It’s as if the 34-year-old materialized out of nowhere when, in June, the website of the French magazine Gala posted a video in which the tall, dashing, bearded stylist was shown (for a couple of seconds) helping a candidate for the French version of “The Bachelor” into a white jacket. Compared with the bachelor, Mr. Barthelat, who was wearing a white oxford shirt and gray V-neck sweater, was noticeably ill at ease in front of the camera. He has also dressed both jury members and candidates for the French version of “The Voice” in a mix of styles and price ranges.
But reality TV is not what paved his way to the Élysée Palace.
Mr. Barthelat recognized Mrs. Macron at the theater late last year, before she became a media darling. In a fan moment, he worked up the courage to introduce himself. The call came shortly thereafter.
Mrs. Macron’s style has always skewed less-is-more. Judging by her public appearances since they began working together this year, Mr. Barthelat’s influence has been both subtle and significant.
The first lady has been loyal to Louis Vuitton, wearing designs by its artistic director, Nicolas Ghesquière, a friend whose runway shows she attended before becoming a public figure. Other classic French names in her wardrobe include Balmain, Courrèges and Dior.
But recently she has also taken to wearing sharp jackets by lesser known designers and labels: Alexandre Vauthier (in red or black), Stéfanie Renoma (powder blue) and the tailoring specialist Pallas (beige, at the G20 meeting in July in Hamburg, Germany), the better to cast a halo around a larger group of French names.
And it’s not just about high fashion. Jewel-neck tops and other separates by midrange French brands like ba&sh, Sandro, Georges Rech and Paule Ka have appeared in the mix. On a state visit to Greece in September she was spotted wearing a Greek-coin “Profile” ring by Marc Auclert, whose designs incorporate antique artifacts and who is one of the few designers willing to discuss the effect of her favor.
“For an unknown designer like me, it’s wonderful to be in the spotlight,” Mr. Auclert said, “but at the same time it’s not about the brand. It’s brainier than that.
“Mrs. Macron epitomizes the 21st-century woman, particularly because of her intellect. That’s the new generation. That’s Mathieu. His service is all about excellence and expertise. It’s so much more interesting than being a name brand. He’s the key.”
Like everyone else, Mr. Auclert said he would love to meet Mr. Barthelat one day.
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