Who knew that Honoré de Balzac was a clotheshorse? With essays titled “Code on Grooming” and “The Art to Bear a Necktie”, the author’s La Comédie Humaine is a testament to his fascination with male elegance (so was his near ruin by the size of his tailor bills). That is why four fashion-savvy partners borrowed the title of his chef d’oeuvre for their sleek new men’s boutique near the Canal Saint Martin. Inspired by and nostalgic for a time when the well-appointed male was meticulously attired from head to toe, the boutique provides ready-to-wear that’s close to custom-made quality, with every item carefully selected from the finest manufacurers in France.
The Rastignac shirt is a reminder that a man’s cuffs and collars once indicated his status in life, and could be swapped if soiled or frayed. Produced by one of France’s last surviving shirtmakers, the immaculately tailored chemise comes with a choice of six styles of detachable collar—including wing, French, standup and Peter Pan—and either cufflink or button cuffs.
Everything in the store has a Balzacian reference. Although the variety is limited, everything on display—trousers, tee shirts, overcoats, gloves (from France’s oldest gantier, Maison Causse), silk and cashmere scarves, leather bags and bowties—is impeccable.
24 rue Yves Toudic, 10th, 01.42.41.43.24. www.lacomediehumaine.com 
Originally published in the December 2012 issue of France Today