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April 28, 2022

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Collaboration between Fursac and Orchestre de Paris

photography Alexandre Guirkinger

Jonathan Reith, trombone

A SYMPHONY OF CLOTHING

The Paris Orchestra (Orchestre de Paris) gave a performance on April 20, 2022 for a distinguished audience that had filled the stunning Philharmonie de Paris. Under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen, the orchestra performed Maurice Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte, Béla Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin, and Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique. The 67 musicians were dressed in custom-made tuxedos by the Parisian menswear company Fursac, and the elegance that emanated from the stage undoubtedly amazed those who had the honor of being there. Although unusual, this collaboration between an orchestra and a fashion brand is extremely pertinent because it shows how clothing can help keep traditions alive.

 

We associate classical music with formality, elegance, and a sense of timelessness. Classical music encourages us to listen intently and reflect on what we hear. We must immerse ourselves in it completely in order to truly comprehend the range of its nuances. It teaches us about the past and transports us to a different world, including the modern one, which is frequently more challenging for us to understand. Naturally, if we choose to let go. And if we try to picture classical music, we are likely to think of the formal attire that is favored by the musicians as well as concertgoers in evening gowns or suits. In fact, this may be described as a “symphony of clothing”.

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Collaboration between Fursac and Orchestre de Paris

photography Alexandre Guirkinger

Igor Boranian, double bass and André Cazalet, French horn

Fursac was founded in Paris in 1973, and its name comes from the little town of Saint-Pierre-de-Fursac where it established its first workshops. A little under twenty years later, Fursac opened its first store in Paris, the epicenter of 19th-century French elegance, at 112 Rue de Richelieu. The brand, which has a distinctly Parisian feel, has remained true to the tailoring tradition for decades, producing both casual clothing and more formal eveningwear. By combining classic elegance with modern style, Fursac produces collections that are made to last. This takes us full circle to last week when the models—musicians from the Paris Orchestra—unveiled outfits that will be worn all season long. But where does this connection between classical music and the performers’ attire originate from?

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Orchestre de Paris at the Paris Philharmonic hall
at one of the past concerts

Smaller ensembles performed for aristocrats and their guests in private residences as early as the 15th and 16th centuries. In the 17th century, they extended their cooperation with opera troupes that were growing all throughout Europe. Due to this, throughout the first two hundred years of their existence, orchestras were exclusively associated with the upper class and were only hired for the most solemn and formal court ceremonies, which required the formal costume now known as black tie. When performing for high society, musicians had to adhere to etiquette and dress in tailcoats and bow ties. When symphony concerts became more accessible in the 20th century and concert halls filled with music lovers, orchestras decided to preserve their standards of formal wear. The performers of today dress similarly to those of the past. They prefer to wear black, which stands for orchestras’ formality and uniformity, as is well known to the Fursac’s creative director, Gauthier Borsarello.

 

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Gauthier Borsarello,
Photography Julien T. Hamon
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Fursac via Instagram,
Photography Julien T. Hamon

After being born into a musical family thirty-three years ago, Borsarello’s decision to pursue a profession in music was only logical. Having completed his musical training, he earned commendable accolades as a double bass musician, joined the Paris Orchestra, and established himself on stages all over the world. But he soon realized that he did not want to be a professional musician; rather, he wanted to produce something, to create tangible objects. He began by collecting vintage clothes, furniture, and watches. In 2018, he established the vintage showroom Le Vif, where he still serves as curator. At the same time, he co-founded the men’s fashion magazine L'Etiquette, intending to assist men in discovering and cultivating their individual sense of style. Borsarello studies menswear in great detail. As a result of this unwavering devotion, his life took a new turn; in January 2021, he was appointed creative director at Fursac.

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Fursac in L'Étiquette magazine fall/winter 2021/2022

photography Sean Thomas

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Fursac via Instagram,
photography Julien T. Hamon

He says he is more like Picasso than Rembrandt or Monet. Why? On the Handcut radio podcast, he firmly yet modestly explains this claim: “I’m not a pure creative. I enjoy looking into the past and finding ways to apply it to the present. I frequently refer to books on fashion, music, and art; I’m more of a library guy.” Gauthier has a great enthusiasm for the product; he is not interested in what does not last. When asked how he succeeds in what he does, Gauthier responds: “Culture before money.” He has no desire to work with companies he feels are not authentic. Gauthier also questions the widespread belief that Steve McQueen can be a style icon as the actor was unpleasant, violent, and overly spoilt. Borsarello finds elegance in people who are kind, upright, and well-educated. In the end, he argues, “the more we search within ourselves for elegance, the harder it is for us to find it.” He himself has proven his elegance by fusing his two loves – music and clothing.

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Collaboration between Fursac brand Orchestre de Paris

photography Alexandre Guirkinger

Alexandre Gatter, oboe

The Fursac line created by Borsarello for his former orchestra colleagues includes wool and cotton tuxedos, white shirts, and silk belts. The shirts, which are worn without ties, are fastened with fabric-covered buttons in order to keep them from producing noise when in contact with string instruments. The sleeve lengths have been adjusted to the movements of the musicians, and the cuffs that might get in the way of some of the instruments have been left off. Borsarello explains that he sought to strike a balance between comfort, elegance, and tradition: “It is crucial to keep some of this legacy alive so that the audience may understand how much the performers cherish tradition and everything that classical music has to offer.”

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