Sunday, February 7, 2021

Who is Armand Gamache and What Would He Wear?

Written by Colleen Tsoukalas

In her 16th novel, All The Devils Are Here, Canadian Order of Canada Writer, Louise Penny, moves Chief Inspector, and former head of the Surete du Quebec, Armand Gamache, from his home in the small village of Three Pines, to Paris. And isn't Paris, city of light, just the place we need right now? I can't think of Paris without thinking of Fashion, and I wondered if Gamache's style would work there, and how it might be found in men's clothing ads promoted today. We can always visualize the gardens, the cafes, the Eiffel Tower, symbols of Paris life. Similarly, when we meet a strong, evolving character like Gamache, especially over 16 novels, (17th coming August 2021) we might visualize him and look for him, closer to home.

Gamache is steady and strong. We know justice will be served. We know friendships will be deep and long lasting. We know family will be at the heart of each story. The fireplace will be warm and the food delicious. And to protect all of this, to ensure that all are safe, is Chief Inspector Gamache. Cambridge educated, he is bilingual and was raised with a knowledge of History and Art, via his billionaire Godfather and Industrialist, Stephen Horowitz, a lifelong mentor/father-figure/friend/life shaper, key especially when Gamache, at age 9, loses his parents. Stephen introduces and reinforces the importance of choices: the cruel or the kind, the unfairness or the wonderful, impatience or patience, choices and focus. "Your life will be decided by that choice." The decisions he makes are reflected in the lines on his face, and a deep scar but also laugh lines. He can see both sides: the dark and the light. He is reflective, decisive and confident, unafraid to say, " I don't know". and "I need help" and you know he will always learn and that because of his great leadership abilities, others will follow and help solve the problems.

Armand Gamache is a warrior, searching out the devils, despite not always knowing who or where they are. He is 6' with a sturdy build, hair, once dark, and now greying. In his late fifties, he wears reading glasses, and as you would expect, is up on the latest technology and has endless energy. Here is a hotel manager's impression of Gamache: "Middle-aged. Distinguished. In a good suit, tie. Shoes polished. Well groomed. He, too, looked like he belonged here." Other cues to his appearance: "Good cut to his clothes", "Good coat, classic cut, crisp white shirt, well tailored jacket beneath his overcoat". This is a man, who takes pride in his appearance, dresses the part, and even when travelling to Paris to await the birth of his fourth grandchild and to visit with family, including Stephen, would bring the clothes that would take him to the best hotels and restaurants as well as to board meetings with wealthy financiers, bankers, politicians and yes, devils. Oh and did I mention that he wears Sandalwood cologne and is acutely aware of different colognes and perfumes, especially at a crime scene?

I think, navy or black, wool, classic cut for suit and overcoat, with lots of room for extra pockets and a gun, handmade shirts, cotton handkerchiefs, a couple of handmade silk ties, maybe dark blue, leather shoes, a warm wool scarf, functional more than decorative. I asked my friend Myriam Laroche, who knows Fashion and is Montreal based, for some Canadian Menswear Makers. Here are two: Arthur Montreal Bespoke and Made to Measure Suits and Giovanni Clothes - Hand Tailored Fashion For men both, of which, have lots that would look great on Gamache. Some other Canadian options for ready made suits are IndochinoHarry Rosen, a Canadian company featuring a variety of International brands, and Simons. When a character is great, like this one, he comes to life. I would think that careful research, a few well timed fittings (probably between work adventures) and patience, patience, patience, would be strategies in the pursuit of a suit. 

To know more about Louise Penny and her 16th Gamache novel, ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE, 2020, have a look at her interview with Hillary Clinton here.

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