material. The oxford is more for summer but some men wear it in winter. Seersucker was once used by diplomats in Florida. A thread-pulling process, as well as product applications, tightens the fibres in certain places and this allows the cotton to contract to create a kind of embossing that breathes very well. It’s perfect for very hot countries.” The collar: “The difference in collar is something you see depending on the face. For example, there are men who have a small neck and therefore some collars will not fit them. Others have very long necks or a double chin. I find that between an Italian collar and a French collar, there is one that will fit you better than the other according to the morphology of your face, it’s quite obvious. We try to survey our customers, we show them and we really take the time to choose with them what suits them best.” © Provided by GQ Etienne PerrinWrists: “Whatever the wrist, 1cm must always exceed. Our wrists, whatever the construction, always arrive at the same length. A musketeer wrist, it’s more dressy, it’s the most adapted for a ceremony. A simple wrist will be more classic for everyday life. Some of our wrists are a little hybrid, we can wear a Bourrienne wrist – it is inspired by the puffed sleeves of the time which were tightened by a small band – in a day like today or for a wedding. When you see two back shirts, they are the same but the wrist is different. It’s a question of style or small details that change. Length: “We offer three lengths, even four: for suits, we have fitted shirts with three centimetres more so that they can be tucked into the trousers. The classic length can be worn inside or outside, but we prefer the outside. We also offer shirts with a shirt length that really takes up the length of old shirts. And now we have a length that is extra long, more arty and orientalizing.”
The breastplate: “At the time, it was to protect your heart during combat. There were detachable bibs that could be changed if you ate badly. Now it’s just decorative, it dresses up the front of the shirt, which is pretty simple. Buttons: A mother-of-pearl button will be cold on the lips and a plastic button is warm. Construction: The number of stitches per centimeter on the seam is super important: it’s really the most important thing in a shirt. On one centimeter, you need six or seven. We’re at 6. Then you have to watch the collar. Then, the side seams: if you have a very big seam, I find it less chic. But it’s more a question of taste. At the bottom, there may be some swallows at the bottom to prevent the shirt from tearing when you tuck it in, out, put it on and take it off. Then you can also look at the inside seam: there can be double-needle seams, that’s the best thing.” The transparency of the fabric: “If a shirt is transparent, it’s a no-no for me. We have a certain whiteness. One day, we wanted to change our fabric supplier and it wasn’t the same white at all. So we told him no. Depending on the climate when the cotton is spun or picked up, and depending on the treatment, there is what is called a flame. Laflamme is the reflection of colour that you’re going to see on white. There is an effect when you wear it. There are hot or cold whites and that’s awful, it makes you look bad. We don’t use any treatment. There are a lot of brands that use “iron free”: it doesn’t need to be ironed but it’s dipped in ammonia. It’s dangerous for your health and we don’t want that. The fabric wrinkles a little bit, but it lives.”
A few tips to maintain a white shirt: “Linen is moving. It’s a material that’s not at all stable, so you should never wash it above 30°C.” “If the collar gets a little dirtier, it’s best to clean it with Marseille soap and a small nail brush.” “If you have a stain, what works great is to clean it with Marseille soap in warm water and dry the shirt on the grass in the sun.”
“The shirt should be put on a hanger right away when it comes out of the machine. If you put it on a hanger, you’ll always keep both folds.” “No dryer, especially not.” “The dry cleaners, I think they trash them a little. For poplins, it’s best to wash them at home at 30°C or 40°C. When they come back from the dry cleaners, they’re all dry… “How can you not look like everyone else when you wear a white shirt? “I think there are a lot of things that depend on how you look. I think there are a lot of things that depend on how you look. For example, the way you stand: if you wear a white shirt and you don’t stand properly, it ruins everything. There’s an attitude you have to have when you wear a white shirt, maybe it’s in the way you wear your head or the way you hold yourself. And then it’s also the way you accessorize it. For example, a scarf can change everything on a shirt. There are ways to tuck it in, too. There are ways to roll up the sleeves. The top button, whether it’s closed or not…”