Code / September 2015

Lessons From my Father: Camps De Luca

Working with family can be a risky business, but the Paris-based De Lucas – patriarch Marc and his sons, Charles and Julien, a.k.a. the ‘three musketeers’ – have got it…

Marc De Luca has been at the head of famous Parisian tailor Camps De Luca for some twenty-five years, the third generation of his clan to helm this auspicious family business. Visit his palatial atelier on the Rue de la Paix and you'll sense the palpable atmosphere of collaborative creative energy about the place; one imagines it's the sartorial equivalent of stepping into a samurai's dojo or a master swordsmith's forge: a productive place of great discipline, ascendency and prestige.

In amongst this veritable warren of industrious tailors and coat makers, one can't help but get the impression that Marc and his equally talented sons, Charles and Julien De Luca work very much as one entity; sharing their workload, respecting each other's vision and continually collaborating together to retain the house's hard-won reputation as one of the best tailors on earth. What is it about their working together that seems to foster such mutual esteem and creativity in the De Lucas - when for so many the prospect of working with family is too much - and what do these men learn from one another in the process?

For patriarch Marc, to be given the chance to work with his sons is a precious opportunity, lending greater purpose to his working life:

Our family is Italian - that, I think, is a part of the reason why to me family is very important and very close. Working with my sons is a way to prolong my role as father, and to become their mentor as well as their boss. It's not always easy to be either a mentor or boss, but I enjoy exchanging ideas with them. The sharing of ideas has always been hugely important to our relationship; working together has to be a collaborative process. So often, as your children grow up, they build their own lives and careers and it can be easy to lose touch, so it's a joy to retain this relationship with my sons by working with them so closely.

Working with my family has always been a dream, and often the experiences I have with my sons take me back to Italy, where I had my first glimpse of the family business during my childhood. My father had to leave his country after the war - Italy was destroyed, and my father had always dreamed of Paris, so to emigrate seemed the natural solution to him.

In Paris at the time, competition between tailors was fierce, so he had to work extremely hard. He concentrated on his work and his generation was not used to passing on knowledge. I was obliged to study what he did very closely, and to try to learn with very little information on offer. I remember when I asked him to explain what he was doing, he would chalk something on rough bits of cloth very quickly, and that was it. I had to guess and manage with that.

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Contributor

Aleksandar Cvetkovic

Aleks is Deputy Editor at The Jackal and former staffer at The Rake. He’s long harboured a passion for fine menswear, well-timed dramatic pauses and stiff drinks.