PARIS — He looks good in suits and polo shirts, and is seen as a French politician tuned into creative pursuits, entrepreneurship and the luxury industry. Emmanuel Macron, the 38-year-old former economy minister and candidate for next year’s presidential elections with his political movement, En Marche! (‘On The Move!’), also has friends in high places.
He recently swung into the Big Apple for a conversation with Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz; a meeting with the French community at New York University; and a fundraising dinner and a cocktail organized by — among others — his vocal supporter, the former French minister Renaud Dutreil, who was previously chairman of the North American arm of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
“He’s very close to creative types and entrepreneurs,” Dutreil said. “En Marche! functions like a start-up; a creative studio, with a designer, communicators and ‘petites mains,’” he explained, using the French term employed in couture houses for seamstresses and tailors.
Macron’s party brings together a crew of 30- and 40-somethings including Benjamin Griveaux, former head of communications for French property developer Unibail-Rodamco, who quit his job to become the politician’s spokesman.
“His campaign is reminiscent of Barack Obama’s campaign. He’s an outsider who is accused of lacking experience,” said Dutreil.
“I know chief executive officers and entrepreneurs in the lifestyle, fashion and luxury sectors who support him—including financially, not publicly,” he added.
An advocate of economic reforms, Macron gave his resignation in August to his mentor, French president François Hollande.
Dutreil said that Macron wants to accompany young creative talent and support education, as well as ensure security in Paris. “Paris is the cradle for luxury companies. The state can act on security in Paris,” he explained.
Dutreil himself has no plans to return to politics. He intends to launch an investment fund in the first quarter of 2017, but is likely to stay heavily involved in the En Marche! campaign.
Last December, when he was still France’s economy minister, Macron spent more than an hour touring the sprawling Louis Vuitton exhibition “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez” alongside Bernard Arnault and the French executive’s wife, pianist Hélène Mercier.
Like former industry minister Arnaud Montebourg, another potential candidate for the presidential elections next May, Macron is keen to be seen as a supporter of the Made in France movement. Macron appeared on the cover of French newsweekly Paris Match this summer wearing two different polo shirts by preppy French brand Vicomte A. The brand’s shirts are priced at 65 euros, or $70 at current exchange. “It created a buzz for us, the two items sold out,” said Arthur de Soultrait, the label’s founder and creative director. “We’re a French brand. The symbol is important,” he added.
Vicomte A. sent Macron some polo shirts to thank him for wearing the label. They received in return a handwritten note from him reading: “Thank you. It means a lot to me. Let’s continue! Continue to go forward.”
According to de Soultrait, Macron and François Fillon, a dark-suited former minister who won the primary contest to lead the right-wing Republican Party in November, are “the two best candidates for entrepreneurs.”
Macron has foregone the expensive pinstripe suits he wore when he was a banker to better blend in with the Socialist government style and respect French sensitivities. Lagonda suits, priced between 800 euros and 1,200 euros, or $858 and $1,286, have been replaced by navy and dark gray suits fashioned by Paris tailor Jonas et Cie on Rue d’Aboukir. Made in Italy and France, such suits are priced at 340 euros, or $367, and 380 euros, or $407. “He’s been a loyal customer for the last two years,” said Jonas et Cie. owner Laurent Touboul. “He is an athletic, standard size that doesn’t require lots of alteration. He likes slim-fitted jackets. He has classic tastes. He knows what he wants.”
Macron pairs the suits with sky blue shirts, or sometimes a turtleneck sweater, thin ties and Richelieu shoes.
The politician’s wife Brigitte Macron, who is roughly 20 years his senior (she was his literature professor), favors luxury brands like Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton. She sat front row at the Vuitton show last March. In November, again on the cover of Paris Match as she took a stroll through the gardens of the Rodin Museum with her husband, she sported a Louis Vuitton monogrammed scarf in Klein blue, one of her favorite colors.
“This boy has great initiatives and great talent. He is a Kennedy, à la française,” French designer Jean-Claude Jitrois asserted. As for his wife, “She has the perfect body to be dressed in Jitrois, a size 36.”