The business plan (such as it is) is to “throw people together and see what happens,” Mr. Benbanaste said. And at any gathering, you might meet professionals from the film industry, publishing, art, fashion, management, finance or law.
Had Mr. Benbanaste lived in another era, he would have been the host of a literary salon. As it is, when he hit a professional crossroads a year ago, the self-described textile geek decided to funnel his experience at the Italian luxury men’s wear brands A. Testoni and Pal Zileri into what he called “real life dressing” for women and men, “at a reasonable price, in a place where people feel at home.”
The details didn’t come into focus until Fabrice Pinchart-Deny, his business partner, came up with the concept of an actual home.
A friend of Mr. Benbanaste’s from high school, Mr. Pinchart-Deny had been an equity trader in London and then briefly worked in real estate in Paris before joining the business full time. (It was his wife’s reaction to the clothes that convinced him of the project’s commercial potential.)
“As someone who loves Parisian style, I had to admit that I no longer recognized it in what I was seeing in shop windows, particularly abroad,” Mr. Benbanaste said. What really got to him was what he called the “Las Vegas aspect” of fashion, as seen on social media.
Yet Mr. Benbanaste enjoys the kind of lifestyle seemingly made for Instagram. His feed is filled with glamorous gatherings in Paris and exotic locales, be it a birthday weekend on Mykonos, a bash in London or a winter break in Tulum, Mexico, which may help explain his women’s wear aesthetic: “Jane Birkin steals Serge Gainsbourg’s wardrobe.”
That translates into a tightly edited collection of chic workhorse basics including crisp poplin shirts (starting at 140 euros, or $174) and silk blouses, jackets in stretch cotton micro-jacquard, wool and mohair tuxedos (suits range from €500 to €2,500), and coats in chocolate suede and shearling. There are pajama-style separates in Indian silk and cotton jumpsuits that offer a poolside alternative to the sarong. Delivery for tailored pieces, produced in Europe, takes three to four weeks.
Jewelry by friends such as Marie Gas of Gas Bijoux and the Franco-Mexican designer Sophie Simone Cortina, and flat sandals by Lorine Driot, the founder of the sandal brand Nupié, rounded out the shop’s mix last month. Their wares will continue to be showcased, and Mr. Benbanaste will add other brands as he sees fit.
On the men’s side, Christmas gift certificates for €150 bespoke shirts proved a hit, he said, as did the wrinkle-resistant travel jackets. They’ve also logged numerous orders for tuxedos for the Cannes Film Festival in May.
“My friends look at fashion in a classical way, but with a touch of whimsy,” Mr. Benbanaste said. They have a kind of uniform, and they’re looking for something beautiful and sober that will let them stand out. And they’re done with having to find the time, then standing in line to try clothes on or pay for them.”
Ad hoc as it sounds, he and Mr. Pinchart-Deny are already fielding inquiries: A pop-up space is to appear in September in Lisbon and trunk shows are being planned in London and New York. At home in France, Society Room has begun building out its concept: On Thursday, it will host an exhibition by the photographer Stéphane Bisseuil at the restaurant Alcazar on the Left Bank. And a fabric discovery/wine tasting event is planned for April at the headquarters of the Chateau de Ladoucette wine group, in the 16th Arrondissement.
So, how does a stranger join the party?
For events, prospective guests will be able to register on the Society Room’s website. As for the “home” shopping experience, after a moment’s thought, Mr. Benbanaste suggested: “They could always email and ask to drop by for tea.”
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